'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The world’s deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according to the new research.

Scientists followed the journey of water through the Tarim Basin from the rivers at the edge of the valley to the desert aquifers under the basin. They found that as water moved through irrigated fields, the water gathered dissolved carbon and moved it deep underground. Credit: Yan Li

Scientists followed the journey of water through the Tarim Basin from the rivers at the edge of the valley to the desert aquifers under the basin. They found that as water moved through irrigated fields, the water gathered dissolved carbon and moved it deep underground.
Credit: Yan Li

Humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Scientists thought the remaining carbon was taken up by plants on land, but measurements show plants don’t absorb all of the leftover carbon. Scientists have been searching for a place on land where the additional carbon is being stored–the so-called “missing carbon sink.”

The new study suggests some of this carbon may be disappearing underneath the world’s deserts – a process exacerbated by irrigation. Scientists examining the flow of water through a Chinese desert found that carbon from the atmosphere is being absorbed by crops, released into the soil and transported underground in groundwater–a process that picked up when farming entered the region 2,000 years ago.

Underground aquifers store the dissolved carbon deep below the desert where it can’t escape back to the atmosphere, according to the new study.

The new study estimates that because of agriculture roughly 14 times more carbon than previously thought could be entering these underground desert aquifers every year. These underground pools that taken together cover an area the size of North America may account for at least a portion of the “missing carbon sink” for which scientists have been searching.

“The carbon is stored in these geological structures covered by thick layers of sand, and it may never return to the atmosphere,” said Yan Li, a desert biogeochemist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Urumqi, Xinjiang, and lead author of the study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “It is basically a one-way trip.”

Knowing the locations of carbon sinks could improve models used to predict future climate change and enhance calculations of the Earth’s carbon budget, or the amount of fossil fuels humans can burn without causing major changes in the Earth’s temperature, according to the study’s authors.

Although there are most likely many missing carbon sinks around the world, desert aquifers could be important ones, said Michael Allen, a soil ecologist from the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of California-Riverside who was not an author on the new study.

If farmers and water managers understand the role heavily-irrigated inland deserts play in storing the world’s carbon, they may be able to alter how much carbon enters these underground reserves, he said.

“This means [managers] can take practical steps that could play a role in addressing carbon budgets,” said Allen.

Examining desert water

To find out where deserts tucked away the extra carbon, Li and his colleagues analyzed water samples from the Tarim Basin, a Venezuela-sized valley in China’s Xinjiang region. Water draining from rivers in the surrounding mountains support farms that edge the desert in the center of the basin.

The researchers measured the amount of carbon in each water sample and calculated the age of the carbon to figure out how long the water had been in the ground.

The study shows the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the water doubles as it filters through irrigated fields. The scientists suggest carbon dioxide in the air is taken up by the desert crops. Some of this carbon is released into the soil through the plant’s roots. At the same time, microbes also add carbon dioxide to the soil when they break down sugars in the dirt. In a dry desert, this gas would work its way out of the soil into the air. But on arid farms, the carbon dioxide emitted by the roots and microbes is picked up by irrigation water, according to the new study.

In these dry regions, where water is scarce, farmers over-irrigate their land to protect their crops from salts that are left behind when water used for farming evaporates. Over-irrigating washes these salts, along with carbon dioxide that is dissolved in the water, deeper into the earth, according to the new study.

Although this process of carbon burial occurs naturally, the scientists estimate that the amount of carbon disappearing under the Tarim Desert each year is almost 12 times higher because of agriculture. They found that the amount of carbon entering the desert aquifer in the Tarim Desert jumped around the time the Silk Road, which opened the region to farming, begin to flourish.

After the carbon-rich water flows down into the aquifer near the farms and rivers, it moves sideways toward the middle of the desert, a process that takes roughly 10,000 years.

Any carbon dissolved in the water stays underground as it makes its way through the aquifer to the center of the desert, where it remains for thousands of years, according to the new study.

Estimating carbon storage

Based on the various rates that carbon entered the desert throughout history, the study’s authors estimate 20 billion metric tons (22 billion U.S. tons) of carbon is stored underneath the Tarim Basin desert, dissolved in an aquifer that contains roughly 10 times the amount of water held in the North American Great Lakes.

The study’s authors approximate the world’s desert aquifers contain roughly 1 trillion metric tons (1 trillion U.S. tons) of carbon–about a quarter more than the amount stored in living plants on land.

Li said more information about water movement patterns and carbon measurements from other desert basins are needed to improve the estimate of carbon stored underneath deserts around the globe.

Allen said the new study is “an early foray” into this research area. “It is as much a call for further research as a definitive final answer,” he said.

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264 thoughts on “'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

  1. “a process exacerbated by irrigation”, e.g. they think this capture of carbon dioxide which, they say later is a “one-way trip” and permanent, is a problem since they use the word “exacerbated”.
    And they keep saying “carbon” instead of “carbon dioxide”. Inflammatory prose.

    • rms,
      Quite normal they use “carbon” i.s.o. CO2, as it is only CO2 in the atmosphere. In seawater it is 1% CO2, 90% bicarbonates and 9% carbonates. In plants it is cellulose, starch, sugars, lipids,… In all cases the amount of carbon exchanged is used, as that is the only possible way to make a mass balance…

      • No, Ferdinand, it is painstakingly clear that they are talking about carbon dioxide, and there is nothing “normal” about them using the word “carbon.” Their use of a “carbon” term is scientific illiteracy (actually, vulgar propaganda), and you are well aware of that.

      • Read the press release again. Here, let me help you see the bait-and-switch. The study shows the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the water doubles as it filters through irrigated fields. The scientists suggest carbon dioxide in the air is taken up by the desert crops. Some of this carbon is released into the soil through the plant’s roots. At the same time, microbes also add carbon dioxide to the soil when they break down sugars in the dirt. In a dry desert, this gas would work its way out of the soil into the air. But on arid farms, the carbon dioxide emitted by the roots and microbes is picked up by irrigation water, according to the new study.

      • Alexander, everybody involved in mass balances will use “carbon” and not CO2 as that is the only possible way to follow how the carbon mass is flowing from CO2 in the atmosphere into sugars etc. in plants, back to CO2 outside the roots (as eaten by bacteria) and reformed to bicarbonates in the alkaline irrigation waters.
        There is no bad intention here at all, only the best way to make any calculation possible, as no atom can be destroyed or created from nothing, while carbon can be incorporated in a host of other molecules than CO2…

      • “Carbon” is just lazy terminology for carbon dioxide. In the ’90s people would buy a “satellite”, a term which was used instead of “satellite dish antenna.” Later people used “cell” instead of “cellular mobile phone.” Both “satellite” and “cell” thus used reversed the underlying technical definitions, but no matter. It is the way of our people.

      • Just to point out that ‘dissolved inorganic carbon’ (DIC), in units of mgC/L, is a legitimate way of expressing the sum of dissolved carbon dioxide, carbonate, bicarbonate in water treatment/distribution circles, although other units can be used (for example, as CaCO3 or HCO3. Whether the authors of this paper have deliberately chosen to refer to ‘carbon’ for nefarious reasons I’ve no idea, but depending on context it is not necessarily ‘scientific illiteracy’ to do so.

      • I think they are trying to refer to “CO2 as carbon” but are sloppy in saying so. They are not talking about carbohydrates being dissolved in water. They also use the term “carbon budget” when they mean mass balance. Budget is a financial term, or should we believe that someone sets the “carbon budget?” Climate science gets off into really sloppy terms.

    • The Tarim Basin is one one of China’s most important oil and gas producing areas and its natural gas is contaminated with a lot of CO2, which presumably has nothing to do with this phenomenon?

    • rms, IMO your observation is 100% correct.
      As a “spin doctor” myself (i.e Ad, lyrics and marketing writer) I am very careful and often to go to Roget’s to mull over the the words when it comes to nouns, adverbs and adjectives to select one that has the most emotional effect for the maximum impact.
      The use of ‘carbon’ (black icky bad stuff to the average reader) vs. carbon dioxide which is a colourless, tasteless benign gas 100% vital to life on earth.
      The use of the word carbon is NOT lazy science (CO2 is lazier) or describing the carbon cycle but is patently chosen to have the most negative impact.
      The targeted enemy of the warmists IS carbon dioxide.
      Could you imaging the Roy Orbison song being titled “Attractive Woman” ? A song penned when lyrics mattered.
      Now that would never have made it onto Billboard.

      • +1
        cnxtim, rms and Alexander; you’ve nailed it. All suggestions of ‘sloppiness’ are simplistic imitations of Phill Jones and Manniacal’s absurd claims that communications between scientists are normally full of damning insults, physically impossible relations, harmful suggestions and overly simple language as just replacement for scientific rigor and language.
        Sloppy Jones, abusive Manniacal and their buds may have been communicating on the same deep wicked dungeon level about inner circle well known topics, which never seemed to change week to week, month to month; an extremely unlikely situation.
        However, the above study purportedly announces to the world ‘exciting new’ knowledge about the water cycle. Information intended to clarify water cycle chemistry.
        – The study uses nearly opaque ‘chemical’ language.
        – The alleged study is more assumption and confirmation bias than science.
        – Alleged science about the water cycle minimize what is actually studied with minimal details.
        – Assumptions are paramount with sweeping claims about deep aquifers and time related chemistry.
        Bogus science comes to mind. Of course, peer reviewers were scientifically awestruck when approving the paper… NOT!
        Or it could be one of those ‘computer model’ generated science papers, never meant to be real science…

  2. It would be interesting to see if hydrogen bombs (SMALL ONES!!) could be used if detonated in the ocean for the purpose of releasing trapped carbon. There is a deuterium connection here that may free up some of the oxygen currently trapped in co2. There could be practical uses for the hydrogen bomb as wellwhen used in conjunction to blasting, building tunnels, etc. This may be a path to investigate.

  3. “it is as much a call for further research as it is a definitive final answer.” Say what???????????.
    If it is a call for further research then it is not a definitive final answer. If is is a definitive final answer then no further research is needed.
    Sometimes you just feel sorry for these people.
    Eugene WR Gallun

  4. Is there ever any end to speculation?? Can “any speculation” be truthfully equated with “legitimate, scientific theory”??

  5. First all the man made heat hides, and now man made CO2 has gone into hiding. It’s AGW hide and seek!

    • And they didn’t realize that they can also argue that the lack of sea level rise acceleration may be because all that water trapped under the deserts that “may never return to the atmosphere (surface)”
      It seems like it is forbiden for environmental scientists to find good news in any of their studies. You may think it is a good thing that so much fresh water is stored in aquifers below the deserts. It shouldn’t be too difficult to pump it and make a good use of it. You can ask Israel about that. Or you may also think that this is a “natural” way of removing the excess of CO2 from the atmosphere (if you think there is a need to do that, anyway), but not, when it comes to CO2, everything is bad, everything is a disadvantage.

    • The whole AGW scam can be summed up and explained as a game of Where’s Waldo, where searchers are paid to find Waldo based on glimpses… “Hey, I think I just saw Waldo in a desert in China! Give me money so I can go to China and look more closely!” “Oh…Wait! I SAW Waldo in the Arctic!!!…Give me more money…” etc, etc.
      This applies to the missing heat in the troposphere, the missing heat in the ocean, and on and on.
      Reminds me of an old George Carlin routine where he’s talking about God…”He’s All Knowing, All Powerful, All Seeing….But!…he CAN’T HANDLE MONEY. He ALWAYS NEEDS MONEY.”

  6. Not clear from the article is in what form the carbon is stored in the aquifer: CO2, bicarbonates (is the desert rich in carbonates?), organics? Makes a lot of difference in possible return of it as CO2 from the depths…

    • “The study shows the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the water doubles as it filters through irrigated fields.”
      So apparently, it is in the form of CO2 that is dissolved in irrigation water. But what form does carbon dioxide take after it is dissolved in fresh water? If it remains under the desert for thousands of years, is CO2 released back into the atmosphere again as soon as the water makes its way out?

      • Normally rainwater and thus surface water is already saturated with CO2 from the atmosphere and is slightly acidic. “CO2” doubling seems only possible to me if the waters contain a lot of carbonates, which forms bicarbonates with dissolved CO2. That is possible as in many deserts there is a lot of carbonate present along the river beds from the uplift of ancient seafloors…

      • So by the OA proponent’s weird science, that water must be almost like battery acid.
        /sarc

      • As CO2 is absorbed in water it will form carbonic acid, which will then disassociate, allowing for more CO2 to be absorbed. It may be saturated if its warm enough, like on the surface of a warm desert, but as that water enters the ground it cools to 15-18 C and more CO2 can be absorbed. It will also dissolve salts and allow for more CO2 to be absorbed. There is virtually an endless supply of CO2 in organic-rich soils for the water to absorb and will continue to do so as long as there are salts to react with. These are important processes in kart terrains.
        They haven’t really discovered anything here that I can tell. They have simply thought to add this dissolved carbon into the equation. The rest of the “missing” carbon is probably in soils themselves.

    • *karst terrains…
      I should also add that it will only keep absorbing CO2 and dissolving salts if the water is recharged, which apparently it is in this case.

  7. the second para begins:
    “Humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.”
    surely that gives the wrong impression that humans are responsible for a whole lot of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. plenty of the people commenting here know the exact figure but, from memory, aren’t humans only adding about 4% of the carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.
    whatever the figure is, it should have been mentioned in the sentence as in: “Humans add x% of carbon dioxide”.
    it is a cheap CAGW trick to leave the figure out.

    • @ Pat, “Humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. “.
      You mentioned that humans only add 4 % C02 to the atmosphere, that means that the figure the warmists are so worried about is even less if 30% enters the ocean, now even more ends up in aquifers and trees use some of the rest to produce foods, trees, and 02, am I right?

      • Yeah, 40% of 4% of a gas that constitutes 0.04% of the atmosphere. And THAT amount my friends is what is causing the oceans to because less basic and inhospitable to corals and dissolves the shells of mollusks and crustaceans. The Briny Deep is very selective of the CO2 she chooses to absorb, she be. Yeah, right.

      • Mike, it is about 3% of the overall carbon cycle:
        – ~9 GtC/year human contribution
        – ~60 GtC/season in from the biosphere, ~61 GtC/season out into vegetation (land + sea)
        – ~50 GtC/season in from the ocean surface, ~50.5 GtC/season out into the ocean surface
        – ~40 GtC/year flowing permanently between equatorial upwelling and ~43 GtC/year down near the poles into the deep oceans.
        The human contribution (taxes!) and first two cycles are quite certain, as based on oxygen use/release of the biosphere and the accompanying changes in δ13C at one side and ocean chemistry and ocean surface total carbon measurements at the other side.
        The last cycle is the most uncertain part, thus may be overestimated and more distributed into other reservoirs like rivers and aquifers…
        The increase in the atmosphere indeed is some 2 ppmv/year or 0.5% of the absolute level…

      • Tom J,
        It is currently more sink than source, because we are far beyond the equilibrium between oceans and atmosphere for the current seawater temperature. Normally the equilibrium would be around 295 ppmv. The 400 ppmv gives extra pressure which pushes more CO2 into the oceans (and plants). If we should stop all emissions, the CO2 levels would slowly fall back to 295 ppmv…

      • no…you assume ocean temps don’t vary (change) with time. Short-wave solar input changes have impacts on ocean temps, which affects sink- source kinetics.
        The biggest fraud perpetrated by the pseudoscience climate change crowd is the selling the belief that prior to man’s burning of fossil fuel, the climate (global temps, CO2 levels level, ocean pH, sulfur aerosols) was in this beautiful state of balance. And that now, our CO2 emissions are sending the climate over the cusp of some hidden tipping point which always (and conveniently) is just over the current time horizon.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:
        ‘The human contribution (taxes!) and first two cycles are quite certain,…’
        A few years back I’d agree, but I’m not quite so certain anymore that the numbers are really that accurate. The Chinese government is pretty corrupt and corrupt governments, and the officials they employ, are well known to fudge the numbers. And, the foregoing would certainly apply to Venezuela where I suspect lots of things are kept off the books and disappear while well outputs may be overinflated to keep the powers that be happy. Don’t be surprised if a certain amount of product disappears in less corrupt governments that have high tax. The Black Market in Europe is huge. And, this leads to OPEC where, if the numbers are measured at the source, they simply can’t be trusted: all the countries have been known to cheat on their quotas.
        In the end, the unaccounted for human CO2 emissions versus the expected emissions have a huge disparity that still can’t be explained.

      • joelobryan,
        The overall change in equilibrium over the past 800,000 years is 8 ppmv/K. According to Henry’s law the equilibrium between ocean waters and atmosphere is 4-17 ppmv/K in the literature.
        Taking some 0.8 K temperature increase since the depth of the LIA, that makes some 6 ppmv CO2 extra. Far from explaining the 110 ppmv total increase (with over 200 ppmv human emissions)…

      • Tom J,
        I agree that the real human emissions are probably far more underestimated than overestimated… That only makes that the (“missing”) natural sinks are larger than calculated as the net result, the increase in the atmosphere is accurately known within +/- 0.2 ppmv.

    • Man does not add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by deforesting.
      Deforesting reduces the available carbon sink resulting in less CO2 being sequestered. Whilst Man may be rapidly reducing natural carbon sinks by deforestation, the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is acting as a fertiliser and greening the planet at a rate faster than Man deforests. Hence, overall carbon sinks are increasing.
      The expression ‘adding CO2 by deforestation’ is another lazy expression just like claiming that reducing the rate of cooling is warming. These are different processes, and scientifically the correct process and understanding precisely what is going on is important, but not in climate science when loose terminology, confusion and inaccuracy reigns.

    • pat:
      You say

      the second para begins:

      “Humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.”

      surely that gives the wrong impression that humans are responsible for a whole lot of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. plenty of the people commenting here know the exact figure but, from memory, aren’t humans only adding about 4% of the carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.

