A surprising finding: weathering of rocks doesn't change with climate change

Constant weathering

Surprisingly stable behavior despite glacial and interglacial periods

The Beryllium cycle as it applies to weathering
The Beryllium cycle as it applies to weathering

From: GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

That weathering has to do with the weather is obvious in itself. All the more astonishing, therefore, are the research results of a group of scientists from the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam and Stanford University, USA, which show that variations in the weathering of rocks over the past 2 million years have been relatively uniform despite the distinct glacial and interglacial periods and the associated fluctuations in the Earth’s climate.

The researchers have observed a most stable behavior in marine sediments, fed year after year through the rivers of the world with silicate rocks, the product of weathering – variations in the weathering rates were actually less than ten percent.

The surface of the Earth is under constant change: chemical reactions between water and rocks dissolve minerals, form soil and wash removed component parts in the form of sediments into the oceans. Hereby, carbon dioxide is extracted from the atmosphere and deposited in the oceans rendering global temperatures favourable for human life.

Scientists actually expect high fluctuation in weathering rates during the cold and warm periods. If scientists measure the transport of weathered rocks in the rivers worldwide today, they find slower rates in the drier and colder regions. During the glacial period, temperatures and rainfall were lower and vegetation cover was reduced in many regions of the world i.e. weathering rates are reduced during the glacial periods. On the contrary, increased weathering reactions due to increased rainfall, highter temperatures, more vegetation and melting glacial ice are expected during the warm periods. “If you look at how these climate attributes control weathering rates today, you would expect that weathering and sedimentation rates also varied widely between glacial to interglacial times,” explains the Geochemist Friedhelm von Blanckenburg of the GFZ Potsdam. “But what we found was the complete absence of resolvable variations though the last two million years”.

Together with his GFZ colleague, Julien Bouchez, a research scientist now at the Global Institue of Physics in Paris, they applied a geochemical technique, which has been playing a central role in determing the rate of Earth surface processes at the GFZ during the past few years. One compares the concentration of two forms, or isotopes, of the element beryllium (Be). 9Be is found naturally in silicate rocks on Earth; 10Be is a radioactive cosmogenic isotope produced by the collision of cosmic rays with nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the atmosphere. “Because 10Be rains down onto the Earth’s continents and oceans at more or less a constant rate, it is like a clock that can be used to time processes,” von Blanckenburg said. “9Be, on the other hand, can be used to calculate how much dissolved rock has been washed into the oceans from rivers.”

By determining the ratio of 10Be to 9Be in marine sediment layers, it was possible to reconstruct the weathering flux for the last two million years with the surprising result that there was little change between glacial and interglacial periods.

And now, scientists Kate Maher and Daniel Ibarra from Stanford University (USA), who specialize in using computer models to understand how the flow of water controls weathering, have compiled data on river-to-ocean flow from an ensemble of climate models and have calculated the average discharge from rivers at different latitudes during glacial and interglacial times. The Stanford scientists reached the same results. Because the global water discharge is strongly controlled by the large tropical rivers, whose water volume hardly varied between the glacial and interglacial periods, the global rock weathering showed only moderate fluctuation.

In spite of this explanation questions still remain open: Why did the melting of glaciers and the release of large amounts of finely ground rock at the end of the glacial period have no influence on weathering and why can the effect of globally varying vegetation not be observed?


Friedhelm von Blanckenburg, Julien Bouchez, Daniel E. Ibarra, Kate Maher: „Stable runoff and weathering fluxes into the oceans over Quaternary climate cycles”, Nature Geoscience, Advance online Publication, 08.06.2015, DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2452

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June 8, 2015 2:25 pm

What is the evidence that the rate of Be10 formation is constant?

Michael 2
Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2015 3:47 pm

The relatively constant deposition in sediment suggests it. Imagine if the cosmic creation of Be10 fluctuated exactly opposite to deposition rates such that the appearance of constant deposition was maintained. That would be magical thinking. Not impossible, but unlikely. It suggests a connection between cosmic rays and glacial periods and we all know what happened the last time that was suggested. (Ridicule on a massive scale if you must know).

Gentle Tramp
Reply to  Michael 2
June 8, 2015 4:19 pm

Quote by Michael 2:
“Imagine if the cosmic creation of Be10 fluctuated exactly opposite to deposition rates such that the appearance of constant deposition was maintained. That would be magical thinking. Not impossible, but unlikely.”
That statement depends on the precision of the measurement. If the results are rather rough, then there is not so much magic required…
But I have not read the paper yet and therefore my suggestion is just speculative…

Reply to  Michael 2
June 9, 2015 6:12 am

Circular reasoning.
The relatively constant deposition rate is used as both evidence that the rate of cosmic ray flux is constant and that the rate of erosion is constant.

Reply to  Michael 2
June 9, 2015 6:13 am

If increased cosmic ray flux increased cloudiness which in turn increased rain, then it would also increase the rate of erosion.

Gentle Tramp
Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2015 3:51 pm

It is not constant of course, since Be-10 is a proxy for changing solar activity and consequently for Cosmic ray variations as well.
The assertion of this paper seems to be very strange indeed. I doubt somewhat the interpretation of these measurements.
Well, it’s only a wild guess, but maybe these findings could be better explained as a hint that the Svensmark hypothesis could be correct: If a weak solar magnetic field was the or one reason for the ice ages then more cosmic rays would have produced more Be-10 during times of less weathering and sedimentation, and vice versa in interglacial periods, we would have less Be-10 and more weathering. As a result, we would get a fairly constant proportion of Be-10/Be-9 as well.
This idea could be wrong, because I don’t know the Be-10 history during the last ice ages and interglacials at the moment, but maybe some other wuwt readers may have an answer to this suggestion.