      Yes, “that gives the wrong impression that humans are responsible for a whole lot of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”.
      Humans input carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. And carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere in an amount approximately equivalent to about 40 percent of the human input to the atmosphere and is entering the oceans in an amount approximately equivalent to about 30 percent of the human input to the atmosphere.
      Nobody knows what the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be in the absence of of human input: the increase may be more or less in absence of the human input. As Chapter 2 from Working Group 3 in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (2001) that said

      no systematic analysis has published on the relationship between mitigation and baseline scenarios”

      and – to date – there has still not been such a “systematic analysis” because there is not sufficient knowledge of the carbon cycle to enable such analysis.
      But there are people who like to pretend – to others and to themselves – that they do know the effect of the human input of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere on the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: they don’t.
      Richard

      • Richard,
        Of course, if you eat every day 4200 kJ food and burn some 4100 kJ by biking and living, you wonder why at the end of the year you have a weight gain of a few kg…
        If you still think that without human input there would be an increase in CO2 and not a decrease, then you have not the slightest insight of how a physical process works. As long as the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere is above the (weighted) average CO2 pressure in the oceans, CO2 is net going into the oceans. The same for the biosphere, which is thanks to the extra CO2 more sink than source, the earth is greening.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:
        I refer you to the post by Gregory Lawn in this thread where he demolishes your ludicrous ‘mass balance argument’. Of course, he has an advantage because – being an accountant – he can count.
        Richard

      • As usual Richard you take your wishes for reality.
        Gregory did make a mistake, as he didn’t know that the sinks respond to the extra CO2 in the atmosphere above steady state. He assumed that the sinks remained the same in strength, but if there is no increase in the atmosphere, there is no extra sink at all…
        See my responses there…

  8. Makes you wonder how much “carbon” (Is that even a thing in a lake?) is trapped in the Rio Hanza and other underground rivers. The Mojave river in California has a stunning amount of water in it, and much of that is underground. I thought the science was settled. ‘Sup wit dat?

  9. Agriculture began near the start of the current interglacial. Maybe today’s near-starvation levels of carbon dioxide were caused by irrigation.
    In aggie school around 1973, I took a class in irrigation. Sprinklers are the most wasteful method–and that is the method you see, mile after mile, when travelling thru the American West. Since carbon dioxide is the basis of photosynthesis, these farmers are reducing the carrying capacity of the Earth for life.
    Yields can be increased while fixing this, but it ain’t gonna happen while 2/3 of the public believe serious warming is actually happening, carbon DIoxide equals carbon MONoxide, etc. Our lives depend on teaching people what photosynthesis is.

  10. “The scientists suggest carbon dioxide in the air is taken up by the desert crops. Some of this carbon is released into the soil through the plant’s roots.”
    I have never heard that before. Does anyone know why plant roots release carbon? Is there a leak? In desert conditions, plants would want to conserve water and not have to open stomata more than necessary to allow carbon dioxide in. So why do plants release carbon through their roots? Wouldn’t they have to take in more CO2 to compensate for the loss?

    • Louis perhaps you didnt know but grasses for instance when at maximum growth in midsummer with plenty of water put over 50% of their photosynthetic sugars back in to the ground through their roots to feed symbiotic organisms that help the plant feed – all plants do so at greater or lesser amounts

  11. Seems like these are geologically new aquifers, just now getting charged. At first look, it does seem that all of them taken together, could show up in the planetary carbon mass balance. I keep in mind that the Chinese do not buy into CAGW at all. (But maybe you would not say that for the people who wrote the press release) So it seems like a straightforward ecology/earth science research project. (Complete with a veiled plea for more funding at the end, some things truly are universal) I do not think I have seen work on a new aquifer getting charged before.

    • I can dissolve salts of many kinds. I can grow salt crystals of many kinds. I can do the same trick with sugar, too.
      If you can dissolve carbon, you can grow carbon crystals. A most profitable hobby, I am sure.

      • Phillip and TonyL, you should both revisit your chemistry.
        Of course carbon itself is not soluble in water, but most people with any understanding of chemistry would realise that the meaning is carbon as part of a soluble compound. The term carbon is not a literal one, it is used for the purposes of accounting. Hence the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle and so on.
        Have a glass of wine, or a beer, or even a cup of coffee, preferably with sugar in it, and contemplate whether there is carbon dissolved in there, in the form of organic compounds.

      • @ morrie2:
        A bit if an inside line, actually.
        If you could dissolve elemental carbon in something, you could, in principle, grow diamonds. But carbon will not dissolve in anything to the required concentration. (molten metals being a possible exception)
        So the idle dream of benchtop diamond production dies a horrible death.

  12. I do not understand the hostility ,albeit slight, apparent in some responses to this article .
    It is available on free open access at the moment from:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064222/full
    The abstract summary is clear and actually encouraging .
    They point out that some 100gcarbon /m^2/year is being lost from the atmosphere in arid regions , not as biomass or soil carbon , but in saline and alkaline aquifers and that the input rate is increased as a result of human agricultural activity , up to 20gC/m^2/year . Given that there are 24×10^6km^2 area of such activities that means the sequestration of nearly 500×10^12 g C per year.
    If you are a AGW believer it will be reassuring to know that there is an anthropogenic negative feedback to the CO2 generated by humans , whilst if you are not you have some ammunition to counter the argument that human activity is destroying the planet.
    Win – win for everyone , but especially for the reputation of mainstream science because the article is available to anyone , is clearly written and obviously well researched and it has a nice , human, touch at the end where the authors acknowledge the help of israeli colleagues “to polish the language”.

    • I was wondering how they were getting all that CO2 dissolved.
      “saline and alkaline” explains a lot. Also, water moving through the ground becomes a prime suspect for mineral deposit formation.

    • Thanks Mike for the link, that makes it clear: the alkaline (carbonates I assume) soils take a lot of CO2 away as bicarbonates when irrigated… As long as the aquifers remain alkaline there is little possibility for CO2 to return to the atmosphere…

    • “If you are a[n] AGW believer, it will be reassuring to know that there is an anthropogenic negative feedback to the CO2 generated by humans…”
      I have to say that I have yet to meet the AGW believer who is reassured by negative feedbacks. Quite the opposite, in fact: negative feedbacks = less catastrophe for the planet and mankind = less funding and less socio-economic-political success for them, and this is precisely how nearly all of them behave.
      If catastrophic warming were TRULY their fear (it is not, have no doubt), the zealous opposition to nuclear, fracking, mitigation and other common sense measures would be limited to a hardy band of fringe extremists. Instead, it is par for the CAGW course.
      And all of this, by the way, is without even mentioning that they would also be interested in a truly open, honest, results-oriented scientific process. The polar opposite is of course the reality.
      With all due respect, and to paraphrase a well known line: I don’t think these AGW believers mean what you think they mean.

    • “If you are a[n] AGW believer, it will be reassuring to know that there is an anthropogenic negative feedback to the CO2 generated by humans…”
      I have to say that I have yet to meet the AGW believer who is reassured by negative feedbacks. Quite the opposite, in fact: negative feedbacks = less catastrophe for the planet and mankind = less funding and less socio-economic-political success for them, and this is precisely how nearly all of them behave.
      If catastrophic warming were TRULY their fear (it is not, have no doubt), the zealous opposition to nuclear, fracking, mitigation and other common sense measures would be limited to a hardy band of fringe extremists. Instead, it is par for the CAGW course.
      And all of this, by the way, is without even mentioning that they would be interested in a truly open, honest, results-oriented scientific process. The polar opposite is of course the reality.
      With all due respect, Mike, and to paraphrase a well known line: I don’t think these AGW believers mean what you think they mean.
      Brad Crawford

    • You are right. The abstract and the paper by Yan Li is well written and the research underneath is highly valuable. It turns out that the problem lies on the article posted here. I don’t know who wrote it, the American Geophysical Union maybe?, but sure it is a poor journalistic piece of work. It does not reflect at all Yan Li and cols’ research.
      Yan Li and cols explain in their paper that they are talking about saline/alkaline deserts, and more specifically the Tarim desert, and not all deserts on Earth as the article posted here suggests. The presence of alcaline salts on the soil explains why the aquifers contain more dissolved CO2 than previously expected, something that the article fails to mention. Since CO2 is an acidic substance, it can react with water and form carbonic acid which in turn react with the alkaline material of the desert soil, displacing the equilibrium towards the dissolution of more CO2 in water.
      Li’s paper also mentions that the aquifers in Tarim desert cannot be used for irrigation because the water is too saline for plants to handle. Other thing that the article fails to mention.
      I can go on but I suggest you read the paper, the article and compare for yourself.
      I am appalled by the partisan and biased view this article makes from Li’s research.

    • You do recall that when CO2 dissolves into the oceans it is called acidification. It is the same thing when CO2 dissolves into fresh water except we denier pigs call it sparking spring water and sell it for an indecent profit. The truth as they see it is underground lakes are acidifying and my SUV is to blame. Somewhere in the world a group of greenies are putting their story together. They just need a victim – perhaps a rare underground microbe that is at risk, or oases are dying off and our children will never experience a desert oasis.

  13. Oh, God, another assault on human activity as an insult to Nature with the word CARBON attached to it. Come on, get it that Carbon is an essential element in all living things, and the earth is recovering from a CO2 deficiency that almost destroyed plant life altogether. Doubling CO2 in the atmosphere doubles plant growth.

    • Actually, the baseline seems to be about 200-250ppm.
      Below that not much grows except C4 plants.
      Its the amount above 200-250ppm that allows plant growth.

  14. Plants exude various organics through the roots into the soil. Some of these like carbohydrates feed soil organisms such as fungi which may in turn channel minerals to the roots. Malate exuded from roots immobilises soluble aluminium, reducing its toxic effect. Some roots are shed directly into the soil where they decompose.

  15. This is a very hostile response to real science. They measured the real world.
    It’s not opinion in the form of computer models; it’s observations.
    And the discovery of a new carbon sink is interesting.
    Why so negative?

    • I understand your point M Courtney, it is at least real-world investigation. It is the tone of all these studies that create hostility. The (evil) Carbon has been traced and its storage has been “exacerbated” by (evil) man with his agriculture.

      • The tone is in the head of the reader I think as I get no such feeling when reading it at all. Its very interesting – but to me as an agriculture trained individual not the least bit surprising. Plants do not grow at all easily without carbon sources in the soil to help all the organisms in a healthy balanced soil proliferate. Plants themselves put carbs into the soil to add to the process and fed mitochondria and other beneficial organisms. Many carbon compounds are very soluble especially when exuded from living things and so finding carbon in underground water should be expected, not surprising. Perhaps the progressive increase in recycling this water is adding to the carbon available to the soil and also increasing the ‘greening’ of the planet. Perhaps that is the direction they will look to next.

  16. Just a thought. What is that pond doing there in the first place? The dunes are obviously wind sculpted. As soon an wind blown sand hits the water, it stops, and should fill in the pond in no time. Yet the size of the trees show that the feature is persistent. Seasonal flooding?

  17. Pond is there because there is a slight depression in the ground level, below the level of the water table. Water will accumulate, trees will grow around edges where roots can get down far enough to reach the water. Standard oasis.

  18. Similar report in today’s “The Australian”, page 5, “Scientists ‘too pessimistic’ in carbon predictions.”
    This time it is about the Arctic – it starts “Climate scientists have consistently underestimated the capacity of a vast Arctic region to absorb carbon emissions. ” It goes on to say that for 9 leading climate models it was found the region’s emissions were overestimated and the carbon sink was underestimated. Worse, the models did not agree with each other (which looks to me like they are realising at least one, and possible eight, were wrong!). The sink was strengthened by “increased carbon uptake from plant growth outweighing increases in vegetation. Dr Rawlins said this reflected dual factors, both triggered by atmospheric warming.” “Over recent decades, warming has led to a lengthening of the vegetation growing period, which has enhanced sequestration through higher rates of photosynthesis,” he told “The Australian.”
    “Researchers blamed the disparity in the models on a lack of data. Northern Eurasia was ‘critically under-sampled’, attracting less field study than other parts of the Arctic.”
    So global warming is good for vegetation in the Arctic. Who would have thought it? (resisted temptation to write “Who’dathunkit?”).
    Original report in “Biogeosciences”. Obviously editor not scared the Mr Mann.

  19. So. These clowns, and every other living being, realizes they are a “carbon” sink? No? Well. Ignorance can be removed through education….stupid is forever.

  20. “Massive aquifers underneath deserts”
    It seems to say that they have also found the missing waters that are not making the oceans rise. It also implies that it takes so much water to store CO2 that it would be the ultimate “study” that solves both the AGW problems and the H2O problems.
    So, Californians, go to the streets and shout for joy! The problems have been found and the negative feedbacks can be added (or subtracted) to the models. We need NO solution from government!!!

  21. So we should be thankful for (not fearful of) man-made CO2 being added to the atmosphere, without it the growing greening of the planet to feed the increasing population would be reducing atmospheric CO2, with dire consequences for crop growth (certainly) and planetary warmth (supposedly).

  22. The framing of the article implies that this previously unnoticed part of the carbon cycle is new.
    The CO2 obsession hurts every area of discourse and study.
    This process has been going on as long as there has been deserts.
    Wait until people realize what the relatively tiny fresh water systems are doing withCO2, and how much is being sequestered in them.

  23. Temperatures were ramping up to the Roman Warm apex as the Silk Road developed beginning 2200 years ago. At least we should be spared any “silicate weathering” style foolishness regarding any climatic effect of the development of this sink.
    Of course, weathering is producing all those salts the farmers are washing down deep to prevent hard pan formation.
    If you happen to be concerned about CO2, farm the desert. Gro mo cotton.

  24. For the past thirty years the global carbon balance has been one enormous wag.
    “These questions have been settled by science.” Surgeon General
    IPCC AR5 TS.6 Key Uncertainties. IPCC doesn’t think the science is settled. There is a huge amount of known and unknown unknowns.
    According to IPCC AR5 industrialized mankind’s share of the increase in atmospheric CO2 between 1750 and 2011 is somewhere between 4% and 196%, i.e. IPCC hasn’t got a clue. IPCC “adjusted” the assumptions, estimates and wags until they got the desired mean.
    At 2 W/m^2 CO2’s contribution to the global heat balance is insignificant compared to the heat handling power of the oceans and clouds. CO2’s nothing but a bee fart in a hurricane.
    The hiatus/pause/lull/stasis/slowdown (IPPC acknowledges as fact) makes it pretty clear that IPCC’s GCM’s are not credible.
    The APS workshop of Jan 2014 concluded the science is not settled. (Yes, I read it all.)
    Getting through the 1/2014 APS workshop minutes is a 570 page tough slog. During this workshop some of the top climate change experts candidly spoke about IPCC AR5. Basically they expressed some rather serious doubts about the quality of the models, observational data, the hiatus/pause/lull/stasis, the breadth and depth of uncertainties, and the waning scientific credibility of the entire political and social CAGW hysteria. Both IPCC AR5 & the APS minutes are easy to find and download.

    • Nicholas,
      The 4% is the one-way additional part of humans in the (mainly seasonal) carbon cycle within a year.
      The 196% is the total human contribution in the past 165 years compared to the total increase in the atmosphere. There is very little doubt that humans are responsible for the bulk of the CO2 increase in the atmosphere.
      That means that some 96% of human emissions (as mass, not the original molecules) did disappear into different reservoirs: vegetation, oceans, rivers, rock weathering, etc… Where exactly all these sinks are is only roughly known and is a matter of much research.
      Where you are right is about the effect of the increase…

      • Bart,
        The overall result is fully understood: natural fluxes are more sink than source and there is not the slightest indication that natural fluxes did increase over time which could overwhelm human emissions…
        Most (sub-)fluxes are only roughly known and surprises like this one can be expected…

      • Awful pseudo-mass balance argument again. If you do not understand why it is an awful argument, you really have no business even being involved in the discussion.

      • Bart,
        If you don’t have any indication that the total natural throughput substantially increased over time (around a fourfold in the past 55 years), you have no leg to stand on with all your theoretical knowledge.
        Either the natural carbon cycle increased about a fourfold, as human emissions and the net sink rate did, or the natural cycle didn’t increase at all. That is the only way that either a natural cause or the human cause can be responsible for the increase.
        Sinks respond to human or natural CO2 in the same way, thus a fourfold increase of both human emissions and a similar response of the net sink rate is only possible from natural causes if the natural fluxes also increased a fourfold. Not a threefold or fivefold…
        And as usual, the mass balance must be obeyed at any moment of the day, human emissions don’t disappear in space.

      • Wrong. The indication is right here. The anthropogenically induced sink activity is artificial sink activity. Take that away, and the mass balance is positive in favor of nature driving the rise.

      • Bart:
        The anthropogenically induced sink activity is artificial sink activity. Take that away, and the mass balance is positive in favor of nature driving the rise.
        Wait a minute…
        Currently we have:
        increase in the atmosphere = human emissions + natural emissions – natural sinks – human induced sinks
        where
        4.5 GtC/year = 9 GtC/year + X – Y – Z
        Best case:
        X = Y and Z = -4.5 GtC/year and humans fully responsible for the sink rate.
        If humans stop all emissions, two possibilities:
        – with a very fast tau:
        Z drops to zero and as X=Y, the increase in the atmosphere drops to zero too.
        – with a slow tau:
        Z remains the same the first year and the CO2 level drops with 4.5 GtC/year, slowly reducing towards the steady state for the actual temperature.
        “Light” case:
        X – Y = -2.25 GtC/year and Z = -2.25 GtC/year and humans half responsible for the sink rate.
        If humans stop all emissions, two possibilities:
        – with a very fast tau:
        Z drops to zero and X – Y remains at – 2.25 GtC/year, as human emissions have no influence on that.
        – with a slow tau:
        Z remains the same the first year and X – Y remains the same. Where that ends, God knows…
        Worst case:
        X – Y = – 4.5 GtC/year and Z = 0
        etc…
        I don’t see any possibility that after stopping all human emissions, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere still increase. In the best case they remain the same, in all other cases they drop…

      • Bart,
        The anthropogenically induced sink activity is artificial sink activity. Take that away, and the mass balance is positive in favor of nature driving the rise.
        Can you show how that is possible? I can’t, but you are much better in math than I ever was in the far past…
        As far as I remember, the sink rate is proportional to the difference with the (dynamic) equilibrium for a more or less linear first order process, which the carbon cycle seems to be…

      • “Z drops to zero and as X=Y, the increase in the atmosphere drops to zero too.”
        The evidence indicates that X is greater than Y, X – Y is approximately 4.5 Gt/year and Z is approximately 9 Gt/year.
        Within reasonable tolerances, it could be that X-Y is 4.1 Gt/year and Z is 8.6 Gt/year, but this is only marginally different. Nature is still responsible for the lion’s share of the increase.
        If human inputs were to cease, Z would fall to zero, and X-Y would continue to track the temperature relationship.