Michael Wassil
Reply to  Gentle Tramp
June 8, 2015 10:02 pm

If scientists measure the transport of weathered rocks in the rivers worldwide today, they find slower rates in the drier and colder regions. During the glacial period, temperatures and rainfall were lower and vegetation cover was reduced in many regions of the world i.e. weathering rates are reduced during the glacial periods.

It may be a ‘wild guess’, but it seems quite reasonable to me. I wonder if in addition to the ratio of 10Be::9Be they also measured the absolute 10Be count. The article is paywalled, so I don’t know if they did or not.

Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2015 3:54 pm

Since Be10 decays into B10 (boron) instead of Be9, it likely isn’t relevant whether the Be10 formation rate is constant or not.

Paul Mackey
Reply to  MarkW
June 9, 2015 12:48 am

One would require a constant proportion of oxygen as a pre-requisite.

Paul Mackey
Reply to  Paul Mackey
June 9, 2015 12:57 am

What I mean is.
There is a collision cross section for the cosmic ray interaction with oxygen. This cross section ( i.e the probability of a collision ) will be effected by the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere. So is the oxygen concentration constant over this period? I have no idea. Probability of cosmic ray collision is usually quite low(?), so will this be even more sensitive to oxygen concentration , or the oppposite?

Reply to  Paul Mackey
June 9, 2015 9:30 am

I’ve seen somewhere that the level of CO2 is low during the last glacial period, so at least those oxygen atoms were reduced. I haven’t seen O2 levels.

Reply to  Paul Mackey
June 9, 2015 9:38 am

Bah, ignore me. WIth 21% oxygen in the atmosphere, the oxygen in CO2 is trivial. In a quick look, I’m not finding absolute measures of O2 variations — only 18O ratios.

ferd berple
June 8, 2015 2:28 pm

in absolute temperatures, the total fluctuation in temperature over the past 600 million years, is on the order of 5%. In contrast, observed climate change since the LIA is on the order of 0.3%, with maximum human induced global warming on the order of 0.2%.
Your household thermostat on your furnace or air-conditioning would be doing well to hold absolute temperatures within 1%. But of course, according to the IPCC, a global warming of 0.7% would be a disaster. Yet such a change within your regulated household temperature would never be noticed.

Michael 2
Reply to  ferd berple
June 8, 2015 3:50 pm

Just playing devil’s advocate here — the “feeling” of temperature change is the least part of it. I doubt anyone has suggested you would feel a 2 degree change. What you will notice, depending on where you live, is gradual migration upslope of the snow line and earlier reduction in snow-fet streams, a thing many western USA farmers will certainly notice.

Reply to  Michael 2
June 8, 2015 4:04 pm

A change of 2 degrees on average does not mean 2 degrees everywhere. The alarmists have said that the majority of the warming would be at night and towards the poles. In other words, the cold would not be so cold and that would raise the average. I doubt that would harm the farmers; and at the worst would make them change crops perhaps.
How many farms are there in the polar regions anyway? (any Russians here?)

Reply to  Michael 2
June 8, 2015 6:30 pm

I’m one that actually can feel it and being that sensitive sucks.
but I digress..

Reply to  Michael 2
June 9, 2015 11:35 am

Michael 2
Maybe. Maybe not. If the change at night is from -20 C to -18 C and the day stays the same – you get a 2 degree increase in the AVERAGE but no change in anything else. Check out some weather station data and you will find exactly that for many of them (At least in Canada). I have posted links in the past but it seems it is a non-issue.
Data from Environment Canada Public site.
I know, no data after 2006 but look at the “unprecedented” Arctic warming … NOT.
By the way, only irrigation farmers worry about melt water. The rest of us depend on rain, which where I live, the rainiest month is usually June. But not always. It’s weather after all. I still had snow along my trees until a month ago. Snow melt doesn’t do much for my pastures but it does keep the springs running into my rainbow trout pond.

Reply to  Michael 2
June 9, 2015 10:50 pm

Mark there is essentially no agriculture in the Arctic and of course zero in the Antarctic.

Gard R. Rise
Reply to  Michael 2
June 10, 2015 2:22 am

There are obviously great challenges to farming in the Arctic, but as stated in this article on Modern Farmer; “It can be done”:
A short review of the agricultural history of Greenland:

June 8, 2015 2:29 pm

Wild guess: the saturation point of CO2 in rain water is relatively constant over a wide range of temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations?

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 9, 2015 10:41 pm

no, the saturation concentration level is inversely related to temperature.

June 8, 2015 2:33 pm

breaking…..scientists discover sedimentation and erosion contribute to sea level rise…..24/7

June 8, 2015 2:36 pm

“Because 10Be rains down onto the Earth’s continents and oceans at more or less a constant rate,…..”
Nonsense. 10 Be nucleation (caused by the incoming GCR) is affected by three major factors:
a- solar activity
b- precipitation
c- earth’s magnetic field change (by far strongest)

Reply to  vukcevic
June 8, 2015 3:37 pm

10Be is produced by rather high energy cosmic ray protons. Earth’s magnetic field has essentially no effect on those. Solar activity mainly influences lower energy cosmic rays, so it may have a modest effect on 10Be production. As the 10Be that forms is a solid, it would be washed out of the atmosphere by precipitation. This could vary short-term, but not long term.
I presume the study measured the rate of 10Be deposition in marine sediments. That would depend on several factors, including the rate rocks are eroded, which releases 9Be, and the rate eroded material, 10Be and 9Be, is carried to the sea. If tropical rivers dominate, as stated, there was not a large, ice-age temperature variation in the tropics.