      • Bart:
        The evidence indicates that X is greater than Y, X – Y is approximately 4.5 Gt/year and Z is approximately 9 Gt/year.
        There is one essential problem in your reasoning: the sinks don’t respond to the momentary input of X and humans, they respond to the total increase in the atmosphere above steady state, which was build up over the previous years…
        Except if the steady state is extremely responsive to temperature, but that violates Henry’s law which gives not more than ~8 ppmv/K change for any temperature change, no matter if that is static or dynamic…

      • “… they respond to the total increase in the atmosphere above steady state…”
        No. There is no “steady state”. They respond to the total amount, period. There is nothing in what I have written which violates that.
        Joel D. Jackson @ July 31, 2015 at 1:02 pm
        “So, temperature is a function of CO2.”
        No. You have written T as a function of dCO2/dt, the rate of change of CO2, which is an absurd proposition. That would mean that we could pump the atmosphere as full of CO2 as we liked (if we had that kind of power over CO2 levels, which we don’t), and once we started pumping, the temperature would revert to it previous state regardless of the resultant amount.
        The arrow of causality is clearly in the direction of temperature driving CO2.

      • Bart:
        No. There is no “steady state”. They respond to the total amount, period. There is nothing in what I have written which violates that.
        Yes and Henry’s law doesn’t exist and ice core CO2 levels / temperature proxies don’t show a steady state for a fixed temperature and the net sink rate is not in ratio to the extra CO2 in the atmosphere above steady state for the current temperature…
        Because all what refutes your theory must be wrong…

      • You’ve offered no refutation, Ferdinand. You’ve offered nothing but a circular argument, one in which you assume nature is in steady state, and claim this as “evidence” that it is in steady state.

      • This is your problem, Ferdinand. You make assumptions which constrain your solution space at the outset, and then seem to think it is compelling that your constraints lead you to the constrained solution. It is very childlike reasoning.
        There is no guarantee whatsoever that nature is in a steady state, beyond your feeling that because the ice core measurements appear to indicate a steady state prior to recent history, that steady state must continue. It isn’t even a question of whether the ice cores are reliable or not. Even making the assumption that they are in no way establishes that the condition continued into the modern era.
        The dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0) relationship establishes that nature is not in a steady state condition in that era. It establishes that nature is responsible for the overwhelming majority of the observed rise, and that human inputs have little impact.

      • Bart,
        Let’s go back to the assumption of a huge natural influence, using your own figures:
        Within reasonable tolerances, it could be that X-Y is 4.1 Gt/year and Z is 8.6 Gt/year, but this is only marginally different.
        The sink rate in this case is Z / human emissions = 8.6 / 9 = 95.6% for a sink quantity of 8.6 GtC/year and a net gain of 0.4 GtC/year.
        Calculating that back to the natural emissions/sinks:
        net natural gain X – Y = 4.1
        where Y = 0.956 * X
        or X = 4.1 / 0.144 = 92.25 GtC/year
        Not too far from the estimates for the natural cycle.
        The same calculation for the early period (~1959) where human emissions were much lower, about 2 GtC/year and the net sink rate was ~1 GtC/year.
        For that period:
        Z = 0.956 * 2 = 1.91 with a net gain of 0.09 GtC/year
        then X – Y = 0.91
        or X = 20.5 GtC/year
        That is a 4.5-fold increase in natural cycle 1959-2012 to maintain the same ratio between net (observed) sinks and calculated increase in human emissions.
        Seems that there is a problem here, as there is no sign of such an increase in natural carbon cycle…
        The only alternative is that there was no change in the natural carbon cycle (as throughput) and all extra sink capacity is from the increase in the atmosphere which is (near) fully from human emissions…

      • I bolt an arrow to the sky,
        It falls to Earth I know not when
        But I can tell you, yes, I’ll bet;
        Its falling hasn’t happened yet.
        ======================

      • Bart:
        You make assumptions which constrain your solution space at the outset
        The “assumption” that there is a steady state between oceans and atmosphere for the CO2 levels was established by Henry in 1803 and since then confirmed by millions of direct seawater measurements in modern times. Indeed also confirmed over many millennia in ice cores, for the triangle oceans – biosphere – atmosphere.
        It is confirmed by the linear increase of the net sink rate with the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere above the “assumed” steady state in the past 55 years.
        For more than halve the period 1959-2012 the formula dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0) reverses the variability of temperature and CO2 rate of change, it violates Henry’s law and completely ignores the feedback from the increased pressure in the atmosphere on the CO2 in- and outfluxes.
        It is firmly established that the variability in CO2 rate of change is caused by the influence of the temperature variability on (tropical) vegetation.
        It is firmly established that the trend in CO2 rate of change is NOT caused by vegetation, as that is a net sink for CO2 over periods longer than 2-3 years.
        Thus variability and trend of the rate of change of CO2 are not from the same process and while your formula shows a good correlation between temperature variability and CO2 variability, the trend fit is completely spurious.

      • “That is a 4.5-fold increase in natural cycle 1959-2012 to maintain the same ratio between net (observed) sinks and calculated increase in human emissions.”
        OR a 4.5-fold reduction in sink activity. Or, some mix of the two. It is a balance. On a balance scale, if one side is tilting up more than the other, you can either make that side heavier, or you can make the other side lighter, to establish balance. Same deal here.
        You are imposing conditions of stationarity which have not been established.
        “The “assumption” that there is a steady state between oceans and atmosphere for the CO2 levels was established by Henry in 1803…”
        I have explained numerous times why you are misapplying Henry’s Law. I do not know why you cannot understand. If the oceanic sinks are modulated by temperature to reduce their activity, then CO2 will accumulate in the surface waters. Then, Henry’s law gives a continuous increase in atmospheric CO2, dCO2/dt = k*(T – To), and this is what we observe.
        There is no way around it. The dynamic equation describing what is going on here is dCO2/dt = k*(T – To). It is right in front of your eyes. Start dealing with the reality and stop making excuses for not believing your eyes.

      • ““That is a 4.5-fold increase in natural cycle…”
        And, that is only for the specific case of “X-Y is 4.1 Gt/year and Z is 8.6 Gt/year”, which is in no way assured.

      • Bart:
        OR a 4.5-fold reduction in sink activity. Or, some mix of the two.
        Sorry Bart, can’t be true: the sinks respond in the same way for the natural as for the human CO2. Human CO2 emissions did increase a 4.5-fold, the net sink rate did the same (and so did the increase in the atmosphere).
        The sink factor remained about the same over the past 55 years, if it reduced over time, the residual in the atmosphere would go up in the ratio human emissions / lower sink rate and the natural emissions / sinks must have followed the same ratio.
        I have explained numerous times why you are misapplying Henry’s Law. I do not know why you cannot understand.
        Bart, the misunderstanding is completely at your side: Henry’s law applies everywhere at any part of the oceans, as good at the upwelling places as at the sink places.
        The local pCO2 at the upwelling places is influenced by the upwelling concentration and temperature. If the concentration didn’t change, the local temperature will have an influence of 4-17 μatm/K. That increases the local ΔpCO2 with the atmosphere with less than 3% at the upwelling zones. As the influx is directly proportional to the local ΔpCO2, the CO2 influx increases with less than 3%. The reverse happens at the sink side, thus reducing the outflux. Both increase the CO2 level in the atmosphere. When the extra CO2 pressure in the atmosphere reaches 4-17 ppmv, the original pressure differences are restored and thus the original in- and outfluxes…
        Then, Henry’s law gives a continuous increase in atmospheric CO2
        Henry’s law establishes the ratio between CO2 in solution and CO2 in the gas phase at equilibrium for a certain temperature. If there is no equilibrium, the in- or outfluxes are directly proportional to the (partial) pressure difference between the CO2 in gas phase and solution.
        Thus for a fixed temperature (or step change), Henry’s law gives a continuous influx of CO2 at the upwelling zones and a continuous outflux at the sink zones in ratio to the local ΔpCO2 between seawater and atmosphere. If either the pCO2 of seawater or of the atmosphere changes, the influx (or outflux) will change.
        There is no way that the influx or outflux remains the same with an increasing CO2 level in the atmosphere. That is where you go wrong, no matter that your lying eyes tell a different story…
        CO2 doesn’t pile up at the upwelling zones, neither does it in the atmosphere, as long as the sink capacity can cope with an extra supply. Temperature does hardly influence that, human emissions do.
        Higher concentrations in the upwelling can have more effect than temperature, but there is no indication for such an increase and even a 10% increase would result in not more than 30 ppmv increase in the atmosphere per Henry’s law.
        And, that is only for the specific case of “X-Y is 4.1 Gt/year and Z is 8.6 Gt/year”
        No, it is for all possible cases a 4.5 fold increase, as that is the increase in human contribution. Only the sink factor changes for other ratio’s between human and natural contributions. In all cases the natural emissions must follow the human emissions with a factor 4.5 or alternatively no change at all…

      • “Sorry Bart, can’t be true: the sinks respond in the same way for the natural as for the human CO2.”
        No, Ferdinand. They respond the same way at a particular point in time. There is no requirement that they responded the same way, with the same proportionality factor, in the distant past as they do today.
        “Both increase the CO2 level in the atmosphere. When the extra CO2 pressure in the atmosphere reaches 4-17 ppmv, the original pressure differences are restored and thus the original in- and outfluxes…”
        Wrong. If you have a continuous flux upwelling, but temperature prevents it from downwelling in equal measure, then it accumulates in the surface oceans. Henry’s Law then dictates that it will accumulate in the atmosphere as well.
        “Thus for a fixed temperature (or step change), Henry’s law gives a continuous influx of CO2 at the upwelling zones and a continuous outflux at the sink zones in ratio to the local ΔpCO2 between seawater and atmosphere.”
        No. The upwelling in the ocean is essentially independent of temperature. The outgassing to the atmosphere is temperature dependent, but temperature cannot hold back the upwelling waters. They have the concentration that they have.
        Downwelling, on the other hand, is very sensitive to temperature. Any persistent net imbalance between the upwelling and downwelling will cause a persistent change in the content of the surface waters.
        The atmosphere is just coming along for the ride. And, when the content of the surface waters steadily increases, the atmospheric concentration will steadily increase, too.
        “No, it is for all possible cases a 4.5 fold increase…”
        No. Try your formula again with X-Y = 4.499 and Z = 8.999.

      • Bart:
        No, Ferdinand. They respond the same way at a particular point in time. There is no requirement that they responded the same way, with the same proportionality factor, in the distant past as they do today.
        If one part of the response in the past is the same as the response today for the human input, there is no way it would be different for the natural input. The response to both the increase in the atmosphere and the human input in 1959 was the same as in 2012: a 4.5 fold increase…
        Wrong. If you have a continuous flux upwelling, but temperature prevents it from downwelling in equal measure, then it accumulates in the surface oceans. Henry’s Law then dictates that it will accumulate in the atmosphere as well.
        With a constant upwelling and concentration, there is a constant influx. CO2 doesn’t pile up in the ocean surface at the upwelling surface, only the concentration changes in the upwelling ocean water together with the release of CO2 to the atmosphere, but that is independent of the sink rate at the other side of the globe. Only if the pressure in the atmosphere changes, the influx will change.
        If the temperature at the upwelling increases, then the influx will increase, because the pCO2 in the oceans increases and in first instance the CO2 level in the atmosphere didn’t.
        If the temperature at the sinks increases, then the outflux will decrease, because the pCO2 in the oceans increases and in first instance the CO2 level in the atmosphere didn’t.
        Both increase the CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
        What you constantly ignore is that the increase in the atmosphere suppresses the influx, as the difference in pCO2 between oceans and atmosphere decreases and what isn’t released simply remains in the upwelling waters (if not eaten away by algae’s).
        The same increase of CO2 in the atmosphere increases the outflux as the pCO2 difference between atmosphere and oceans increases at the sink places.
        After some time, that gives a new steady state where influxes and outfluxes are again equal (or at the same disequilibrium as before the temperature increase).
        No. The upwelling in the ocean is essentially independent of temperature. The outgassing to the atmosphere is temperature dependent, but temperature cannot hold back the upwelling waters. They have the concentration that they have.
        That is where you are completely mistaken: the upwelling indeed is independent of temperature, the outgassing is temperature dependent and CO2 pressure in the atmosphere dependent, thus the remaining concentration in the upwelling waters depends of temperature and pCO2 in the atmosphere. If the pCO2 in the atmosphere increases, the influx of CO2 is suppressed and the remaining concentration in the surface water increases. That is not “piling up”, as the fresh upwelling does the same towards the same concentration and these waters flow towards the poles to sink there again, taking away CO2 when they cool down…
        Downwelling, on the other hand, is very sensitive to temperature. Any persistent net imbalance between the upwelling and downwelling will cause a persistent change in the content of the surface waters.
        Upwelling and downwelling are equally sensitive to temperature, that is what Henry’s law says. Both upwelling and downwelling will not give a persistent imbalance for a fixed temperature (or upwelling concentration) step, as both also depend of the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.
        The atmospheric CO2 concentration is an important active part of the equations…
        Next message for the calculation…

      • “What you constantly ignore is that the increase in the atmosphere suppresses the influx…”
        No, it does not. It equilibrates the atmospheric partial pressure proportional to the pCO2 of the oceans. But, that does not prevent upwelling CO2 laden waters from diffusing into the surface oceans.
        “The same increase of CO2 in the atmosphere increases the outflux as the pCO2 difference between atmosphere and oceans increases at the sink places.”
        It is the atmospheric flea on the ocean elephant’s back. For all practical purposes, you can ignore the influence of atmospheric pressure and decouple the ocean dynamics. Then, based on the ocean content, you can determine what the atmospheric content will be.
        “Upwelling and downwelling are equally sensitive to temperature, that is what Henry’s law says.”
        No, it does not. Henry’s law says nothing about ocean upwelling and downwelling. You cannot push the upwelling water back down. It must travel to the poles where downwelling removes it. If there is a mismatch between the CO2 content of the upwelling and downwelling waters, then CO2 will accumulate in the surface waters.

      • Bart:
        No. Try your formula again with X-Y = 4.499 and Z = 8.999.
        The sink rate, based on human emissions/sinks in that case is:
        8.999 / 9.0 = 99.989% for a sink quantity of 8.999 GtC/year and a net gain of 0.001 GtC/year.
        Calculating that back to natural emissions/sinks:
        net natural gain X – Y = 4.499
        Where Y = 0.99989 * X
        or X = 4.499 / 0.0011111 = 40491 GtC/year
        A little overblown, but that doesn’t matter for the calculation…
        For the early period (~1959) human emissions were ~2 GtC/year and ~1 GtC/year remaining in the atmosphere:
        Z = 0.99989 * 2 = 1.99978 with a net gain of 0.00022222 GtC/year
        then X – Y = 0.99978
        or X = 0.99978 / 0.000222 = 8998 GtC/year
        Still a factor 4.5 between 1959 and 2012…
        Whatever the ratio between natural and human emissions or the sink rate, if human emissions increased a 4.5-fold and the net sink quantity increased a 4.5-fold, then the natural emissions must have increased a 4.5-fold over the same period, if they were the main cause of the increase in the atmosphere.
        For which is not the slightest indication…
        A change in sink rate between 1959 and 2012 is not probable, as the net sink quantity remained in ratio with human emissions and sinks respond to natural and human emissions alike. Even if there was a change, that doesn’t change the fact that the natural emissions should have followed the change in human emissions at exactly the same ratio over time (or didn’t change at all…).

      • Bart:
        No, it does not. It equilibrates the atmospheric partial pressure proportional to the pCO2 of the oceans. But, that does not prevent upwelling CO2 laden waters from diffusing into the surface oceans.
        Correction: it tries to equilibrate the atmospheric partial pressure with the pCO2 of the upwelling waters, which result in an influx of CO2 in ratio to the pressure difference between water and atmosphere.
        On the other side the sinks do the same and pull CO2 out of the atmosphere. The same ocean waters when drifting from the equator to the poles change from net emitters to net sinks for CO2. That is the whole story: influx and outflux both depend of local temperatures and concentration and the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere. The several million measurements at the ocean surface show some 7 μatm area weighted average overpressure in the atmosphere: the oceans are a net sink for CO2:
        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/mean.shtml
        It is the atmospheric flea on the ocean elephant’s back. For all practical purposes, you can ignore the influence of atmospheric pressure and decouple the ocean dynamics. Then, based on the ocean content, you can determine what the atmospheric content will be.
        The ocean-atmosphere system is not a static system and has nothing to do with the CO2 content of the oceans, only with the concentrations in the upwelling and sinks, their temperature and the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere. The pressure under the screw cap of a 0.5 or 1.0 or 1.5 liter bottle of Coke from the same batch at the same temperature is practically the same, even if there is 3 times as much CO2 in the liquid of the 1.5 l Coke bottle…
        For all practical purposes, the current CO2 pressure in the atmosphere is 110 μatm above the long time steady state for the current average ocean surface temperature. That pushes currently 4.5 GtC/year more into the oceans and vegetation that there comes out of the oceans and vegetation decay.
        No, it does not. Henry’s law says nothing about ocean upwelling and downwelling. You cannot push the upwelling water back down. It must travel to the poles where downwelling removes it.
        Henry’s law says a lot about pressure differences: if there is no pressure difference, there is no influx or outflux, whatever the amount of upwelling waters. The influx is directly proportional to the pressure difference between upwelling waters and the atmosphere. For a fixed upwelling water quantity the CO2 influx is only influenced by concentration (which may be assumed rather fixed in the deep oceans) and temperature at the ocean side and the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. If the latter changes, the influx and the remaining concentration in the waters flowing from the equatorial upwelling zones to the polar sink places changes too: these remain higher for the whole trajectory if the pCO2 of the atmosphere increases…
        The ultimate test is that, what I am saying is consistent with the data.
        It is inconsistent with about ALL observations. It only shows a nice correlation between temperature (in fact its derivative) and the CO2 rate of change, which represent +/- 1 ppmv around the real trend of 70 ppmv in the past 55 years. It says nothing about the cause of the 70 ppmv trend, as that is completely decoupled from the variability which is caused by a different process…

      • “For the early period (~1959) human emissions were ~2 GtC/year and ~1 GtC/year remaining…”
        Whoa, there! You are assuming the sinks instantaneously take out in proportion to X and the anthropogenic input, and are applying it to different time intervals.
        They don’t. They take out in proportion to the overall level. So, it includes all the history up to that time. So, you can’t compare different periods like this. Your equations only hold relative to an equilibrium condition.
        Hmmm… I see now you were doing that all along. I guess I didn’t pay much attention to what you were doing. Oh, well. Full stop. This is not a valid argument from the get-go.
        “Whatever the ratio between natural and human emissions or the sink rate, if human emissions increased a 4.5-fold and the net sink quantity increased a 4.5-fold, then the natural emissions must have increased a 4.5-fold over the same period, if they were the main cause of the increase in the atmosphere.”
        Wrong. It can also come about from constriction of natural sink activity, or some mix of the two.
        “…influx and outflux both depend of local temperatures and concentration and the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.”
        You are conflating influx and outflux of the atmosphere to influx and outflux of the oceans. The oceans have a continuous influx from upwelling waters and outflux in downwelling waters. Any imbalance between the two results in continuous change in the surface waters.
        Influx to the oceans from upwelling waters does not depend on atmospheric pressure or temperature.
        “The ocean-atmosphere system is not a static system and has nothing to do with the CO2 content of the oceans, only with the concentrations in the upwelling and sinks, their temperature and the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.”
        Incorrect. If you have a high concentration in the ocean, you will have a high concentration in the atmosphere, and vice versa.
        “Henry’s law says a lot about pressure differences:”
        Henry’s law says nothing about ocean upwelling and downwelling. You cannot push the upwelling water back down. It must travel to the poles where downwelling removes it.
        If the downwelling has less CO2 content than the upwelling, there will be an accumulation in the surface waters, and thereby an accumulation in the atmosphere.
        “It is inconsistent with about ALL observations. “
        It is inconsistent with the observed dynamic, dCO2/dt = k*(T – To).
        “It says nothing about the cause of the 70 ppmv trend, as that is completely decoupled from the variability which is caused by a different process…”
        Not possible. There would be observable phase distortion. There is no observable phase distortion.