Reply to  Donb
June 9, 2015 12:55 am

NASA scientists would strongly disagree
Variations in Earth’s magnetic field and atmospheric circulation can affect the deposition of radioisotopes far more than actual solar activity. ”

Reply to  Donb
June 9, 2015 2:13 am

Perhaps you would like to issue a correction so the WUWT readers are not mislead by inaccurate information in your comment above.
Steinhilber et al:
“Because of its short atmospheric residence time, 10Be directly reflects cosmic ray intensity variations with almost no attenuation and a delay of 1–2 y. “
“First, we reconstructed the solar modulation potential, which is a measure of the solar modulation of the cosmic ray particles by removing the effect of the geomagnetic field based on paleomagnetic data reconstructed in Knudsen MF, et al. (2008) Variations in the geomagnetic dipole moment during the Holocene and the past 50 kyr.”

Reply to  Donb
June 9, 2015 6:19 am

The article you link too talks about how the sun affects climate.
Secondly, Donb specifically talked about high energy particles vs low energy particles.
It is you who owe Donb an apology.

Reply to  Donb
June 9, 2015 7:47 am

Mark W, Hi
I have to say, I disagree.
10Be isotope is due to galactic cosmic rays interaction with the atmosphere.
GCRs reaching the atmosphere are affected by solar activity (the weakest), precipitation (stronger) and the Earth’s magnetic field changes (the strongest).
Hence, the 10Be deposition rate in the ice cores are widely used to estimate past solar activity after the effect of the geomagnetic field is removed.
There is no doubt about any of the above, there are hundreds of peer reviewed papers on the subject.
It is incorrect to state that the nucleation of 10Be is unaffected by the Earth’s magnetic field.
Btw. All charged particles (GCRs are mainly protons) entering magnetosphere are affected by the geomagnetic field.

Reply to  Donb
June 9, 2015 10:32 am

I believe Vuk is correct. If I recall correctly it is these multiple variables that convolute cosmogenic isotope data from being a near perfect proxy for solar magnetic field variation.

Reply to  Donb
June 9, 2015 11:15 am

Results from a general circulation model indicate that variations in 10Be production rates caused by changes in the Earth’s magnetic field are dampened by ~20% in the 10Be deposition signal in polar regions, whereas the effects of solar variability are enhanced by ~20% [Field et al., 2006].
The exact magnitude of this polar enhancement of the solar 10Be signal is, however, uncertain [Heikkilä et al., 2008]. The latitudinal bias is a consequence of the incomplete atmospheric mixing of 10Be combined with a latitude-dependent shielding effect of the Earth’s magnetic field, which is maximum at low latitudes but negligible at the geomagnetic poles.
In our reconstruction of the solar modulation, we take this latitudinal bias in 10Be production into account and assume that the 20% correction can be applied to the entire Holocene.
Knudsen et al
(Note: Knudsen is the world expert in this field)

Reply to  vukcevic
June 8, 2015 4:00 pm

The study uses 10BE for dating sediments. For that purpose, I would think that the ratio of 10Be to it’s decay product of 10B would allow a reasonably precise calculation without an assumption of constancy of 10BE production.

June 8, 2015 2:37 pm

Partial answers to the last questions in the post. There are three kinds of rock: igneous (granite, basalt), sedimentary (sandstone, limestone), metamorphic (gneiss, marble). This study looked as slicaceous weathering in marine sediments, which is less than half ( at most, the first of the three rock type paired examples). So it is incomplete.
Second, there are three kinds of weathering: mechanical (abrasion, like glacial rock flour), chemical (like acid rain on limestone), biological (like bacteria and lichen ‘dissolving’ rock.) marine sediments will only reflect the first of yhese, since the second two show up instead in sea water chemical composition. Where does one think the salt in seawater came from? Chemical and biological weathering! Mostly just from igneous granites! Again, very incomplete.
Third, the abstract listed the marine cores analyzed. Less than ten papers. Heck, the Marcott mess used 80. (Granted, over 10000 years not 2.5 million) color me skeptical that this is representative.

Reply to  ristvan
June 8, 2015 9:14 pm

The Eath’s ocena have likely been saline since the comets delivered their payloads, 4.3- 4.2 Gya.

June 8, 2015 2:44 pm

increased weathering reactions due to increased rainfall, highter temperatures, more vegetation and melting glacial ice are expected during the warm periods and
chemical reactions between water and rocks dissolve minerals, form soil and wash removed component parts in the form of sediments into the oceans.
I’d bet the freeze/thaw cycle causes much faster weathering than ‘chemical reactions’. There is plenty of it in dry climates like Colorado, and it is mostly not transported by waterways.
Why did the melting of glaciers and the release of large amounts of finely ground rock at the end of the glacial period have no influence on weathering
Why would the release of large amounts of sand cause weathering except in the waterway it is carried?