      • “That may be true, be we know that the down welling water at the poles is COLDER than the upwelling water at the equator, so being colder, it has a higher CO2 content.”
        No, because the upwelling water is not drawing its CO2 content from the present atmosphere.
        Obviously, to achieve equilibrium, the total amount downwelling has to equal the amount upwelling.
        “So Bart, please explain why CO2 levels are higher today than they were during the warmer MWP ?”
        In the first place, the sensitivity is in ppmv/K/unit-of-time, not ppmv/K. So, there is no direct proportionality.
        Beyond that, the growth rates depend on boundary conditions. E.g., we do not know what the content of upwelling waters were during the MWP. There is no basis to claim that the input conditions of the past must be the same as those today.
        Additionally, over long periods of time, long term dynamics which might tend to arrest an ongoing trend may assert themselves. And, finally, the temperature and CO2 reconstructions themselves are not capable of being independently verified, so the question itself is somewhat presumptive.
        But, such considerations do not matter. We do not need to know what happened in the pre-direct-measurement past to know what is happening today. We can see it directly in the relationship between the rate of change of atmospheric CO2 and temperature.
        In the modern era (since at least 1958, when accurate measurement of atmospheric CO2 levels began), the rate of change of atmospheric CO2 is essentially proportional to appropriately baselined temperature anomaly. And, this dynamic accounts for the lion’s share of the change we have observed in that era. Human inputs have little impact.

      • “Your correlation between the two does not imply causality.”
        The notion of temperature being driven by the rate of change of CO2 is absurd. It should be incredibly obvious why, but I have already explained why up-thread anyway, so do your homework and stop disrupting the discussion.

      • Bart,
        They take out in proportion to the overall level. So, it includes all the history up to that time.
        This is not a valid argument from the get-go.
        In fact that doesn’t make any difference: the increase in the atmosphere according to the history in ice cores increased also a 4.5-fold between 1959 and 2012, just by coincidence in the same ratio as the human input, thus using the overall level increase gives the same result.
        Oh, I know, you don’t like ice cores. O.K. then, look at the increase rate at half the period 1959-2012 and at the end: at half the period, human emissions, increase in the atmosphere, rate of change and net sink rate all are roughly half of the same variables at the end of the period…
        The overall level is the direct sum of the new inputs if, as you assume, the sinks react very fast to input changes. It is in proportion to the overall level above equilibrium, if the sinks are (relatively) slow, as I am sure. In the latter case, humans anyway are the main cause of the increase, as they are twice the increase in the atmosphere…
        The calculations I have done were for your theory of a huge influence of the natural cycle…
        Human emissions were 2 GtC/year in 1959. The measured increase in the atmosphere was 1 GtC/year. Thus the net sink rate was 1 GtC/year. No matter what caused that and no matter how that was distributed in the natural cycle: less or more input, more or less output, no change at all, the net result was 1 GtC more sink than source in 1959.
        Thus don’t call that a “not a valid argument” if you don’t show how that can be rearranged without violating the mass balance. Yes that one…
        Wrong. It can also come about from constriction of natural sink activity, or some mix of the two.
        No Bart, any restriction in sink activity works for human and natural emissions alike. In all cases the natural emissions must follow human emissions in exact timing and ratio. It is either that or no change at all and humans as (near) sole cause of the increase.
        Any imbalance between the two results in continuous change in the surface waters.
        Bart, the influxes and outfluxes depend of the upwelling and downwelling pCO2 in the water phase, which increases but doesn’t change further after a step change in temperature or concentration and depends on the pCO2 in the gas phase. That is what Henry’s law says. If the pCO2 in the atmosphere increases, the influx is reduced and the outflux increased. That is called a feedback, which completely lacks in your formula.
        Influx to the oceans from upwelling waters does not depend on atmospheric pressure or temperature.
        The amount of water and CO2 in the upwelling waters doesn’t change with atmospheric pressure or temperature.
        The pCO2 of the upwelling waters does change with the surface temperature, thus the influx from the same upwelling increases with a warmer surface, decreases with a colder surface.
        The influx of CO2 in the atmosphere changes in proportion with the pCO2 difference between surface and atmosphere. Thus is reduced with a higher CO2 level in the atmosphere or increased with a lower CO2 level.
        Incorrect. If you have a high concentration in the ocean, you will have a high concentration in the atmosphere, and vice versa.
        Of course, but you were talking about quantities, that is not the same as concentrations. But even so: the (very) long time equilibrium between ocean concentrations and atmosphere for the current average ocean surface temperature is 295 ppmv, far from the 400 ppmv today. The same as for a static or dynamic equilibrium of any seawater sample at the same temperature per Henry’s law in many parts of the oceans…
        You cannot push the upwelling water back down.
        No, but you can push the CO2 releases from the upwelling waters back by increasing the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere. That is what Henry’s law says…
        Not possible. There would be observable phase distortion. There is no observable phase distortion.
        As Paul_K said some time ago, there is no phase distortion at all for a transient response, which the response of CO2 to temperature is if the response of the system is a lot slower, as is the case here.
        I haven’t seen any evidence from you that separate processes where one is high frequency (1-3 years) and has a negative slope and the other has no (fast) frequency at all and only slowly increases over time have any influence on each other.

      • Bart:
        In the first place, the sensitivity is in ppmv/K/unit-of-time, not ppmv/K. So, there is no direct proportionality.
        800,000 years of ice core analyses show direct proportionality in ppmv/K
        Current seasonal changes show direct proportionality in ppmv/K
        Current 1-3 years variability shows direct proportionality in ppmv/K
        Curve fitting shows ppmv/K/unit-of-time over the past 55 years which switches amplitudes for 35 of the 55 years if you try to match the slopes for 1976-1996 and 2000-current…
        Sounds a little meager…

      • “…just by coincidence in the same ratio …”
        Not much of a coincidence. It is, in fact, essentially tautological for any two approximately linear graphs.
        Far, far less unlikely than the matching of the trend in temperature with the trend in dCO2/dt when the variations are matched. But, I guess you cite “coincidence” only when it supports your POV.
        “No Bart, any restriction in sink activity works for human and natural emissions alike.”
        The natural flows are much, much larger, so the absolute impact is much, much larger.
        The increase can come from either an increase in upwelling content, or a decrease in downwelling content. It is a balance, so hitting either side of the balance has the same effect.
        “No, but you can push the CO2 releases from the upwelling waters back by increasing the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.”
        There is more coming up every minute. You’ve got to downwell it, or it will accumulate in the surface oceans. If it accumulates in the surface oceans, it will also accumulate in the atmosphere.
        The downwelling is sensitive to temperature. Higher temperature, less downwelling.
        “…which the response of CO2 to temperature is if the response of the system is a lot slower, as is the case here.”
        You are very far out of your depth here. If this were true, there would be a very prominent phase distortion. For about the 1000th time, there is no observable phase distortion.
        “I haven’t seen any evidence from you that separate processes where one is high frequency (1-3 years) and has a negative slope and the other has no (fast) frequency at all and only slowly increases over time have any influence on each other.”
        And, again, that is completely irrelevant. There is an input: temperature. There is an output: rate of change of CO2. There is a trend in the temperature input. There is a trend in the CO2 output. They both match when the variations are matched.
        Apart from it being a staggering coincidence if the one trend did not cause the other, for the input trend NOT to cause the output trend, it has to be removed by a natural high-pass process of some sort. That high-pass response would produce very observable phase distortion right in the middle of the observable frequency spread.
        And, again, for the 1001th time, there is no observable phase distortion.
        It really isn’t even a close call, Ferdinand. My POV will win out eventually, when all the data come in and people free their minds from their preconceptions. Until next time, adieu.

      • Brian G Valentine @ August 5, 2015 at 5:35 pm
        “Bart you are commuting the same error that McLean did in his 2009 paper.”
        No, sorry. Not even close. So long Brian, or David Socrates, or whatever your alias du jour. Your comments are too stupid for words.
        [Reply: Correct. “Brian Valentine” is the sockpuppet/identity thief ‘David Socrates’, among some twenty other fake names. ~mod.]

      • Brian, or David, or whatever your nom du jour: none of your criticisms are even remotely applicable or relevant. You’re just tiresome.

      • Bart:
        The natural flows are much, much larger, so the absolute impact is much, much larger.
        As I have proven with my restricted knowledge of math, no matter the ratio between natural and human emissions and sinks, if the human emissions (and human sinks) increased a 4.5-fold over the past 55 years and so did the increase in the atmosphere and so did the net sink rate, the natural emissions (and sinks) must have increased a 4.5-fold too if they are the main cause of the increase. There is no alternative way, except no appreciable change at all in natural throughput as humans are fully responsible for all increase…
        There is more coming up every minute. You’ve got to downwell it, or it will accumulate in the surface oceans. If it accumulates in the surface oceans, it will also accumulate in the atmosphere.
        You have very strange ideas about what happens in the real world: CO2 comes up with a lot of water from the deep oceans. When it reaches the atmosphere, either the CO2 is released (in ratio to the partial pressure difference between ocean surface and atmosphere) or what is not released stays in the ocean waters which flow from the upwelling zones near the equator to the sink zones near the poles.
        While the waters are warm, they may release more CO2 in ratio with the partial pressure difference. While they are cooling, the pCO2(oceans) decrease and once below atmospheric pCO2, they take more and more CO2 with them. Thus any new parcel of deep ocean upwelling shows the same depletion and enrichment of CO2, which heavily depends of the (initial, later local) concentration, local temperature and CO2 level in the atmosphere
        There is no way that CO2 will accumulate in the ocean surface, as long as the waters where it is dissolved are flowing continuously to the sinks. Only an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, or a lower ocean temperature, can give a higher residual concentration. That is the opposite of what you think: more uptake than release…
        They both match when the variations are matched.
        They don’t match in 35 from the 55 years: if you match the trends, the variability is opposite between CO2 rate of change and T rate of change…
        Apart from it being a staggering coincidence if the one trend did not cause the other, for the input trend NOT to cause the output trend, it has to be removed by a natural high-pass process of some sort.
        As I said many times to no avail, the increase in temperature 1959-2012 of ~0.6 K is good for a CO2 increase of maximum 10 ppmv per Henry’s law, no matter if that is static, in a laboratory, or dynamic over the full ocean surface. That is peanuts compared to the 70 ppmv increase which is measured over the same period. Without any filtering, there is hardly any influence of temperature in the CO2 trend (even negative in vegetation) and thus no phase distortion…
        Almost all of the variability is the result of the influence of temperature variability on vegetation uptake/release of CO2 in the order of 4-5 ppmv/K, which zeroes out in 2-3 years while the overall influence of vegetation is an increasing sink. Thus not the cause of the CO2 increase in the atmosphere…
        Thus again: variability and trend in the rate of change of CO2 are not from the same process and there is not the slightest indication that temperature is the main cause of the increase in the atmosphere.

      • “There is no way that CO2 will accumulate in the ocean surface, as long as the waters where it is dissolved are flowing continuously to the sinks.”
        If you are in equilibrium, then the CO2 that downwells is precisely the amount needed to balance everything out. If you raise the temperature, you will no longer satisfy that equilibrium condition, and there will be less downwelling. Than you get accumulation.
        There is no way around it, Ferdinand. If you have a continuous flow, and you change conditions of the flow, then you are going to get a sensitivity with temporal units, in this case, ppmv/K/unit-of-time.
        “They don’t match in 35 from the 55 years…”
        A very silly argument. It’s just about as good a match as anyone could hope to get with stochastic data. It is an invalid technique to focus on small intervals over which there is low SNR and proclaim it as good as evaluations of longer periods with high SNR.
        “As I said many times to no avail…”
        And, why should your words alone carry any weight, especially when they are obviously wrong?
        “Without any filtering…”
        You do not have the option of no filtering. If you are going to remove the influence of the trend in temperature from the trend in dCO2/dt, you must filter it out.
        “…there is not the slightest indication…”
        Once again, very strong indication right here:
        http://i1136.photobucket.com/albums/n488/Bartemis/temp-CO2-long.jpg_zpsszsfkb5h.png
        Really good-bye for now, this time.

      • Bart:
        If you are in equilibrium, then the CO2 that downwells is precisely the amount needed to balance everything out. If you raise the temperature, you will no longer satisfy that equilibrium condition, and there will be less downwelling. Than you get accumulation.
        And if you accumulate CO2 in the atmosphere, that will restore the equilibrium that is exactly what Henry’s law says at 4-17 ppmv/K for the seawater – atmosphere system.
        Is it so difficult to understand that an increased CO2 pressure in the atmosphere will suppress the influx of CO2 from the oceans into the atmosphere and increase the outflux from the atmosphere into the oceans?
        If you have a continuous flow, and you change conditions of the flow, then you are going to get a sensitivity with temporal units, in this case, ppmv/K/unit-of-time.
        Temporarily, until the pressure in the atmosphere increased (or decreased) with the necessary change to fully compensate for the change in conditions. Then again it is ppmv/K in compliance with Henry’s law and 800,000 years of history.
        A very silly argument. It’s just about as good a match as anyone could hope to get with stochastic data. It is an invalid technique to focus on small intervals over which there is low SNR and proclaim it as good as evaluations of longer periods with high SNR.
        If in 2/3rd of the time the correlation is upside down if you match the trend lines, then there is something fundamentally wrong: your match of the trend lines is because you have endpoints which show enough difference in the right direction.
        With an arbitrary factor and slope you can match the slopes or the amplitudes but not both, or just by coincidence, because both are from completely different processes.
        And, why should your words alone carry any weight, especially when they are obviously wrong?
        Because that are not my words, that are the words from Dr. Henry in 1803, confirmed by millions of direct measurements of CO2 in seawater. So all these measurements are wrong, all the other observations are wrong, because you can match two straight lines…
        You do not have the option of no filtering. If you are going to remove the influence of the trend in temperature from the trend in dCO2/dt, you must filter it out.
        Nonsense: if you add a sinusoid of different frequencies to a an increasing trend, there is no distortion of any of the frequencies in the integration, only a shift of 90 degrees:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/matlab_sin_t_co2_slope.jpg
        The direct influence of the variability in temperature of +/- 0.3°C is +/- 1 ppmv. The increase of 0.6°C in 55 years is good for maximum 10 ppmv, that is all. The rest is from human emissions, as you still have not shown from any observation – including from the oceans – that the natural carbon cycle increased a 4.5-fold in the past 55 years…

      • “And if you accumulate CO2 in the atmosphere, that will restore the equilibrium that is exactly what Henry’s law says at 4-17 ppmv/K for the seawater – atmosphere system.”
        No. You will equilibrate the atmospheric content with the ocean content, but that will not force more CO2 to downwell. Quite the contrary, it means less CO2 in the downwelling waters.
        You cannot increase the downward transport by removing gas that would otherwise sink with the downwelling.
        “…if you add a sinusoid of different frequencies to a an increasing trend, there is no distortion of any of the frequencies in the integration, only a shift of 90 degrees:”
        The trend in temperature MUST produce a trend in dCO2/dt UNLESS you take it out.
        “The direct influence of the variability in temperature of +/- 0.3°C is +/- 1 ppmv.”
        No. There is a 90 deg phase discrepancy.
        You are hopelessly wrong here, Ferdinand. Not even remotely in the ballpark. On any of these points. Just not even close.
        I really want to get out of this stale thread. But, you keep saying such stupid things that compel me to respond.
        All right. Done. I’m going to erase this link from my history and look back no more.

      • Bart:
        No. You will equilibrate the atmospheric content with the ocean content, but that will not force more CO2 to downwell. Quite the contrary, it means less CO2 in the downwelling waters.
        You cannot increase the downward transport by removing gas that would otherwise sink with the downwelling.

        Bart, all what you show in these sentences is that you don’t know what you are talking about.
        At the downwelling sites, the partial pressure of CO2 in seawater at the main sinking place (NE Atlantic) is around 250 μatm. The atmosphere is currently at 400 μatm (~ppmv). That difference pushes CO2 in the waters which flow to the bottom of the oceans which return some 1000 years later as upwelling near the Chilean/Peruvian coast.
        The CO2 flux at the sink site is directly proportionally to the pCO2 difference between atmosphere and oceans, which thus pushes CO2 from the atmosphere into the sinking waters (about 40 GtC/year), not reverse.
        If the ocean temperature increases, that will reduce the outflux and thus the concentration in the sinking waters.
        If the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere increases, that will increase the outflux and thus the concentration in the sinking waters.
        That is exactly opposite to what you said above.
        The opposite happens at the upwelling sites…
        The trend in temperature MUST produce a trend in dCO2/dt UNLESS you take it out.
        It does produce a small offset and zero trend in dCO2/dt, as the atmospheric increase is maximum 10 ppmv over the period 1959-2012 per Henry’s law for the oceans minus what is removed by the biosphere thanks to higher temperatures and more CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.
        Assuming a rather linear increase in temperature and a 16 ppmv/K influence of temperature on CO2, that gives a flat offset of 0.2 ppmv/year caused by the temperature increase for the CO2 rate of change, modulated by the T- and CO2 variability which is completely decoupled from the temperature trend (and has a negative offset in the CO2 rate of change).
        The observed increase is 70 ppmv in the same period.
        Humans emitted over 140 ppmv over the same period…
        There is a 90 deg phase discrepancy.
        A step response of temperature gives a transient response in CO2 in the atmosphere, thus CO2 lags the temperature change in all times and for all frequencies.
        Paul_K did show that for a sinusoid or a mix of sinusoids, the lag is always pi/2, whatever the frequencies, if the system response is slow enough, which is certainly the case for the ocean-atmosphere system.
        CO2 changes lag T changes with pi/2
        Taking the derivatives moves dCO2/dt and dT/dt pi/2 back in time
        Thus dCO2/dt lags dT/dt with pi/2
        and T changes synchronize with dCO2/dt changes
        T changes cause CO2 changes with a lag:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_co2_1990-2002.jpg
        dT/dt changes cause dCO2/dt changes with a lag:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_co2_der.png
        T changes synchronize with dCO2/dt changes, but that has no physical meaning.
        T is not responsible for the slope in dCO2/dt and there is no slope in dT/dt.
        Humans are the main cause, as their contribution increased with twice the slope of dCO2/dt and there is no sign of any increase in natural contribution.