Paul Marko
Reply to  skeohane
June 8, 2015 5:50 pm

“Why would the release of large amounts of sand cause weathering except in the waterway it is carried?”
What you’re referring to is erosion, not weathering. Weathering occurs when a rock stratum is removed from its place of origin where it is stable under the condition it formed, whether igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic, and it is uplifted and subjected to atmospheric conditions where it is unstable. The stratum then breaks down into new minerals and components that are stable in atmospheric conditions subjected then to removal by water, wind, collapse, etc.

Reply to  Paul Marko
June 9, 2015 7:10 am

I agree, I was quoting a nonsensical statement from the post. It makes me wonder if the authors have ever been outside in a natural setting.

June 8, 2015 2:51 pm

somebody comically said that dinosaurs might have been so big because gravity was different in the past as just a random thought, then somebody said jokingly that in the past the Earth must have been smaller and denser. So just the other day I thought well perhaps that might be true, I always thought it was a bit odd saying that all of the land mass was connected together on a section of the sphere and has since split apart.
Perhaps all that land mass was connected together on a smaller sphere which is getting bigger.
Does west Americas fit into east China and all those bits ?

Reply to  zemlik
June 8, 2015 3:01 pm

I did use to wonder why all the old stuff seemed to be underground but I I think that is just action of plants bringing stuff from below to above but now I am concerned that the Earth might be inflating.

Reply to  zemlik
June 8, 2015 3:27 pm

And maybe the moon is hollow and contains an alien civilization. An idea which it seems has been seriously entertained by many people.
Which directs us to the long-standing recommendation that whilst it is important to keep your mind open. It is also important that it is not so open that your brains fall out.

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
June 8, 2015 3:34 pm

so cruel =O)

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
June 8, 2015 3:54 pm

further, confidence of understanding of physical world is normally done by ignoring evidence.
Why do you dismiss thought that Earth is inflating ?
the Earth is really big and has produced quite a few inventions intellectually and biologically I can see why it might want to swell up a bit in pride.
but perhaps you think that you are separate to the Earth ?
which does and has sustained you, do you consider intellect belongs to human ?
perhaps intellect is there in Earth for expressions in forms, now our forms.

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
June 8, 2015 3:57 pm

I’m definitely stealing this!

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
June 9, 2015 6:21 am

I thought the moon was hollow and was actually a space ship?

Reply to  zemlik
June 8, 2015 4:48 pm

And where were the Oceans kept when the whole planet was covered by the continents?

Reply to  tty
June 8, 2015 5:55 pm

They were hiding in the deep oceans.

Reply to  tty
June 8, 2015 6:34 pm

covered by someones missing heat

Tim Groves
Reply to  zemlik
June 8, 2015 6:05 pm

Zemlik, if the Earth was smaller and denser in the past, the force of gravity at its surface would have been greater. If that had been the case during the age of the dinosaurs, the largest of them would have been smaller than the largest modern land-dwelling reptiles, mammals and birds. Also, with a smaller Earth, the seas would have been deeper on the average. The balance of evidence, which suggests larger dinosaurs and shallower seas, is not favorable to the expanding Earth hypothesis. However, the idea of an expanding Earth is interesting at least as a thought experiment.

Reply to  Tim Groves
June 8, 2015 8:01 pm

Now a shrinking Earth, on the other hand…

Mike Bryant
Reply to  zemlik
June 8, 2015 7:35 pm
David Chappell
Reply to  zemlik
June 9, 2015 7:36 am

It’s all Algore’s millions of degrees in the centre of the earth causing it to swell.

Reply to  zemlik
June 10, 2015 1:10 am

There are those who propose that the earth was smaller when it was younger..
It’s considered to be on the fringe of science and the current geological consensus is that plate tectonics explains things a lot better.
However the science is never settled…

Mike McMillan
June 8, 2015 3:45 pm

If the results were less than expected, might it be that the sensitivity of the 9Be/10Be test is also less than assumed?

Leonard Lane
Reply to  Mike McMillan
June 8, 2015 11:08 pm

That’s what I was thinking too. At least two interpretations. One is the weathering is constant, and two is that their beryllium isotope ratios in marine sediments really do not explain what is happening to the rocks exposed to weathering.

June 8, 2015 3:52 pm

I can see where this is going…..”We suggest that this stability in weathering explains the observation that the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by silicate weathering has been in approximate balance with CO2 degassing over the past 600,000 years.”….Money “shot”, ehm, I mean “quote”. Approximate balance with CO2 degassing? I can hear the CAGW fascist now… “because of anthropogenic excess of CO2 into the atmosphere, natural removal of CO2 from weathering processes will not remain in balance and we need to stop all fossil fuel burning immediately. Very convenient. So, when atmospheric CO2 was 15 to 20 times higher during the Cambrian and Ordovician, were weathering rates that much higher, even though land plants had not evolved yet to increase weathering rates? No. In fact, we observe a strong reduction of CO2 after land plants took over the continents during the Devonian.

Reply to  Rob
June 8, 2015 9:18 pm

Completely agree. Geochemical processes analyzed after the Cambrian explosion that do not take into account the very dramatic changes that biological carbon uptake caused are worthless. Even the great oxidation events of 2.4 Gya were biological in origin and drove massive Fe precipitation events in the oceans.