  25. Carbon is only the most prevalent element in the universe (let alone on the planet), and hey presto, what DO you know, it turns up in desert aquifers. Yawn….

      • … and the increased CO2 in the atmosphere is a good thing.
        If your conjecture (guess, supposition, speculation, or at best deduction) is correct, and humans are responsible, then on behalf of the responsible humans … you are welcome.
        I will try to continue to do my part in maintaining a sustainable atmosphere.

      • Agreed that the increased CO2 is a good thing at least for plants…
        But the argument that the increase maybe not is or isn’t caused by humans is the worst argument skeptics can use in any debate with warmistas…

      • Not the stupid pseudo-mass balance argument again! Haven’t you learned that lesson yet, Ferdinand?
        I guess not.

  26. The question isn’t the amount of mankind’s contribution to the carbon balance, but comparisons to the natural sources. How can anybody claim that mankind contributes the largest percentage when the amounts of the natural sources and sinks are nothing but wild ass guesses?

    • Nicholas,
      Something like a mass balance:
      increase in the atmosphere = human emissions + natural emissions – natural sinks
      4.5 GtC/year = 9 GtC/year + X – Y
      X – Y = – 4.5 GtC/year
      The net contribution from all natural sinks and sources together is negative, already 55 years, deduced from accurate CO2 measurements in the atmosphere and the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use which may be somewhat underestimated by under the counter sales… Thus regardless how large X and Y are, nature is a net, increasing sink for CO2, no matter where and how that happens.
      The mass balance is supported by a lot of other observations which all point to one source: human emissions:
      http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_origin.html
      There is one pure theoretical exception: if the natural fluxes increased a 4-fold in the past 55 years, thereby dwarfing the human 4-fold increase in emissions over the same period. But there is not the slightest indication in any observation that hints to such increase, to the contrary.

      • A really, really stupid argument. Natural sinks are forced by anthropogenic forcing. They expand in response to it. That portion which is induced by artificial forcing is an artificial sink, and it has to go to the other side of the ledger.

      • Math somewhat misleading: If human emissions are only 4% of total emissions, and natural sources are 96%, it requires only a small change natural sources to match or dwarf human source changes.
        Eg, a doubling of human sources would be equaled by a roughly 4% change in natural sources. Since the climate in general has been warming for the last 3 centuries, and that might promote changes in natural processes that are hard to measure (or model) to such accuracy, there is room for skepticism that human activities alone are the source of rising CO2 in the air.
        I understand that using various isotope measurements the humans-cause-the-change argument is strengthened. Nevertheless, even those arguments are somewhat model-dependent, and small errors could be important in the final numbers—-again given the huge disproportion of natural vs human emissions of CO2.
        There have been massive changes in atmospheric CO2 over geologic time scales that were neither caused by humans nor understood in detail. Though the argument that humans are uniquely causing the current rise is weighty, it is still appropriately subject to skepticism.

      • kwinterkorn,
        Good argument, but what is measured in the past 55 years is that the natural variability of the carbon cycle is quite limited at +/- 1 ppmv around the trend, mainly caused by the influence of temperature variations (El Niño, Pinatubo) on vegetation uptake of CO2, see the graph here.
        The main reason for the small year by year variability may be in the fact that temperature in general gives opposite fluxes in oceans and vegetation…

      • Bart:
        Natural sinks are forced by anthropogenic forcing. They expand in response to it.
        That is a really stupid argument: either humans are responsible for the increase in the atmosphere and they are fully responsible for the net sink rate, or most of the increase is caused by a huge increase in some natural influx and then the human emissions are hardly influencing the sink rate in comparison.
        I have given you the calculation for a 90/10 ratio natural/human cause: the human addition was responsible for such a small fraction of the extra sinks, that most of the human addition remained in the atmosphere, which contradicts the premise…

      • “…either humans are responsible for the increase in the atmosphere and they are fully responsible for the net sink rate, or most of the increase is caused by a huge increase in some natural influx and then the human emissions are hardly influencing the sink rate in comparison.”
        Are you on any mind altering medication, Ferdinand? Because this is hallucinatory.

      • Bart,
        Some lack of arguments?
        As you are perfect in math, show me the math for the contribution in sink widening by 4.5 ppmv/year human emissions if they are dwarfed by an increased natural carbon cycle, fully responsible for the total increase in the atmosphere and thus for the bulk of the sink capacity…

      • I’ve shown the math dozens of times, particularly in the discussion at Dr. Curry’s blog here. That you do not comprehend the maths does not mean that I have not explained them time and time again.

      • Bart,
        I have specifically asked to show that a natural cycle that increased a threefold or fivefold can show a fourfold increase in net sink rate in combination with a fourfold increase in human emissions, you never showed that calculation…
        And again you are avoiding the other question: how large is the human contribution in the sink rate widening if all increase in the atmosphere is natural…

      • I’ve shown, and I’ve shown, and I’ve shown. It’s really basic feedback theory. I don’t know how I could make it any plainer than I already have in the past.

      • Bart,
        You have shown a theoretical possibility where the natural flux can dwarf the human input. But that only can fit the 4-fold increase as seen in the atmosphere and net sink rate if the natural flux increased a 4-fold. Not a 3-fold or a 5-fold. Just show that I am wrong and that you can do it with a 3-fold or 5-fold increase in the natural carbon cycle…
        Besides that, there is not the slightest indication in any observation that the natural carbon cycle increased over time. To the contrary: all observations show a lack of increase…
        Neither have you shown that the extra human input has a substantial influence on the sink rate if the increase in the atmosphere is caused by the natural carbon cycle.

  27. Re: terrestrial carbon sink 7/28/15
    Humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
    So man emits, say, 6.4 GtC/yr of which 40% stays in the atmosphere. IPCC reckons that “Vegetation, Soil & Detritus” plus “Land Use Change” emit 121.2 GtC/yr of which 122.6 GtC/yr is absorbed back from the atmosphere, so -1.4/121.2 = -1.2% “stays” in the atmosphere. It contends that the “Surface Ocean” emits 90.6 GtC/yr and absorbs 92.2 GtC/yr from the atmosphere, so -1.6/90.6 = -1.8% “stays” in the atmosphere. AR4, Fig. 7.3 “Carbon cycle”, p. 515. The surface total emissions, natural plus (anthropogenic) land use changes, is 211.6 GtC/yr of which all is returned to the surface plus another 3 GtC/yr, of which the bulk is undoubtedly the 60% or so absorbed of man’s emissions.
    Alternatively between the surface and the atmosphere, IPCC shows 190.2 natural emissions with 190.2 absorbed plus 28 GtC/yr anthropogenic emissions with 24.8 absorbed. What remains in the atmosphere is 0% of natural CO2 and 11% of anthropogenic CO2.
    And where did the leaf water go? Does it buffer the flux between the atmosphere and the land?
    The total amount of CO2 that dissolves in leaf water amounts to about 270 PgC/yr, i.e., more than one-third of all the CO2 in the atmosphere. Citations deleted, TAR, ¶3.2.2 Terrestrial Carbon Processes, ¶3.2.2.1, p. 191.
    Why is the 3.2GtC/yr of natural CO2 remaining in the air all charged to fossil fuel emissions in one place, and charged to everything from the surface in another? Why do none of the natural emissions stay in the atmosphere while either 11% or 40% of man’s emissions stay in the air? What is the difference between natural and anthropogenic CO2 that possibly could account for its source-dependent absorption rate?
    And what happened to Henry’s Law of Solubility? Henry’s solubility curves are only known for thermodynamic equilibrium, which exists nowhere in Earth’s climate system. But whatever the curves might be, the physics of the reaction still occur and on time scales instantaneous to climate scales. Where the water is warmed, it emits CO2 and where it cools, it absorbs CO2. When cold water upwells in the ocean, it is heated to outgas CO2. Then as it slowly migrates to the poles, cooling all the way, it absorbs CO2. Yet Henry’s Law remains undiscovered in IPCC Assessment Reports.
    In short, all man’s emissions are absorbed in surface water, fresh or saline, instantaneously on climate time scales. The amount that man adds is no more than 8 GtC/yr to a reservoir on the order of 45,000 GtC, or about one fiftieth of one percent, undetectable among the facts of climate.
    What some authorities call IPCC climate knowledge, subjectively qualified by peer review, publication in certified journals, and supported by a census among certified practitioners, has gaping holes due to its lack of objectivity. Modern Science demands something entirely different —models must actually work.

    • Jeff,
      Most of the human emissions are mixed into the bulk of the atmosphere and simply add to the total. As long as that doesn’t change the dynamic equilibrium (“steady state”) between oceans and atmosphere, not much happens. Once the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere exceeds the steady state, some CO2 from the bulk (whatever its origin) will be pressed into the oceans surface and deep oceans and in plant alveoli.
      Henry’s law in the literature gives 4-17 ppmv/K for seawater. The ice cores give 8 ppmv/K over the past 800,000 years. Seems quite reasonable that the 0.8 K increase since the LIA is good for ~6 ppmv change in steady state between oceans and atmosphere. The extra 110 ppmv above steady state is what pushes some extra 2.15 ppmv/year in the oceans and vegetation.
      There is only one fast sink for CO2: the ocean surface, but that is limited in capacity to about 10% of the change in the atmosphere, due to ocean (buffer) chemistry. The deep oceans have much more capacity but a much more restricted exchange with the atmosphere and the more permanent storage in vegetation is even slower. Thus while there is an enormous storage available, the speed of uptake is the main bottleneck and our emissions currently are higher than the extra CO2 pressure gives as uptake.
      While humans are fully responsible for the 30% increase in CO2, the original human emission CO2 molecules are redistributed over all reservoirs and currently are only about 9% remaining in the atmosphere.

      • Nope. It is a dynamic system. Henry’s law does not apply directly. There is a consistent flow into the surface system from the upwelling oceans. It must be disposed of at the same rate, or there will be a steady increase. And, that is why we see the dynamic unfolding as
        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)

      • Wow Bart, had expected your comment much earlier…
        As far as all observations show, the CO2 downwelling of the oceans near the poles more than compensates for the CO2 upwelling near the equator: the sink rate of the deep oceans is larger than the source rate, due to the increased CO2 pressure in the atmosphere. See:
        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/mean.shtml
        The steady state level of the ocean-atmosphere system responds with the same increase of about 8 ppmv/K as for a static system according to Henry’s law. No way that a small difference in temperature gives a continuous net influx of CO2 without negative feedback from the increased pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/upwelling_temp.jpg

      • I know Bart, whatever argument I use, you remain unconvinced…
        The dynamic model responds to the same influences of temperature and pressure as a static system for any part of the oceans.
        In the case of upwelling, any local temperature increase will increase the local pCO2 with ~8 μatm/K. That makes that the local influx increases with a few %, as that is proportional to the ΔpCO2 between ocean and atmosphere.
        In the case of downwelling, any local temperature increase will increase the local pCO2 with ~8 μatm/K. That makes that the local outflux decreases with a few %, as that is proportional to the ΔpCO2 between atmosphere and oceans.
        That makes that the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase over time. When the increase in the atmosphere reaches 8 ppmv extra, the pressure difference between upwelling and atmosphere and the pressure difference between atmosphere and sink places is restored to the same level as before the temperature increase and so are the fluxes: no further increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
        Thus the dynamic increase in CO2 is exactly the same as for a static CO2 increase for the same temperature increase per Henry’s law…

      • “I know Bart, whatever argument I use, you remain unconvinced…”
        That is because the evidence is clearly against you.

      • What evidence? That you can match two straight lines with an arbitrary factor and offset? I call that curve fitting without any physical basis…
        Moreover, the variability is from one process (temperature influence on vegetation) but the slope from another process (not from vegetation, that is an increasing sink for CO2).
        That is really all you have… For the rest your theory violates every single known observation. Only one would be enough to kill your theory…

      • “That you can match two straight lines with an arbitrary factor and offset?”
        I match the entire waveform, across the entire spectrum. It is conclusive.
        You go into contortions to try to separate the slope and the variability, but it is ridiculous. The data are telling us exactly what they appear to be telling us – the temperature relationship explains the entire CO2 dynamic over the interval of observation.

    • Bart 7/29/15 @ 1:26 pm said,
      Nope. It is a dynamic system. Henry’s law does not apply directly. There is a consistent flow into the surface system from the upwelling oceans. It must be disposed of at the same rate, or there will be a steady increase.
      Henry’s Law still applies. Henry’s Coefficients are just unquantified for anything but thermodynamic equilibrium. CO2 is absorbed proportional to atmospheric pressure and inversely proportional to solute temperature. The rate is rather irrelevant on climate time scales, and when Earth’s temperature is rising, the surface water temperatures rise, and CO2 concentration increases in the atmosphere. And, of course, vice versa.
      Ferdinand Engelbeen 7/29/15 @ 12:34 pm said,
      Most of the human emissions are mixed into the bulk of the atmosphere and simply add to the total. As long as that doesn’t change the dynamic equilibrium (“steady state”) between oceans and atmosphere, not much happens. Once the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere exceeds the steady state, some CO2 from the bulk (whatever its origin) will be pressed into the oceans surface and deep oceans and in plant alveoli.
      Thermodynamic equilibrium is the simultaneous occurrence of mechanical, chemical, and thermal equilibrium. By dynamic equilibrium do you mean mechanical equilibrium? If so, it never exists (either). The surface layer is called the mixed layer because it is perpetually churning and perpetually transferring thermal energy by radiation, conduction, and convection. There is no steady state, and no theory or mechanism by which the climate rests in some steady state – at least before the Sun starts to run out of fuel.
      Ferdinand says,
      There is only one fast sink for CO2: the ocean surface, but that is limited in capacity to about 10% of the change in the atmosphere, due to ocean (buffer) chemistry.
      All surface water is engaged in the flux of CO2 with the atmosphere. According to IPCC figures, the greatest flux is with leaf water (270 GtC/yr vs. about 200 for vegetation etc. and ocean combined). IPCC just forgot about leaf water after the TAR.
      The buffer, also know as the Revelle Buffer, is a fiction. Revelle & Suess couldn’t make it work when they introduced it in 1957, and they used that failure in that paper to pray for funds from the First Geophysical Year. When IPCC tried to measure the Revelle Factor, they re-discovered Henry’s Law, which it promptly concealed altogether for AR4. Compare IPCC before and after figures, reprinted as Figures 3 and 4 here:
      http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2007/06/on_why_co2_is_known_not_to_hav.html .
      The solution to the carbonate equations, known famously as the Bjerrum Plot, applies only in thermodynamic equilibrium, which exists nowhere in the climate system. Zeebe, R. E., and D. A. Wolf-Gladrow, Carbon dioxide, dissolved (ocean). Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments, Ed. V. Gornitz, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Earth Science, p. 1. The misapplication of those equations converts the CO2 buffer in the surface ocean buffer mechanism which holds excess aqueous CO2 in the water and in entrained air into an imaginary atmospheric CO2 buffer, holding excess CO2 in abeyance and away from Henry’s Law of Solubility. IPCC experts invented this mechanism so that anthropogenic CO2 could accumulate in the atmosphere to make their models catastrophic. (Man’s emissions alone weren’t near big enough to scare the policymakers.) And as a bonus, this bogus model also cause anthropogenic (only) CO2 to acidify the oceans.

      • Jeff,
        Thermodynamic equilibrium is the simultaneous occurrence of mechanical, chemical, and thermal equilibrium.
        Steady state is a form of equilibrium which means that all exchanges, that is the sum of all influxes and the sum of all outfluxes are equal and nothing happens with the amounts in the different reservoirs. While that is the ideal situation that never exists in the real world, one can use that as base over longer periods to make comparisons.
        What may be clear is that when you start from steady state, any disturbance (temperature, human emissions) will have an influence on a steady state process. In general, for a rather stable process, the response will be to counteract the disturbance.
        In the case of human emissions, the increase in the atmosphere gives an unbalance between (ocean) inputs and outputs: more CO2 is going out than coming in. That is currently not enough to fully compensate for the human input.
        All surface water is engaged in the flux of CO2 with the atmosphere. According to IPCC figures, the greatest flux is with leaf water (270 GtC/yr vs. about 200 for vegetation etc. and ocean combined). IPCC just forgot about leaf water after the TAR.
        Leaf water and anything within the biological carbon cycle can be measured via the oxygen balance. That shows that the total biosphere is a net sink of ~1 GtC/year for CO2:
        http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
        The buffer, also know as the Revelle Buffer, is a fiction.
        The solubility of CO2 in fresh water is extremely small, in seawater about 10 times higher, thanks to its buffer capacity. Still Henry’s law is applicable, but that is only for dissolved free CO2, not for bicarbonates or carbonates.
        Free CO2 in fresh water is about 99%, 1% is bicarbonate. Free CO2 in seawater is only 1%, the rest is 90% bicarbonate and 9% carbonate (see the Bjerrum plot). Thus a 100% increase of CO2 in the atmosphere will give a 100% increase of free CO2 in fresh water (99% in total carbon) and a 100% increase of free CO2 in seawater (2% in total carbon), but that shifts its chemical equilibriums between the different species so that the total carbon species increase (DIC) is around 10% of the increase in the atmosphere.
        That is not only theoretically so:
        http://www.eng.warwick.ac.uk/staff/gpk/Teaching-undergrad/es427/Exam%200405%20Revision/Ocean-chemistry.pdf
        But also measured at several fixed stations in the oceans:
        http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/27-1_bates.pdf
        Fig. 3 gives the change in DIC of the ocean surface: about 10% of the change in CO2 of the atmosphere over the same period.
        Fig. 6 gives the calculated Revelle factor, based on DIC and total alkalinity (TA) and the observed Revelle factor…

    • “Henry’s Law still applies.”
      Not in the way Ferdinand is saying. It isn’t a static pool of water with a fixed pCO2. It is a dynamic body in which there is a consisten inflow and outflow, and any imbalance between the two flows will produce a net gain in surface ocean pCO2. Any persistent imbalance will cause a persistent rise in surface ocean pCO2.
      The inflow was set in motion centuries ago, and can be taken as an exogenous input. The rate of outflow is, however, temperature dependent. When temperature causes an imbalance between the flows, then you have a temperature dependent rate of change of surface ocean pCO2.
      Now, you can apply Henry’s Law. A steadily increasing pCO2 in the surface oceans causes a steadily increasing partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere.

      • Bart,
        The inflow of CO2 at the upwelling zones is a matter of total water upwelling and the pCO2 difference between upwelling and atmosphere. If we may assume that the total amount of water upwelling from the depth didn’t change much over time (there is more fear for a reduction in sink rate, thus also upwelling) then only concentration and temperature are important for the pCO2 of the oceans at the upwelling zones.
        The influx then is a matter of wind speed (which we assume constant over time) and pCO2 difference. Any increase in temperature will give an increase in pCO2 of the surface waters at ~8 μatm/K. Any substantial increase in upwelling concentration (for which is no indication at all) will give a substantial increase of pCO2 in the surface waters.
        Where you go completely wrong is that that you don’t take into account the negative feedback from the increasing pressure in the atmosphere. For a fixed temperature increase or a fixed concentration increase in the upwelling waters, at first instance the ΔpCO2 between ocean surface and atmosphere increased and the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase until the ΔpCO2 between oceans and atmosphere is restored to what it was before the increase in temperature or concentration. At that moment the influx is again the same as the original flux. There is no piling up of CO2 in the ocean waters or atmosphere from a fixed increase in temperature or concentration. None at all:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/upwelling_incr_temp.jpg
        Thus your formula:
        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)
        in reality should be:
        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0) – ΔpCO2(t-t0)
        where ΔpCO2(t-t0) is the increase in CO2 of the atmosphere since t0
        At the moment that a new steady state is reached, dCO2/dt = 0 and
        ΔpCO2(t-t0) = k*(T – T0)
        where k = ~8 μatm/K, which is what Henry’s law says…

      • Let us see where the variability in rate of change of CO2 originates.
        The variability is certainly caused by temperature, but is quite modest: +/- 1 ppmv around the trend:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_co2_1990-2002.jpg
        The period is chosen for its inclusion of the largest temperature variability’s: the 1992 Pinatubo and the 1998 El Niño. In the graph the temperature variability is enhanced with a factor 8 to obtain the (long-term) CO2 variability, but the short term influence is more likely around 4-5 ppmv/°C. The increase of CO2 in that period meanwhile is around 20 ppmv while the average temperature hardly changed. What can be seen is a 90° shift in phase between temperature and CO2 increase certainly for the El Niño period.
        To know the main origin of the variability (oceans or vegetation) in the CO2 rate of change, one can look at the simultaneous change in δ13C: if they are opposite to each other, changes in the biosphere are dominant. If they parallel each other, changes in the oceans are dominant. Here the plot of the CO2 rate of change and δ13C rate of change, together with the temperature rate of change:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_dco2_d13C_mlo.jpg
        CO2 and δ13C rate of changes are completely opposite to each other, which means that the CO2 rate of change variability is by far dominated by changes in the biosphere. Temperature changes are the main driving factor as the temperature derivative shows, which leads the CO2 derivative changes with 90°.
        Does temperature drive the overall increase in CO2? Not for its influence on the biosphere: the biosphere as a whole in average is a net sink for CO2, at least since 1993. From Bender e.a.:
        http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/bender_dCO2.jpg
        The biosphere as a whole sequestered about 1 GtC/year (0.5 ppmv/year) as CO2 over the period 1993-2002. Since then it may only be more, as the earth is greening… Thus while the influence of the temperature variability on the CO2 rate of change variability is clear, there is only a negative influence from the same process on the overall increase of CO2 and CO2 rate of change.
        That makes that the variability of the CO2 rate of change and the slope of the CO2 rate of change are not caused by the same process and that any match between the two from temperature variability + slope by an arbitrary factor and offset is pure coincidence.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen
        July 30, 2015 at 3:35 am
        At that moment the influx is again the same as the original flux.
        That is true for a temperature increase, but not true for a concentration increase. If the concentration at the upwelling side increased, the influx at a new steady state increases too to compensate about half the original extra influx caused by the increase in concentration of the upwelling. The other half is by the increase in outflux…

      • “in reality should be:
        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0) – ΔpCO2(t-t0)”

        Wrong. Firstly, there is no indication of such a term in the data within the timeframe of observation. Secondly, were there such a term, and it were significant, it would prevent human inputs from having much effect, either.

      • “That makes that the variability of the CO2 rate of change and the slope of the CO2 rate of change are not caused by the same process…”
        Wrong. There is no phase distortion indicating a separation of the processes.

      • Bart:
        Wrong. Firstly, there is no indication of such a term in the data within the timeframe of observation. Secondly, were there such a term, and it were significant, it would prevent human inputs from having much effect, either.
        The terms only reflect the influence of temperature on dCO2/dt, not the influence of human emissions. With human emissions, the increase in the atmosphere from 1 K temperature increase is surpassed by two years of human emissions, completely dwarfing the influence of the temperature increase…
        The full terms then are:
        dCO2/dt = k2(k*(T – T(1850)) + pCO2(1850) – pCO2(t)) + dCO2/dt(emissions)
        where k*(T – T(1850)) is the change in steady state level (~8 ppmv/K) since 1850 due to temperature changes
        and k2(k*(T – T(1850)) + pCO2(1850) – pCO2(t)) is the sink rate, which is directly proportional to the difference between actual pCO2 and steady state pCO2 in 1850 (~285 ppmv) + the temperature influence.
        That gives the red line in following curve:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/dco2_em6.jpg
        The green line is the actual dCO2/dt curve, which is heavily influenced by the effect of short term temperature changes on vegetation. As that levels off within 2-3 years and the overall trend of vegetation is more sink than source, that is not the cause of the increasing trend.
        Wrong. There is no phase distortion indicating a separation of the processes.
        Bart, you may be a master in phase analysis, but the observations prove (as rock solid as can be from any observation) that the short term variability in CO2 rate of change is from the influence of temperature on vegetation, while the long term increase in CO2 rate of change is not caused by vegetation at all.
        Even if the long term trend is the result of the temperature increase (for which is no indication), even then it is not from the same process as which caused the variability in CO2 rate of change.
        As human emissions are about twice the increase in the atmosphere and temperature shows not more than 8 ppmv/K over the past 800,000 years, I don’t see any reason that temperature would be the cause of the increase in the atmosphere. Neither that there would be any phase distortion as both processes are completely independent of each other and for one of them not even temperature dependent.

      • Just awful, Ferdinand. I don’t even know where to begin. Your equations have no feedback. There is no action and reaction. They just spontaneously produce the output you want, for no particular reason at all. It’s a fantasy.
        I’m sorry, no. You do not understand the math, but there is no getting around it. The trend in dCO2/dt is due to the trend in temperatures. There is no doubt about it.

      • Bart,
        You are much better in math that is clear, but you have no knowledge of the physical/chemical processes that play a role in the carbon cycle, that is clear too.
        – There is no “steadily increasing partial pressure” in the upwelling zone for either a fixed temperature step or a fixed concentration step in the upwelling. CO2 doesn’t accumulate there. Either it enters the atmosphere or it stays there, depending of the pCO2 difference between the two. With sufficient increase in the atmosphere, a new steady state level is reached between upwelling and sinks. The pCO2 feedback from the atmosphere completely lacks in your formula.
        – The fast variability and the trend in the CO2 rate of change are from different processes, no matter what your math says. Ask anybody who even has the slightest knowledge of organic chemistry and he/she will confirm that.
        Thus sorry, your theory doesn’t hold…

  28. “About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean…”
    “About” & “roughly” or does anyone even know?
    Or is it 45% (AR4) or maybe 43% (IPCC AR5) or the World Bank 4 report’s W.A.G or IGSS’s?

    • Nicholas Schroeder:
      You ask:

      “About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean…”

      “About” & “roughly” or does anyone even know?

      The statement you quote is untrue propaganda.
      The amounts are NOT proportions of the human addition to the atmosphere but are approximately equivalent to those proportions.
      The amounts are NOT known.
      And the amounts vary from day to day, month to month, and year to year.
      Please see my above comment about that propaganda.
      Richard

      • Please Richard,
        It is clear for most readers that the authors know that 40% of human emissions in mass remain in the atmosphere, not the original emissions. That figure is the average over a longer period and indeed varies between 10% and 90% of human emissions from year to year. So what? That is natural variability and remarkably small, less than half the human contribution of today. Far more important is that in all years of the past 55 years the increase was less than human emissions, thus there was zero contribution from natural sources to the increase, nature was a continuous sink…

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:
        Please Ferdinand, address the propaganda in the paper and don’t pretend that its authors don’t know their propaganda is misleading.
        Richard

  29. I am not a scientist, just an accountant who enjoys reading posts here.
    Following the alarmist view, man is responsible for 100% of the increase in CO2 since our emissions exceed the increase. Taking this “logic” in another direction is it not true that without our emissions we would have experienced a decline in CO2?
    Per the alarmist assertion:
    CO2 1850 280 PPM
    CO2 2015 400 PPM
    Change +120 PPM (50% of anthropogenic emissions the rest being naturally absorbed)
    So if no anthropogenic emissions:
    CO2 1850 280 PPM
    Excess Natural Absorption -120 PPM
    CO2 2015 140 PPM
    The impact of the CO2 increase on climate so far has been, well, nearly nothing. With no anthropogenic emissions all plant life would have ceased and would we not all be dead?

    • Gregory,
      Not only alarmists are sure that human CO2 is responsible for the increase in the atmosphere. Several known skeptics are convinced too…
      About your question: the 280 ppmv in 1850 was the (dynamic) equilibrium between the oceans and the atmosphere. Humans have added a lot of CO2, about twice of what is found as increase in the atmosphere.
      What nature absorbs today is caused by the extra CO2 pressure in the atmosphere: about 2.15 ppmv extra absorbed from the 110 ppmv extra pressure in the atmosphere.
      If we should stop all emissions today, the CO2 levels would return to about 290 ppmv (due to warmer oceans than in 1850), at a start rate of 2.15 ppmv the first year, slightly less the second year (as the extra CO2 pressure is already a little reduced) and 1,08 ppmv/year if we reach 55 ppmv above equilibrium, etc…
      The half time rate of this reduction is about 40 years: after 40 years the excess still is 55 ppmv, after 80 years 27.5 ppmv, etc…

      • “human CO2 is responsible for the increase in the atmosphere.”
        GOOD ! 🙂
        That means we can keep the atmospheric level up..
        …. towards 700ppm would be a good start.

    • Gregory Lawn:
      Yes, as you point out, the ‘mass balance argument’ is nonsense.
      And the nonsense is demonstrated by Ferdinand’s answer to you.
      He only provides three logical fallacies; viz.
      Appeal to Authority,
      Appeal to Popular Opinion,
      Argument by Assertion.
      A valid argument does not need support of logical fallacies.
      The OCO-2 data is accumulating and seems to be refuting the ‘mass balance argument’ nonsense.
      The human emissions of carbon dioxide may be or may not be responsible in part or in whole for the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the nonsensical ‘mass balance argument’ adds nothing of value to understanding of the issue.
      Richard

      • Richard,
        Have you ever heard of a linear response to a disturbance (also called “Le Châtelier’s principle)? If a process in (dynamic) equilibrium is disturbed, it reacts by trying to counteract the disturbance. For a simple first order process, the response is linear: a doubling of the disturbance (CO2 pressure above equilibrium) gives a doubling of the reaction (the extra sink rate).
        I don’t need any help to defend my opinion, but as someone says that only alarmists suppose that the extra CO2 is human, that is certainly not true. Lindzen, Singer, even lately Spencer assume the same…

      • Ferdinand:
        Of course I have heard of Le Châtelier’s principle. It emphasises the stupidity of the daft ‘mass balance argument’.
        Richard

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:
        Gregory Lawn pointed out that the ‘mass balance argument’ refutes itself.
        You replied to support the daft ‘mass balance argument’.
        I pointed out that your only arguments in support of the daft ‘mass balance argument’ are three logical fallacies.
        You asked me if I had I have heard of Le Châtelier’s principle and I replied by pointing out that it also refutes the daft ‘mass balance argument.
        You have the gall to then ask me if I have “run out of real arguments”.
        NO, Ferdinand, you do not have a “real argument”, and that is why you have only presented three logical fallacies in support of the ridiculous ‘mass balance argument’.

        Richard

      • Mr Courtney says: “Gregory Lawn pointed out that the ‘mass balance argument’ refutes itself.”

        However Mr Courtney fails to see the error in Mr. Lawns arguement.
        ..
        Mr Lawn says: “So if no anthropogenic emissions:
        CO2 1850 280 PPM
        Excess Natural Absorption -120 PPM”


        The statement that “Excess Natural Absorption is 120 PPM” is incorrect. There would be no “excess” if there was no “surplus”

      • Joel D. Jackson:
        No the error is yours and not any of Mr Lawn.
        Being an accountant, Mr Lawn is capable of subtraction as well as addition. Clearly, you are not.
        Richard

      • Wow Mr. Courtney…..you don’t seem to understand. Let me explain it in simple terms so it doesn’t go over your head.

        The “Excess Natural Adsorption of 120 PPM was caused by an increase in CO2. If the concentration of CO2 did not increase, there would not have been an adsorption of 120 PPM. You cannot subtract something that does not occur absent the increase (from whatever caused the increase. )

      • Joel D. Jackson:
        NO! As usual you clearly do not understand what you are waffling about.
        The point made by Gregory Lawn is right.
        You are assuming that the only change is the human emission .
        Gregory Lawn assumes nothing and merely accounts the inputs and outputs.
        If it is claimed that the ‘mass balance argument’ has merit Gregory Lawn is right.
        All sensible people recognise that – as Gregory Lawn points out – if no assumption is made then the ‘mass balance argument’ provides a ridiculous indication and, therefore, its use only indicates that the assumption has been adopted so indicates nothing of value.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        Henry’s law (and the buffer factor in seawater) give that for a fixed temperature there is a dynamic equilibrium (steady state) between CO2 in the oceans and CO2 in the atmosphere (that means that as much CO2 enters the oceans as is released). Any increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (whatever the cause) above that equilibrium will push more CO2 in the atmosphere in ratio with the difference in partial pressure between ocean surface and atmosphere. If there is no difference, there is no extra uptake.
        That is where Gregory goes wrong: he assumes that the uptake in CO2 remains the same without human emissions (or whatever else caused the increase), regardless of the pressure difference with the equilibrium.
        If you don’t understand that, then you don’t know what Le Châtelier’s principle means…

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:
        You are changing the subject.
        As Gregory Lawn pointed out, the ‘mass balance argument’ is nonsense because it adopts an assumption and attempts to use that assumption to prove itself.
        If, as Gregory Lawn pointed out, the inputs and outputs are assessed without adopting any assumption then it provides a ridiculous indication. You are assuming the natural system ONLY changes in response to the human emission. You could assume the natural system has changed in response to something other than the human emission. Adoption of either assumption removes the ridiculous indication.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        You say that you understand Le Châtelier’s principle, but in your last reply it is clear that you don’t know (or pretend to not know) where you are talking about.
        If there is no disturbance of a steady state (dynamic equilibrium), there is no reason for the process to react. If there is a disturbance, like human emissions, the process will react, and for a simple first order linear process the reaction will be proportional to the disturbance.
        The error that Gregory made is to assume that the response of the systems remains the same, regardless of the height of the disturbance. That is forgivable for an accountant who has no experience in equilibrium processes, but that is unforgivable for you, who should know better.

      • Ferdinand:
        I understand Le Châtelier’s principle and Gregory made no error.
        You are claiming the nonsensical ‘mass balance argument’ has merit while attempting to use Le Châtelier’s principle as an excuse for the ‘mass balance argument’ providing nonsense arguments. But that excuse emphasises how nonsensical the ‘mass balance argument’ is: not only do you assume the system is only changing as a result of the human emission, you are claiming the system responds to counteract the human emission while assuming the system is not altering in response to all the other innumerable variations!
        You are content in your mistaken belief that the human emissions are overloading the carbon cycle system to cause the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. And you make excuses for the failings of the world to behave according to your faith.
        I don’t know if the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a natural or a human cause in whole or in part. And I make no excuses for my ignorance. But I do know the evidence refutes your belief that the human emissions are overloading the carbon cycle system.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        Again, for any process in steady state, it doesn’t matter what the cause of the disturbance is. In the case of the current rise in CO2 it is humans. In the far past it may have been volcanoes (Deccan traps…). In this case we have a clear cause and a clear response: the net sink rate is in direct ratio to the increase in the atmosphere (human cause or not) over the full 55 years of exact measurements. As the sum of human emissions and the increase in the atmosphere also are showing an extreme good correlation over time, there is little doubt over the cause.
        From the past and present we know that the steady state of the carbon cycle changes with temperature. Over glacial-interglacial cycles up to 16 ppmv/K global temperature, ~8 ppmv/K for the MWP-LIA transition and 4-5 ppmv/K for seasonal and year-by-year variability.
        Again there is a quite good correlation between pre-industrial CO2 level and temperature (proxy). Which shows no extreme outliers from any other variable than temperature. Of course within the constraints of resolution of the ice cores. But the resolution is good enough to show the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 160 years as an outlier over the past 800,000 years, be it with a lower amplitude.
        Meanwhile the increase in the atmosphere is already 110 ppmv above the steady state for the current temperature. Humans have added over 200 ppmv in the same period.
        You may know of some alternative explanation that shows the same growth in the same time span that also explains the human contribution away, but I haven’t seen one that fits all observations…

  30. It seems to me that what needs to be studied is how over irrigating washes the salt away. If one is irrigating from the same source each time, seems to me such a practice could make things worse, but surely wouldn’t eliminate or diminish the salt. Can someone explain this to me?

  31. How long till some idiot suggests that this “acidic” water is going to dissolve the deserts?

  32. At least we will know where to get more CO2 for the atmosphere if we are ever stupid enough to let it drop down below 350ppm again. !

  33. Hmmm. 1 Trillion tons of carbon stored under the desert sands.
    How long does it take to change that stored carbon into oil?
    I’ve wondered why Saudi Arabia an other desert nations have tons (!) of oil under the sand. Could this be part of the reason?