Reply to  Rob
June 9, 2015 8:01 am

Weathering is currently estimated at .2 GtC in the Carbon cycle. Not even lunch money.
Well, if weathering did turn out to be the only vestige of uniformitarianism, what of it? Doesn’t really surprise that it seems to make little difference that ice rather than liquid water does the eroding…

June 8, 2015 4:14 pm

In spite of this explanation questions still remain open: Why did the melting of glaciers and the release of large amounts of finely ground rock at the end of the glacial period have no influence on weathering and why can the effect of globally varying vegetation not be observed?
Perhaps because that is how supposed to be in a relatively perfectly uniformed climate change….where the interglacial periods supposed to be three times longer than the glacial periods, where in any 100K of years chosen 75% of the period will be interglacial and only 25% will be glacial…meaning that any 100k of years you chose will bear more like the pattern of an interglacial than a glacial and when compared to a 15 years glacial period will not show any significant difference or variation…….

Reply to  whiten
June 8, 2015 4:18 pm

correction above:
“a 15 years glacial period” should be considered as it was meant “a 15K years interglacial period”

Gary Pearse
June 8, 2015 4:22 pm

I fear the good doctors of Helmholz don’t know that there is more to weathering than water and warmth. Mass wasting (think talus piles on the slopes of mountains, glacial moraines – hey when it’s cold as hell, you have mile high glaciers crushing and grinding and bulldozing the rocks beneath) without chemical change. All the sediment in the sea doesn’t represent all the sediment there is. Deserts have pebble, cobble pavements and quadrillions of tons of sand that didn’t make it into the sea. I believe they may have discovered something but it isn’t constant weathering.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 8, 2015 6:02 pm

I believe they may have discovered something but it isn’t constant weathering.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny…” — Issac Asimov

June 8, 2015 4:36 pm

Weathering is not a single process. There is chemical weathering, that increases with higher temperatures and more CO2, and there is mechanical weathering that increases with colder temperatures (freeze/thaw cycles and glacial erosion), Both increase with precipitation.
Trying to explain weathering rates with a simple cold/warm model is absurd.

Dario from Turin
Reply to  tty
June 9, 2015 3:12 am

well said… when I was at university, in the late ’80s, an old professor told me the difference between “resistasia” (from the ancient greek, it means “weathering by means of PHYSICAL processes”, i.e. mechanical weathering) and “biostasia” (“weathering by means of BIOLOGICAL processes”).
Resistasia was intended to occur during the ice ages, i.e. COLD periods with poor vegetation.
Biostasia during integlacial, with warm climate and plenty of vegetations.
Here in NW Italy we have a 0,6 °C decrease in temperature each 100 m increase in altitude…. with a 2 àC increase in temperature, the treeline will go 300 m higher on the mountain sides… and this means a LOT of the lower (and middle) sides of the mountains will get covered by woods….

June 8, 2015 4:45 pm

“Why did the melting of glaciers and the release of large amounts of finely ground rock at the end of the glacial period have no influence on weathering”
Probably because there is no reason to think that more finely ground rock would be released at the end of a glacial period. An active, growing ice-cap will erode much more rocks than an inactive, melting “dead-ice” glacier.
And rivers will erode much more actively during glacial periods with low sea-levels than during interglacials, when they tend to meander and build terraces instead.

Reply to  tty
June 9, 2015 2:03 pm

But there is a sign at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota Florida that says the nice fine sand there came down the rivers at the end of the glacial period. If it says it on sign it must be true.

June 8, 2015 4:45 pm

Obviously there were no ice ages. The climate has been stable for millions of years until we starting burning fossil fuel.
Can I get a grant now?

Alan Robertson
Reply to  joel
June 8, 2015 6:06 pm

You could investigate talus boarding with your grant money.

June 8, 2015 4:47 pm

Hmm, this quote:

Scientists actually expect high fluctuation in……

I might expect, a variation in sorting and gradation of sediments, a differentiation of alluvial – riverine deposits compared with sediment’s extracted from glacial deposition. To expect a large variation in weathering amounts over a long time period [Pleistocene] – is a much bigger imponderable, to find out the weathering rates do not vary much [betwixt and during a glaciation advance], is fairly unsurprising – methinks.

John Gorter
June 8, 2015 5:52 pm

To misquote the BGs
‘Its only models
and models are all we have
to steal your cash away’

Reality Observer
June 8, 2015 5:54 pm

I *cannot* be the only one here who read this to the end.
Oxford English Dictionary: “Data – Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.”
Article: “…have compiled data on river-to-ocean flow from an ensemble of climate MODELS…” (my emphasis).
We have truly entered the age when someone’s fantasy (if politically correct, i.e., advantageous) is the INPUT to an analysis.

Reply to  Reality Observer
June 8, 2015 7:03 pm

We should call them computer games to expose them for what they are.
What I found interesting is this falsifies the establishment theory of the slow erosion of the surface of the planet by weather over millions of years. This is a titanic discovery that supports catastrophism.

Brett Keane
Reply to  Reality Observer
June 8, 2015 8:39 pm

All too true. And by the way, in a glaciation, there is a great expansion of periglacial vegetation-reduction and increased erosion. With massive wind-blown loess movements. Also continental shelves laid bare to the winds and rivers. But they are modellers, are they, not real scientists?

Reply to  Brett Keane
June 9, 2015 9:46 am

I do rather hope that their samples were not taken on the continental shelf, where the glacial sea level drop removed the ocean water for a while.

June 8, 2015 6:36 pm

and if they had found a variation you all would have just the opposite things to say.

Brett Keane
Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 8, 2015 8:42 pm

Poor old Mosh, data not to your liking at all these days.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 9, 2015 6:26 am

Growing bitter are we?

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 9, 2015 11:28 am

Mosher… what they have found is important …not what they did not found, and what supposed to be found.
They have found a uniformity in a long term time period at about a 10% variation, on a given parameter.
Surprising enough the very known uniform yearly cycles have a higher variation in the parameters of weathering (which ever you chose to pick at), which it will make climate change by default a more uniform cycle than the yearly cycles……..no where near to the orthodox estimation where a glacial period is a 100k years long while the other opposite extreme is considered as only 5K years long…the interglacial optimum.
hopefully you understand this….

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 9, 2015 2:19 pm

Mosher, mister consistent viewpoint, and mister all about data, is now a mind reader, but he isn’t just reading what is actually on the the minds of people in the present, he is reading the minds of people based on a hypothetical and fictional past. Quite a trick Mosh, but really it is nothing more just useless conjecture, and probably wrong at that.

June 8, 2015 7:13 pm

“Hereby, carbon dioxide is extracted from the atmosphere and deposited in the oceans rendering global temperatures favourable for human life.”
There’s the good ol’ “CO2 drives temperature” meme again.

Mike Bryant
June 8, 2015 7:27 pm

Expanding earth…without comment

William Astley
June 8, 2015 7:40 pm

The paper is garbage. Be10 is not constant. Variation of the number and intensity of the cosmic particles that strike the earth is what is caused the glacial/interglacial cycle and the cyclic abrupt climate change in the paleo climatic record. Cosmic particles the strike the earth’s atmosphere is the number cause of ions in the atmosphere. Ions increase the rate in which clouds form and changes the properties of clouds such as cloud life time and albedo.
The number one modulating factor of the intensity and number cosmic particles that strike the earth is the strength and inclination of the geomagnetic field.
The geomagnetic specialists have found that the geomagnetic field intensity is changing by a factor of up to 5 to 10 times and the local direction changes dramatically with a periodicity of changes every 10,000 years. As the other papers note, past glacial terminations and past abrupt climate change events called Heinrich events correlate with geomagnetic excursions.
What is missing in the search to solve the puzzle how to explain cyclic abrupt climate change, is what is causing the geomagnetic field to abruptly cyclically change.
The geomagnetic field intensity is currently dropping at 5%/decade (the abrupt change in the geomagnetic field start in about the mid 1990s, the geomagnetic field was previously dropping at 5%/century) which is ten times faster than it has dropped for the last 150 years and is ten times faster than a core based change can cause. Something external is currently forcing the geomagnetic field to change. What happened in the past is the same basic mechanism only orders of magnitude greater which explains the very, very short interval in which the change in the geomagnetic field occurs. There are no other physically possible explanations. There must be a massive change of electrical charge on the surface of the earth to cause the very, very large and very, very abrupt changes to the geomagnetic field. As noted in the last paper small and large abrupt climate changes correlate with abrupt changes to the geomagnetic field.
The sun is causing the abrupt changes to the geomagnetic field. The solar cycle is interrupted by the large planet’s movement of the sun which disturbs the solar tachocline (Solar tachocline is the name for the narrow region that separates the solar radiative zone from the solar convection zone) which interrupts the production of the magnetic flux tubes that at the tachocline which rise up to the surface of the sun to produce sunspots on the surface of the sun. The solar restart is occurs over a fairly short period of time, let say 5 to 10 years. The abrupt changes to the geomagnetic field due to immense charge movement during a solar restart (there are burn marks in multi places on the surface of the earth and there is evidence of restrike when an immense charge strikes and then restrikes the earth to create overlapping oval burn marks on the surface of the earth. The oval mark is created as the earth is turning during the strike. The axis of the burn marks all align in the same direction. There are thousands of burn marks during one particular event.)
The geomagnetic field excursions are not random events. Something is forcing the geomagnetic field. The sun when the solar cycle restarts is forcing the geomagnetic field and the earth’s orbital position when the solar cycle restarts modulates the solar restarts effect on the geomagnetic field. The key orbital positions are eccentricity of the earth’s orbit about the sun, the tilt of earth axis as compared to the earth orbital plane about the sun, and the season timing of perihelion (whether perihelion -closest approach of the earth to the sun- occurs in winter or summer for the Northern hemisphere).

3.2. Cosmogenic radionuclides
Cosmogenic radionuclides are produced by interaction of cosmic rays with Earth’s atmosphere. Production of cosmogenic radioisotopes is modulated by variations in cosmic ray flux, solar activity and shielding by the geomagnetic field.
Geomagnetic dipole moment variations are the most important modulator of production rate of cosmogenic radioisotopes, which varies inversely with field strength. Variations in production of cosmogenic radionuclides, including 14 C (half-life, T1/2 ¼ 5.73 kyr), 36 Cl ( T 1/2 ¼ 300 kyr), and 10 Be ( T 1/2 ¼ 1500 kyr), from ice cores and sediments provide an independent measure of field intensity variations on a range of timescales (e.g.Frank et al.,1997 ;Raisbeck et al., 2006). These variations can be presented in terms of predicted relative paleointensity by assuming that all of the cosmogenic radionuclide production stems from variations in the geomagnetic field and by transforming production rate into relative paleointensity.


Is the geodynamo process intrinsically unstable?
Recent palaeomagnetic studies suggest that excursions of the geomagnetic field, during which the intensity drops suddenly by a factor of 5 to 10 and the local direction changes dramatically, are more common than previously expected. The `normal’ state of the geomagnetic field, dominated by an axial dipole, seems to be interrupted every 30 to 100 kyr; it may not therefore be as stable as we thought.