  34. Ferdinand,
    Thank you for your response.
    I would guess there are scientists on both sides of this argument that question the human contribution as well. I don’t regard that as determinative. The scientists you mention also doubt the climate models temperature sensitivity to CO2, but I doubt you would agree it is much less than indicated in the models.
    You submit that for every 2 molecules of CO2 added to the atmosphere that 1 will be absorbed due to the increased pressure of the two molecules. That appears somewhat overstated to me. When one molecule is absorbed by the ocean would that not reduce the pressure? In the aggregate would that not result in out gassing of CO2 from the ocean thereby reducing the absorption ratio? Are there any studies that support this theory?
    Also, how do we know the oceans are warmer now than in 1850? What measurements do we have from that year/period? Where those measurements taken using the same methods as today? How sure are we of ocean temperatures today? How many sq. miles of ocean are covered by each measuring device?
    I do not want to seem argumentative, but I am curious, I am an accountant, not a scientist. But I know how difficult it can be to measure one attribute of a finite population of sales invoices. Extrapolating this to an attribute of the world’s oceans is mind boggling to me.

    • Gregory Lawn:
      You are being perceptive when you write

      I do not want to seem argumentative, but I am curious, I am an accountant, not a scientist. But I know how difficult it can be to measure one attribute of a finite population of sales invoices. Extrapolating this to an attribute of the world’s oceans is mind boggling to me.

      Please remember that the ‘mass balance argument’ is presented to support of assertion of a human cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2. As you have recognised, the claim is a circular argument.
      As I said to you above, the human emissions of carbon dioxide may be or may not be responsible in part or in whole for the recent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the nonsensical ‘mass balance argument’ adds nothing of value to understanding of the issue.
      I now add that the ‘mass balance argument’ is a distraction from serious investigation of the whether the human emissions of carbon dioxide are or are not a significant cause of the recent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
      Richard

      • Mr Courtney, you write: “serious investigation of the whether the human emissions of carbon dioxide are or are not a significant cause ”

        Can you list all of the alternative explanations of the recent rise of CO2 in the atmosphere? Can you explain the rise in light of the fact that we see no equivalent rise in the past 800,000 year ice core record?

      • Joel D. Jackson:
        You ask me

        Can you list all of the alternative explanations of the recent rise of CO2 in the atmosphere? Can you explain the rise in light of the fact that we see no equivalent rise in the past 800,000 year ice core record?

        You are changing the subject (which is your usual practice when shown to be wrong).
        Taking your second question first: the ice core data do not have adequate temporal resolution to show fluctuations similar to that of the present. The last time you raised that ‘red herring’ I pointed out that the ‘stomata data’ do show similar CO2 rises in the time since the last ice age, but it turned out that you did not know of the ‘stomata data’ (and your question suggests you have forgotten it).
        Your first question is silly. Of course I cannot list all the large number of possible explanations of the recent rise of CO2 in the atmosphere: indeed, it is probable that nobody has yet thought of them all.
        For now, I refer you to one of our 1995 papers:
        ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005)
        In that paper we provide six different models of the cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration measured at Mauna Loa since 1958. Three of the models assume a significant anthropogenic contribution to the rise and three of the models assume purely ‘natural’ (i.e. not anthropogenic) causes for the rise.
        Each of the models in our paper matches the available empirical data without use of any ‘fiddle-factor’ such as the ‘5-year smoothing’ the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses to get its model to agree with the empirical data.
        So, if one of the six models of our paper is adopted then there is a 5:1 probability that the choice is wrong. And other models are probably also possible. And the six models each give a different indication of future atmospheric CO2 concentration for the same future anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide.

        Data that fits all the possible causes is not evidence for the true cause.

        Richard

      • Richard,
        What you forget to tell is in how far the six models fit all observations like mass balance (yes even that), 13C/12C ratio, residence time, bomb 14C decline, oxygen balance, etc…
        What is known is that human emissions fit ALL observations…

      • Ferdiand:
        Please don’t be disingenuous. You say to me

        Richard,
        What you forget to tell is in how far the six models fit all observations like mass balance (yes even that), 13C/12C ratio, residence time, bomb 14C decline, oxygen balance, etc…
        What is known is that human emissions fit ALL observations…

        I “forget” to tell” nothing.
        ALL the possible causes of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration fit the existing data.
        They each agree with the useless ‘mass balance argument’ depending on the assumption adopted to use it. Indeed, that is why the ‘mass balance argument’ is circular and, therefore, is useless.
        The direct indication of the isotope data is that human emissions are NOT causing the rise. However, the data can be adjusted by consideration of assumed dilution. Therefore, the most that can be said of the isotope data is that it suggests the human emissions of CO2 are NOT the cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration but this suggestion may be misleading.
        etc.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        Even if confronted with the data, you try to escape like the devil in a holy-water font (Dutch expression…).
        The direct indication of the isotope data is that human emissions are NOT causing the rise.
        So what then caused the decline of the δ13C in the atmosphere and the oceans surface alike?
        Not vegetation, as that is a net sink for CO2.
        Not the oceans, as the continuous CO2 exchange between tropical and polar oceans is simply passing by and only dilutes the human “fingerprint”. If that part of the cycle would be additional, then the increase would be 49 GtC/year (~25 ppmv/year), not 4.5 GtC/year…
        And do the other alternatives fit the 13C/12C ratio, the 14C bomb decline, the oxygen balance,…?

    • Gregory,
      How much CO2 is taken away by the oceans (and vegetation) is a matter of pressure: higher CO2 pressure in the atmosphere gives more uptake, which amount is governed by two laws: Henry’s law for the solubility of any gas in any liquid and the Revelle/buffer factor specific for seawater, as seawater gives a chain of reaction which convert CO2 into bicarbonates and carbonates.
      The increase in pressure thus is only half the human emissions, but still an increase and more and more CO2 enters the oceans (and plants). The overall balance is simple: what humans emitted is reasonably known, the increase in the atmosphere is accurately known, the difference must be gone somewhere. The ocean surface is measured on different places and represent most of the oceans (even one place like Bermuda can represent the changes in the whole Nord Atlantic Gyre) and the whole biosphere can be measured via the oxygen balance: more CO2 uptake gives more O2, more plant decay uses more O2…
      The increase in temperature of the ocean surface is far from sure until satellites did measure the whole earth. But even so, to give the same CO2 increase as measured, that would need a temperature increase of some 12°C increase of the ocean surface temperature in 165 years, which simply is impossible…

  35. RichardsCourtney:
    Thank you for responding.
    You have identified my misgivings about the “mass balance” argument. The argument may be rational if output and input of CO2 in the “natural system” we’re always in balance. My admittedly limited understanding suggests they are not. The 600 k years look back period most often used is very short in geological terms. 270 million years ago CO2 was more than 3,000ppm, still a short period in terms of earth history. The “natural system” has been out of balance for most of earth history without human intervention and I look at the last 600k years as an anomaly, not the norm. Am I incorrect?
    Are human outputs just a small part of a much larger process where by coincidence our outputs occurred at a time when natural causes have favored an increase in CO2 or are we really the cause. At this point I would agree that we just do not know.

    • Gregory Lawn:
      I agree with you and I write to answer your question when you say to me

      The 600 k years look back period most often used is very short in geological terms. 270 million years ago CO2 was more than 3,000ppm, still a short period in terms of earth history. The “natural system” has been out of balance for most of earth history without human intervention and I look at the last 600k years as an anomaly, not the norm. Am I incorrect?
      Are human outputs just a small part of a much larger process where by coincidence our outputs occurred at a time when natural causes have favored an increase in CO2 or are we really the cause. At this point I would agree that we just do not know.

      Yes, “At this point I would agree that we just do not know”. Please see my reply to Joel D. Jackson which explains why I agree. And I stress that my referring you to a reply I gave to him does NOT imply any similarity between you and him so is NOT an insult to you.
      You ask two points; viz.
      “The “natural system” has been out of balance for most of earth history without human intervention and I look at the last 600k years as an anomaly, not the norm.”
      I know of no time when the natural system has been in balance.
      I don’t think the last 600k years has been “in balance” so I don’t see it as an anomaly. Indeed, the imbalance of the Medieval Warm Period was an embarrassment to promoters of AGW which induced the untrue ‘hockey stick’ graph.
      Richard

    • Gregory,
      Different times show different CO2 levels for different temperatures. You can’t compare the situation of 270 million years ago with the situation in the past few million years. For the past 800,000 years, there was a rather fixed ratio between CO2 and temperature of about 8 ppmv/K. That is visible in all ice cores over glacial and interglacial periods. Also between MWP and LIA. Your “coincidence” didn’t happen over the past 800,000 years, only since humans started to use fossil fuels…

  36. “About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.”
    Interesting thing to claim when in recent decades human released co2 has risen sharply yet atmospheric co2 levels are rising no faster today then at the start of the modern record.

  37. Richard:
    I infer from your response to Joel Jackson that the ice core data are not supported by proxy data from plant stomata.
    I have also read (I apologize for not having the citation at hand) that water present in the ice sheets can absorb CO2 and mix it between layers thus causing lower concentrations of CO2 in the ice and reducing variability between layers. Does this argument hold water (sorry, pun intended)? I apologize also for what I know is a gross over simplification.
    I am impressed that you would develop hypothesis looking at both sides of this argument, some day you may prove Ferdinand is right, but probably not with the current set of facts. I am relieved our justice system does not function as Joel implies, to make an analogy; if you cannot prove you are innocent you must be guilty.
    My impression of the “mass balance” theory, at this point in time, is it cannot be substantiated by facts (or lack thereof).
    Greg

    • Gregory,
      Richard never will supply any fact that may support that humans are responsible for the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere in the past 165 years. To the contrary: he simply invents new (mainly theoretical) arguments that are intended to undermine any human influence. No matter that these “alternatives” violate one or more observations.
      Take e.g. stomata data vs. ice core data. stomata data are a rough proxy, which is influenced by local CO2 levels in the growing season prior to the year the plant leaves are growing. By definition, plants grow on land where CO2 is somewhat biased compared to “background” CO2. They are calibrated against ice cores and direct measurements over the previous century. The main problem, besides the accuracy (+/- 10 ppmv at best), is that nobody knows how much the local bias changed over the centuries due to land use changes, climate, main wind direction, etc…
      Ice core data are direct measurements in ancient air, repeatability of 1.2 ppmv (1 sigma) for the same part of an ice core, within 5 ppmv in different cores for the same average gas age. The main problem: what is measured is the average of several to many (10-600) years, depending of the local snow accumulation rate. The resolution is best (10 years) over the past 150 years, far worse (560 years) for the 800,000 years Dome C core.
      Anyway, if there is a discrepancy between ice core data and stomata data averaged over the period of resolution of an ice core then it is certain that the stomata data are wrong. Even if there is migration (which is theoretically possible) in relative “warm” (coastal) ice cores, that does influence the resolution, but not the average over the period of resolution.
      Further, CO2 measurements are done by grating the cold ice under vacuum, any CO2 + present water would be removed and water frozen in a cold trap. A step further is the sublimation technique which sublimates everything followed by a cryogenic trap and cryogenic separation. No CO2 can escape…
      See: http://courses.washington.edu/proxies/GHG.pdf
      Most of the arguments against CO2 in ice cores are from the late Dr. Jaworowski, who was a specialist of radio nucleotides, including in ice cores, but had – to my knowledge – no experience in CO2 measurements. That was written down in 1992. In 1998, he received a point by point refusal of his arguments by the work of Etheridge e.a., who worked on three ice cores at Law Dome, with different drilling techniques (wet and dry), measuring CO2 top down in firn, etc… See:
      http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/lawdome.html

    • Gregory Lawn:
      You ask me

      I have also read (I apologize for not having the citation at hand) that water present in the ice sheets can absorb CO2 and mix it between layers thus causing lower concentrations of CO2 in the ice and reducing variability between layers.

      Yes, the surfaces of water ice and water crystals are coated with a layer of liquid water a few molecules thick. It is this layer which makes ice slippery and it was first discovered by Michael Faraday.
      Importantly, the solid ice is formed from snow that settles on its top. The snow takes decades (the IPCC says 83 years) to solidify and the porous material is called firn. Air is pumped in and out of this firn by weather (i.e. changes in air pressure). Hence at any level the air in the ice is a mixture of air from several decades. The result is a CO2 concentration similar to CO2 concentration data from individual years being subjected to averaging over several decades. Hence, ancient ice core data cannot indicate fluctuations similar to that seen in the Mauna Loa data obtained since 1958.
      I refer you to this WUWT article which compares ice core and stomata data. As David Middleton says in that article

      Plant stomata suggest that the pre-industrial CO2 levels were commonly in the 360 to 390ppmv range.

      Please note that both ice core data and stomata data are proxies and each is useful but neither should be uncritically accepted at face value.
      Also, whilst writing I refute this nonsense from Ferdinand

      Richard never will supply any fact that may support that humans are responsible for the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere in the past 165 years. To the contrary: he simply invents new (mainly theoretical) arguments that are intended to undermine any human influence. No matter that these “alternatives” violate one or more observations.

      I don’t “support” facts: I assess them.
      And I don’t “invent” arguments that are “intended to undermine” anything: I investigate possibilities.
      The only one of such possibilities which I know is contradicted by available evidence is the claim that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is caused by the anthropogenic CO2 emission overloading the natural sinks for CO2. That idea being wrong does not – of itself – prove the anthropogenic emission is not the cause of the recent rise; it may be the cause. But Ferdinand fervently believes in that wrong idea. And it is his belief which induces him to write misleading nonsense such as

      Ice core data are direct measurements in ancient air,

      The measurements are of the air in the ice core but that air does not have the composition it did in the ancient atmosphere for a variety of reasons (one of which I have mentioned in this post).
      And Ferdinand insults people whose work refutes his belief. He provides an example of this in his post where he provides gratuitous insults to the late Zeb Jaworowski who was a better scientist than Ferdinand could dream of becoming.
      Richard

      • Richard,
        There is no water on ice below -32°C. Vostok and Dome C, inland cores are at -40°C. No water, except for dust inclusions.
        The water-like layer is a few molecules thick at the ice-air border, not much place to hide CO2 and even that layer is removed under vacuum at measurement time.
        Hence at any level the air in the ice is a mixture of air from several decades.
        Depends of the accumulation rate. Two of the Law Dome cores have a resolution of 8 years, Vostok of 600 years. Even so, the average CO2 age (where the median of the gas/year distribution is) can be compared to averaged years of other ice cores and individual years of direct measurements in the atmosphere.
        Hence, ancient ice core data cannot indicate fluctuations similar to that seen in the Mauna Loa data obtained since 1958.
        Ice cores don’t show the seasonal fluctuations of Mauna Loa, neither does the South Pole data. But ice core data and South Pole data show an overlap of ~20 years (1960-2000):
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_sp_co2.jpg
        As David Middleton says in that article
        Highly contested by me and others in the follow-up discussion: stomata data are unreliable for absolute values if the average differs from the average in ice cores over the period of resolution, which is the case for the “high” CO2 values in discussion. Any (theoretical) migration changed the resolution, but doesn’t change the average over the period of resolution in the ice core.
        Please note that both ice core data and stomata data are proxies
        Again… ice core CO2 data are not “proxies”, they are direct CO2 measurements from a mix of several years to several centuries of ancient air. A definition of a proxy from Wiki is:
        “This can be done by proxy methods, in which a variable which correlates with the variable of interest is measured”.
        Stomata data are proxies for CO2
        Ice core CO2 data are direct CO2 measurements.
        If you take 365/366 daily air samples in flasks and mix them all after a year and measure the CO2 level in the mix, you (should) have the same CO2 level as by measuring 365/366 individual samples and averaging the results…

  38. Ferdinand:
    You state: “Richard never will supply any fact that may support that humans are responsible for the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere in the past 165 years. To the contrary: he simply invents new (mainly theoretical) arguments that are intended to undermine any human influence. No matter that these “alternatives” violate one or more observations.”
    A unnecessary introduction to an otherwise intelligent response. (1) You cannot possibly know what Richard may or may not do at any time in the future. (2) I thought “inventing” new theory was at the very heart of science, should Copernicus not have challenged the geocentric model of Ptolemy? (3) What of the climate models gaping violation of actual observations since 1998? If that ends the argument then this topic is entirely irrelevant.
    I would like to see the calculations in support of all the significant inputs and outputs, including anthropogenic, for the climate system. Have we even identified those, have they been reasonably quantified, do we understand the variables? Can we model those? Do they fit what we believe to be historical record? Can we go back more than 600K years, a short time in the geological record?
    The so called “mass balance theory” I will admit sounds appealing. But it is a theory that turns on itself for proof. If accepted what of my little amateur exercise above? Have human emissions saved life on the planet? If randy is correct above then there must other sources for the increase in CO2 or it would have declined without anthropogenic additions. Looking back to longer term history 270 million+ years there were huge increases and decreases in CO2 and it was at much higher concentrations than now, all without humans. Have those processes from the past just suddenly stopped?
    I respect your assertions and do not deny them. However, I remain skeptical.

    • Gregory,
      I have had many years of discussion with Richard. I extremely seldom judge anybody on his behavior, if you look at the many answers I used to give to anyone here at WUWT and elsewhere. Richard is an exception, as he always says that he is open for any explanation, but in reality always seeks excuses to avoid any admission that humans may be responsible for the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere… Maybe he will change in the future, but one’s character doesn’t change lightly…
      The main problem with the origin of the current increase in CO2 is that the evidence is extremely solid that humans are the cause, as that fits all observations, not only the mass balance. See:
      http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_origin.html
      Of course you can come with new theories, but to prove that humans are not the cause of the current increase needs very solid evidence and also must fit all observations. The latter is the problem with all these alternative explanations: they all violate one or more observations and thus should be discarded. Bart’s alternative even violates all known observations… That seems quite difficult for many here: if you have a nice theory, to admit that it is killed by some observation…
      That is about the only point where I agree with the “warmistas”. For the rest I am equally sure that climate models are not worth their money: they don’t reflect reality and should be discarded as useless, back to the blackboard. I am pretty sure that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and will have some influence, but in my personal opinion more like 1°C for 2xCO2, quite beneficial for plants and without disastrous consequences.
      Real scientists (not the interpretators) have done a lot of work to chart the carbon cycle, where the bulk of the movements are roughly known, but a lot of individual fluxes and their variability are not known in detail.
      Here for the biosphere as a whole:
      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/287/5462/2467.short
      and
      http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
      Here for the oceans:
      http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/background.shtml
      and for specific stations:
      http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/27-1_bates.pdf
      If you compare the CO2 levels in large parts of the earth’s history these were much higher. But most of that CO2 now is buried as carbonate rock in thick layers all over the world: thanks to coccolithophores: little plankton which have a shell of carbonate living today and in ancient oceans. That doesn’t return lightly in the atmosphere.
      What mainly made the CO2 levels in the atmosphere over recent times are the oceans: the ocean surface temperature governed the CO2 levels in the atmosphere at least over the past few million years (2 million years according to sediments). That is an equilibrium between oceans, ice sheets and vegetation growth and wane. The net result is surprisingly linear: 8 ppmv/K, ~180 ppmv during glacial periods (that is a minimum for many plants to survive!), 280-300 ppmv during interglacials. Until some 1.5 century ago when humans started the industrial revolution…
      Thus even without human emissions the current CO2 level for the current temperature would be around 290 ppmv, not further down, as the oceans would supply the difference, as good as they try to remove the excess we have now. But as the exchange rate between atmosphere and deep oceans is rather slow, human emissions still exceed the removal rate of nature…

    • Gregory,
      You ask

      I would like to see the calculations in support of all the significant inputs and outputs, including anthropogenic, for the climate system. Have we even identified those, have they been reasonably quantified, do we understand the variables? Can we model those? Do they fit what we believe to be historical record? Can we go back more than 600K years, a short time in the geological record?