Paleomagnetic excursions recorded in the Yanchi Playa in middle hexi corridor, NW China since the last interglacial
Paleomagnetic determinations on lithological profiles of two paralleled long drilling cores covering the past 130 kyr B.P., GT40 and GT60, from the Yanchi Playa in the arid Northwestern China, indicate that a series of pronounced paleomagnetic excursions have been documented. By correlating our results with published regional and worldwide reports, 4 excursion events out of 10 apparent reversal signals (labeled from GT-1 to GT-10) were identified as excursion events coeval with the Mono Lake Event (28.4 kyr–25.8 kyr), Laschamp Event (43.3 kyr–40.5 kyr), Gaotai Event (82.8 kyr–72.4 kyr) and the Blake Event (127.4 kyr–113.3 kyr), respectively. GT-9 correlates with the above-mentioned Gaotai Event, GT-7 and GT-6 correspond to two stages of the Laschamp Event and GT-5 to the Mono Lake Event. It is noteworthy that the so-called Gaotai Event has not been reported as a pronounced paleomagnetic excursion in the Northwestern China. Every magnetic excursion event corresponds to paleointensity minima, anteceding those established abrupt paleoclimatic change events, such as the Younger Drays and the Heinrich Events (H1–H6). Here, we tentatively propose that these geomagnetic excursions/reversals can be viewed as precursors to climate abruptness. During the transitional stages when the earth’s magnetic field shifted between a temporal normal and a negative period, the earth’s magnetic paleointensity fell correspondingly to a pair of minima. Although more precise chronology and more convincing rock magnetic parameter determinations are essentially required for further interpretation of their intricate coupling mechanism, these results may have revealed, to some extent, that the earth’s incessantly changing magnetic field exerts an strong influence on the onset of saw-tooth shaped abrupt climate oscillations through certain feedback chains in arid Central Asia or even North Hemispheric high latitude regions.


Orbital Influence on Earth’s Magnetic Field: 100,000-Year Periodicity in Inclination (William: and Intensity)
A continuous record of the inclination and intensity of Earth’s magnetic field, during the past 2.25 million years, was obtained from a marine sediment core of 42 meters in length. This record reveals the presence of 100,000-year periodicity in inclination and intensity, which suggests that the magnetic field is modulated by orbital eccentricity. The correlation between inclination and intensity shifted from antiphase to in-phase, corresponding to a magnetic polarity change from reversed to normal.


The effect of changes in the Earth’s moment of inertia during glaciation on geomagnetic polarity excursions and reversals: Implications for Quaternary chronology
Geomagnetic polarity reversals and excursions in the Quaternary correlate well with interglacial-to-glacial transitions and glacial maxima. It is suggested that this relationship results from interactions between the Earth’s mantle and core that accompany decreases in the Earth’s moment of inertia during ice accumulation, which weaken the geomagnetic field in order to try to counter the decrease in differential rotation between the mantle and inner core that is being forced. In the Late Pleistocene, geomagnetic excursions directly correlate with brief phases of rapid ice growth that accompany falls in global sea-level, notably during the Younger Dryas stage, Dansgaard– Oeschger interstadials 5 and 10 that precede the rapid melting events during Heinrich events H3 and H4, and during the transitions between oxygen isotope stages 5c-5b, and 5e-5d. It is proposed that similar relationships between instabilities in climate and the geomagnetic field also typefied the Middle Pleistocene.


Also, we wish to recall that evidence of a correlation between archeomagnetic jerks and cooling events (in a region extending from the eastern North Atlantic to the Middle East) now covers a period of 5 millenia and involves 10 events (see f.i. Figure 1 of Gallet and Genevey, 2007). The climatic record uses a combination of results from Bond et al (2001), history of Swiss glaciers (Holzhauser et al, 2005) and historical accounts reviewed by Le Roy Ladurie (2004). Recent high-resolution paleomagnetic records (e.g. Snowball and Sandgren, 2004; St-Onge et al., 2003) and global geomagnetic field modeling (Korte and Constable, 2006) support the idea that part of the centennial-scale fluctuations in 14C production may have been influenced by previously unmodeled rapid dipole field variations. In any case, the relationship between climate, the Sun and the geomagnetic field could be more complex than previously imagined.

Steve P
Reply to  William Astley
June 9, 2015 6:03 am


June 8, 2015 8:13 pm


Steve Oregon
June 8, 2015 8:24 pm

Rocks will be rocks?

D. Cohen
June 8, 2015 8:44 pm

Glaciers themselves can have running water underneath and inside them, and at their ocean edges they can produce ice bergs, which eventually melt depositing into the sea whatever the ice picked up while slowly grinding out to the glacier terminus (remember, glaciers “flow” downhill too, just very very slowly). Also, during a glacial episode, desert regions greatly expand, allowing wind to carry much more dust out over the oceans. It is not at all clear that “of course” there should be less stuff deposited in the ocean during glacial episodes.

June 8, 2015 9:00 pm

Weathering is a “magic” word in climate science.
One just has to write “weathering” in any paper and the faithful are mesmerized into believing CO2 causes everything. No evidence or data needs to be presented, just the idea of weathering.

June 8, 2015 9:12 pm

I would expect geochemical weathering rates to respond to the big Earth tectonic changes, such as the Andes uplift that occurred 15 Million years ago, or the Himalayan uplift that started 40 Mya. Those big uplifts are what would present new, unweathered rock to erosion and sedimentation layering. Their time scale is looking for a signal far, far down in the noise at 2 Mya to present.

Don Easterbrook
June 8, 2015 9:44 pm

Too many variables with unknown changes, 10Be is not constant, big variation in sedimentation rates between glacial and interglacial periods, and …………. = not a plausible conclusion.

June 8, 2015 9:55 pm

The surface of the Earth is under constant change: chemical reactions between water and rocks dissolve minerals, form soil and wash removed component parts in the form of sediments into the oceans. Hereby, carbon dioxide is extracted from the atmosphere and deposited in the oceans rendering global temperatures favourable for human life.
Wrong. It has gone too far. CO2 starvation caused by geological weathering is predicted to be a future cause of biosphere extinction:
The best CO2 level for life on Earth is somewhere in the range 1000-1500 ppm.

June 9, 2015 12:45 am

Would that not implicate that the atmospheric CO2 did NOT change during those periods?

William Astley
June 9, 2015 2:45 am

A surprising finding:
The analysis goes in circles when there are multiple fundamental errors as to what is the physical cause of what is observed.
The physical cause in this case (what is the cause of the glacial/interglacial cycle and what is the cause of the cyclic changes within both periods of climate) affects the proxies such Be10 and most certainly effects erosion rates.
There are cyclic massive changes in precipitation (increase in precipitation when the planet warms and decreases in precipitation when the planet cools) and there is a massive increase in wind speed and increase material ejected from the continental sized ice sheets that cover the planet for 100,000 years during the glacial phase and when the planet cools cyclically (smaller cycles) during both the glacial phase and interglacial phase.
The increase erosion caused by increased wind speed and grinding of rock by the massive ice sheets will partially offset the change in erosion due to precipitation changes.
As noted above Be10 is not constant as the geomagnetic field strength is not constant which invalidates the analysis which asserts that erosion rates do not change when the planet gets colder. The geomagnetic field strength and orientation (location of the geomagnetic north and south poles on the earth’s surface) is the principal factor that cause variation of the amount and intensity of the high speed cosmic particles that strike the earth which in turn affects the production of cosmogenic isotopes such as Be10.
As noted in the papers quoted above in the last 10 years the geomagnetic field specialists have found that there are immense cyclic changes to the geomagnetic field. The immense cyclic changes to the geomagnetic field in turn causes immense cyclic changes to the earth’s climate by changing the amount of high speed cosmic particles that strike the earth’s atmosphere. The high speed particles create ions in the earth’s atmosphere which changes the amount of clouds, the life time of clouds, and the albedo of clouds. The immense cyclic changes in cosmic particles that strike the earth’s atmosphere also cause immense cyclic changes in wind speed.
These cyclic immense changes in the earth’s climate explain why dust in the Green Ice cores (the dust is coming from Asia) varies by a factor of 100 with massive increases during cyclic Heinrich events. The Heinrich events occur during the glacial periods and which interglacial periods. This explains why interglacial periods end abruptly after a period of no more than 10,000 years. The periodicity of Heinrich events is 8000 to 10,000 years.

Timescales for dust variability in the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) ice core in the last 100,000 years
The calcium (representing dust) concentration record of the last 100,000 years from the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) ice core shows a huge dynamic range (factor>100). The relationship between dust concentrations and temperature (represented by the oxygen isotope ratio) is not a simple one, as has often been assumed. A rapid alternation (factor of 5–10) between low concentrations during the Dansgaard-Oeschger interstadial periods and high levels in colder periods is superimposed on a long-term trend encompassing a further factor of 5–10. Within climate periods, there is only a very weak relationship between Ca concentration and temperature. Previous authors [Biscaye et al., 1997] have suggested that the most likely source for the increased dust is eastern Asia. For the first time, we consider each possible cause of both rapid and slow increases from source to deposition. We suggest that, to account for the size and rapidity of the fast changes, significantly higher wind speed in the source area is required, although changes in atmospheric residence time could also play a role.

Reply to  William Astley
June 9, 2015 6:12 am

Anyone looking at the last 2 million years can clearly see from all the data that no Interglacial lasts much longer than 12,000 years which is approximately the length of our present Interglacial.
Why people are worried that it will be warmer and warmer baffles me. Since all the declines into Ice Ages are abrupt and steep, the warning signs for these events must be very obscure until the hour it begins.

M Courtney
June 9, 2015 4:04 am

I’ll see your variations in 10Be and raise you partial pressures in water.
If there is an abundance of 10Be (or 9Be) in the atmosphere then the absorption into the rivers may depend on the concentration already there.
Self-smoothing signal.

Reply to  M Courtney
June 9, 2015 10:51 am

Does partial pressure still apply if the molecule in question is not a gas?

M Courtney
Reply to  MarkW
June 15, 2015 3:33 am

Fair point. Technically, no it doesn’t.
But I would have thought that there was more chance for Be to escape the liquid at a higher
water / atmosphere concentration than at lower a lower water / atmosphere concentration.
And as it takes time to deposit, that makes the principle still apply. The signal would be smoothed.
So long as Be can escape solution again.

Byron Deveson
June 12, 2015 7:14 pm

It has been pointed out to me that most weathering of silicates is by hydrolysis, not carbonation. The rate of hydrolysis will increase with temperature and increase with decreasing pH. But I think that biological processes in the near surface environment would have the biggest impact on silicate weathering. How that could explain the stability seen in the beryllium 10 data I don’t know.

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