      There are no such “calculations” of any consequence because there is insufficient data for the processes to be quantified.
      And, incidentally, it is my refusal to accept Ferdinand’s guesswork based on his biased assumptions which induces him to write this nonsense

      I have had many years of discussion with Richard. I extremely seldom judge anybody on his behavior, if you look at the many answers I used to give to anyone here at WUWT and elsewhere. Richard is an exception, as he always says that he is open for any explanation, but in reality always seeks excuses to avoid any admission that humans may be responsible for the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere… Maybe he will change in the future, but one’s character doesn’t change lightly…

      In one limited sense that is right: until my last breath I will attempt to not “change” because I will always question everything from everyone, and I will not accept nonsense as being true merely because Ferdinand asserts it.
      Please note that Ferdinand has provided no argument and no evidence in this discussion but has presented these logical fallacies.
      Argument from ignorance.
      Argument by Assertion.
      Appeal to Authority.
      Appeal to Popularity.
      Ad hominem irrelevancies.
      If he had a case worth putting then he would provide it instead of logical fallacies.
      The IPCC reports provide simplified descriptions of the carbon cycle. In our paper, Rörsch et al. (2005), we considered the most important processes in the carbon cycle to be:
      Short-term processes
      1. Consumption of CO2 by photosynthesis that takes place in green plants on land. CO2 from the air and water from the soil are coupled to form carbohydrates. Oxygen is liberated. This process takes place mostly in spring and summer. A rough distinction can be made:
      1a. The formation of leaves that are short lived (less than a year).
      1b. The formation of tree branches and trunks, that are long lived (decades).
      2. Production of CO2 by the metabolism of animals, and by the decomposition of vegetable matter by micro-organisms including those in the intestines of animals, whereby oxygen is consumed and water and CO2 (and some carbon monoxide and methane that will eventually be oxidised to CO2) are liberated. Again distinctions can be made:
      2a. The decomposition of leaves, that takes place in autumn and continues well into the next winter, spring and summer.
      2b. The decomposition of branches, trunks, etc. that typically has a delay of some decades after their formation.
      2c. The metabolism of animals that goes on throughout the year.
      3. Consumption of CO2 by absorption in cold ocean waters. Part of this is consumed by marine vegetation through photosynthesis.
      4. Production of CO2 by desorption from warm ocean waters. Part of this may be the result of decomposition of organic debris.
      5. Circulation of ocean waters from warm to cold zones, and vice versa, thus promoting processes 3 and 4.
      Longer-term process
      6. Formation of peat from dead leaves and branches (eventually leading to lignite and coal).
      7. Erosion of silicate rocks, whereby carbonates are formed and silica is liberated.
      8. Precipitation of calcium carbonate in the ocean, that sinks to the bottom, together with formation of corals and shells.
      Natural processes that add CO2 to the system:
      9. Production of CO2 from volcanoes (by eruption and gas leakage).
      10. Natural forest fires, coal seam fires and peat fires.
      Anthropogenic processes that add CO2 to the system:
      11. Production of CO2 by burning of vegetation (“biomass”).
      12. Production of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels (and by lime kilns).
      Several of these processes are rate dependent and several of them interact.
      At higher air temperatures, the rates of processes 1, 2, 4 and 5 will increase and the rate of process 3 will decrease. Process 1 is strongly dependent on temperature, so its rate will vary strongly (maybe by a factor of 10) throughout the changing seasons.
      The rates of processes 1, 3 and 4 are dependent on the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The rates of processes 1 and 3 will increase with higher CO2 concentration, but the rate of process 4 will decrease.
      The rate of process 1 has a complicated dependence on the atmospheric CO2 concentration. At higher concentrations at first there will be an increase that will probably be less than linear (with an “order” <1). But after some time, when more vegetation (more biomass) has been formed, the capacity for photosynthesis will have increased, resulting in a progressive increase of the consumption rate.
      Processes 1 to 5 are obviously coupled by mass balances. Our paper assessed the steady-state situation to be an oversimplification because there are two factors that will never be “steady”:
      I. The removal of CO2 from the system, or its addition to the system.
      II. External factors that are not constant and may influence the process rates, such as varying solar activity.
      Modeling this system is a difficult because so little is known concerning the rate equations. However, some things can be stated from the empirical data.
      At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year. The natural fluctuation of the excess consumption (i.e. consumption processes 1 and 3 minus production processes 2 and 4) is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural processes here listed 1-5 can cope easily with the human production of CO2. A serious disruption of the system may be expected when the rate of increase of the anthropogenic emissions becomes larger than the natural variations of CO2. But the above data indicates this is not possible.
      The accumulation rate of CO2 in the atmosphere (1.5 ppmv/year which corresponds to 3 GtC/year) is equal to almost half the human emission (6.5 GtC/year). However, this does not mean that half the human emission accumulates in the atmosphere, as is often stated. There are several other and much larger CO2 flows in and out of the atmosphere. The total CO2 flow into the atmosphere is at least 156.5 GtC/year with 150 GtC/year of this being from natural origin and 6.5 GtC/year from human origin. So, on the average, 3/156.5 = 2% of all emissions accumulate.
      The above qualitative considerations suggest the carbon cycle cannot be very sensitive to relatively small disturbances such as the present anthropogenic emissions of CO2. However, the system could be quite sensitive to temperature. So, our paper considered how the carbon cycle would be disturbed if – for some reason – the temperature of the atmosphere were to rise, as it almost certainly did between 1880 and 1940 (there was an estimated average rise of 0.5 °C in average surface temperature).
      But the effect of temperature on atmospheric CO2 emission would be very different in an Ice Age because all the processes 1 to 7 and processes 8 and 10 would be different. There is no data which indicates seasonal variation in the last Ice Age and, therefore, the relationship of temperature and CO2 cannot be determined for that climate state.
      Richard

      • It just goes to show how critical the information from the new CO2 sensing satellite is going to be.
        Yes, and it is more and more clear with every passing day the importance the scientists and our governments give to that information. Look how easy is access to the data. Look at the robust debate ongoing in multiple forums worldwide from the highest peers of the litchurchur to Joe Sixpack at the Anglers Rest Bar and Grill. It is heartwarming how this critical information is being absorbed, analysed, and communicated by all the forces of social comity extant now in the world.
        Who could ask for anything more?
        ==================

      • kim:
        You say

        It just goes to show how critical the information from the new CO2 sensing satellite is going to be.

        Yes. But, as I said in another thread, the issue is not the raw data because – as you satirically comment – using special software the raw OCO-2 data can be downloaded from here.
        The issue is that only the first month of the data was provided as this plot which shows there is no correspondence between ‘high’ levels of atmospheric CO2 and sites of emissions of CO2 from human activities. But that plot was only for one month.
        If the lack of correspondence exists throughout a year then that would disprove the claims of the rising atmospheric CO2 being caused by human emissions of CO2 overloading the natural sinks of CO2.
        The software to provide the plots exists; at very least, it existed when the first month of data was released. This poses the question as to why the use of that software was discontinued immediately when it was noticed that the plot of the first month of data seemed to provide an inconvenient indication.

        An annual plot would provide definitive evidence before the COP in Paris in December, and I predicted that such a plot would not then be provided.

        Richard

      • OK, some real information instead of pure theoretical stories…
        Processes 1-4 in the above story of Richard are called “seasonal variation” and is dominated by NH vegetation, as can be seen in the opposite CO2 and δ13C variability over the seasons. That is a combination of fast processes in the ocean surface and the growth and wane of extra-tropical forests in spring/summer and fall/winter. Of course temperature driven with a global net result of ~5 ppmv/K.
        The net result from about 60 GtC in and out vegetation and 50 GtC in and out the ocean surface is about 2 ppmv/year increase in the atmosphere (no matter the cause). There is little change in the seasonal amplitude, only a slight increase over time and a slight increase in the residual (from 1 GtC/year in 1959 to 4.5 GtC/year in 2012). Here the seasonal variation in the period 1990-2012 for CO2 and δ13C, regular δ13C measurements started later than CO2 measurements:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/seasonal_CO2_d13C_MLO_BRW.jpg
        The seasonal amplitude has not the slightest interest for what causes the net result at the end of the year, the residual may be caused by the same process (temperature) that drives the seasonal cycle or may be something completely independent. Thus saying that
        which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural processes here listed 1-5 can cope easily with the human production of CO2
        is like saying that the tides can easily cope with the sea level increase, while both have nothing in common.
        Thus we have to dive deeper into the possible causes.
        Have a look at the longer term variability (graphs supplied here): again vegetation is dominant, as the opposite CO2 and δ13C changes show. Thus vegetation is the dominant factor as well as in seasonal changes as in year-by-year variability.
        Here is the problem for Richard’s theory: vegetation is a long-term (over 2-3 years) sink for CO2, not a source and thus not the cause of the CO2 increase (or the δ13C decline) in the atmosphere. Thus neither the seasonal cycle or the year-by-year variability are responsible for the CO2 increase, to the contrary, the biosphere is a net sink of ~1 GtC/year, the earth is greening.
        Neither are the oceans, as the solubility of CO2 in seawater is 4-17 ppmv/K in the literature according to Henry’s law (which stands as good \for static as for a dynamic equilibrium). That means maximum 10 ppmv of the 110 ppmv rise caused by increased ocean surface temperatures…
        Humans emit ~9 GtC/year, the increase in the atmosphere is ~4.5 GtC/year. Oceans and biosphere are net sinks for CO2 and all other possible sources (volcanoes, rock weathering,…) are either too small or too slow. Moreover human emissions fit all known observations…
        ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        Some other tricks in Richard’s plead:
        At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year.
        compared to
        The natural fluctuation… [] …is at least 6 ppmv… [] …in 4 months.
        Which is creative bookkeeping: he compares the gain in anthro emissions with the regular income and output of the natural carbon cycle instead of comparing the emissions themselves, which are ~9 GtC/year pure addition, compared to a seasonal cycle which has a global amplitude of ~10 GtC (5 ppmv), thus of the same order.
        A serious disruption of the system may be expected when the rate of increase of the anthropogenic emissions becomes larger than the natural variations of CO2
        Which is the case: the year by year variability is maximum +/- 1 ppmv around the trend, the trend itself is over 2 ppmv/year nowadays and human emissions 4.5 ppmv/year.
        The total CO2 flow into the atmosphere is at least 156.5 GtC/year with 150 GtC/year of this being from natural origin and 6.5 GtC/year from human origin. So, on the average, 3/156.5 = 2% of all emissions accumulate.
        Again, creative bookkeeping: Richard “forgets” that there are natural sinks and hardly any human sinks, the sinks being 153 GtC/year gives that the natural cycle is more sink than source and humans are responsible for (near) all the gain…
        the relationship of temperature and CO2 cannot be determined for that climate state
        For that reason we use “proxies” like dD and d18O in ice cores and sediments to compare with global CO2 of the same period. Still even in these periods, Henry’s law for the solubility of CO2 in seawater remains valid for a minimum CO2 level.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:
        I have had enough of your offensive nonsense!
        Gregory Lean asked

        I would like to see the calculations in support of all the significant inputs and outputs, including anthropogenic, for the climate system. Have we even identified those, have they been reasonably quantified, do we understand the variables? Can we model those? Do they fit what we believe to be historical record? Can we go back more than 600K years, a short time in the geological record?

        I explained why there is inadequate data to enable such “calculations”.
        You have not provided any such “calculations” and you have not attempted to list what you think to be “all the significant inputs and outputs, including anthropogenic, for the climate system”.
        My comments were “real information” quoted directly from peer reviewed publication and have never been successfully challenged. Contrary to your fallacious assertion, my list of processes is NOT “pure theoretical stories” as you admit when you write

        Processes 1-4 in the above story of Richard are called “seasonal variation” and is dominated by NH vegetation, as can be seen in the opposite CO2 and δ13C variability over the seasons.

        Indeed, I merely stated what the Processes are as was requested by Gregory Lean. And anyone can compare my “Processes 1-4” to see the “story” is your statement that they cause (n.b. cause and NOT “are”) the “seasonal variation”.
        Importantly, this untrue assertion of yours is completely unacceptable

        Some other tricks in Richard’s plead:

        I provided no “tricks” and I made no pleading as anybody can see.
        I answered the question from Gregory Lean.
        You provided personal abuse and irrelevance.
        Withdraw your untrue and offensive remarks and we can discuss.
        Refuse to withdraw and I will leave your daft comments to obtain their deserved ridicule in readers’ minds without giving you opportunity to correct your several errors.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        I did provide the reason why the processes 1-4 are NOT the cause of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere: the biosphere is the dominant process over seasons up to 2-3 years, but the biosphere is a net sink for CO2 over periods longer than 2-3 years. Thus the seasonal amplitude or the amplitude of the year by year variability are not of the slightest interest as cause of the increase in the atmosphere.
        That explains already ~110 GtC/season in and out of the total carbon cycle as not the cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
        Neither is process 5, as the oceans have a too high 13C/12C ratio and are limited in net CO2 release/uptake to not more than maximum 17 ppmv/K temperature change.
        That explains the remaining 40 GtC continuous exchange between ocean upwelling in the tropics and sinks near the poles as not the cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
        So, what is left? Small contributions like volcanoes (not even visible in any recent record), rock weathering? Both too small to have an effect and no sign of a sudden increase since 1850.
        Oh, we have something like human emissions, which are twice the observed increase and fit all observations…
        —————————
        How do you defend a comparison of an irrelevant gain of 0.1 GtC/year in human emissions with the natural variability within a year? Either you don’t know what you are talking about, or you are deliberately misleading people by comparing two unrelated quantities to make a point. Either compare gain with gain (how much did the seasonal cycle increase over time compared to the increase in human emissions) or compare human emissions with the net seasonal amplitude, don’t mess up by mixing the two.

      • Richard, good faith would be demonstrated if an annual plot from OCO-2 were provided, like, in time for Paris. Bad faith is not quite so clearly demonstrated by failure to so provide.
        The truth will out. One hopes the choice is made wisely.
        ==============

      • kim
        You say to me

        Richard, good faith would be demonstrated if an annual plot from OCO-2 were provided, like, in time for Paris.

        I agree, but I have little hope that the plot will be provided if it indicates that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is not caused by the emissions from human activities.
        Richard

      • My question is: Could the annual data, or decadal data change Ferdinand’s mind? I think the answer could be yes.
        ===============

      • kim
        My question is: Could the annual data, or decadal data change Ferdinand’s mind? I think the answer could be yes.
        Yes, no problem with that, if the data refute my opinion, I’ll change my opinion…
        Not that I expect that the data will refute the human contribution, if the satellite’s resolution is sharp enough to find out where the human emissions are…
        With 0.005 ppmv/day human emissions, even concentrated in 10% of the earth’s surface, that will be a hell of a job in an El Niño year. But the satellite seems to be maneuverable to examine parts of the surface over longer periods.

    • Ferdinand:
      Stop making offensive remarks and – instead – make some attempt to justify your arguments.
      I answered the question from Gregory. You have not.
      My answer is correct in every detail. Your responses to my answer consist of insults, misrepresentations, straw men and nothing else.
      I objected to your disgraceful behaviour and you have replied with falsehoods such as this.

      I did provide the reason why the processes 1-4 are NOT the cause of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere: the biosphere is the dominant process over seasons up to 2-3 years, but the biosphere is a net sink for CO2 over periods longer than 2-3 years. Thus the seasonal amplitude or the amplitude of the year by year variability are not of the slightest interest as cause of the increase in the atmosphere.

      I did not say, did not suggest and did not imply that “processes 1-4 are” “the cause of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere”. Gregory had asked for all the inputs and outputs of CO2 to the atmosphere and I provided a list of inputs and outputs that included processes 1-4. Importantly, the inputs of “processes 1-4 are” provide orders of magnitude more variability to atmospheric CO2 in each year than the anthropogenic emission of each year and that makers them VERY important – so of interest – as part of the answer to Gregory.
      Furthermore, YOU raised the issue of Le Châtelier’s principle and asserted that “processes 1-4” are altering in response to the emissions of CO2 from human activities to make your silly ‘mass balance argument’ add up. So,
      (a) when it suited your purpose you claimed “processes 1-4” are an important part of the reason for your belief in the human emissions causing the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere,
      but
      (b) when I rightly listed “processes 1-4” as inputs and outputs of atmospheric CO2 you have claimed they are “not of the slightest interest as cause of the increase in the atmosphere”.
      If you had a rational argument then you would present it. Your behaviour in attempt to troll the debate demonstrates that you don’t have a rational argument: you only have your mistaken belief and you make untrue attacks on unbelievers.
      Richard

      • Richard,
        Gregory asked for the base of the carbon cycle as used by the IPCC and others. I did provide that:
        Here for the biosphere as a whole:
        http://www.sciencemag.org/content/287/5462/2467.short
        and
        http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
        Here for the oceans:
        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/background.shtml
        and for specific stations:
        http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/27-1_bates.pdf

        Which resulted in schemes like the following one:
        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/
        While you responded with:
        There are no such “calculations” of any consequence because there is insufficient data for the processes to be quantified.
        Just throwing out all the work done by the above scientists without a shred of evidence that these were wrong…
        Your “very important” seasonal cycle is not of the slightest importance at all. Only the result at the end of the year is important. The amplitude of the waves or the tides are not important at all to know the sea level rise, even if one need 25 years of data to have a statistical meaningful result.
        The result at the end of the seasonal cycle is what shows that processes 1-4 are more sink than source and THAT is important for the mass balance…

      • Ferdinand:
        Your intolerable misrepresentations continue.
        Gregory asked

        I would like to see the calculations in support of all the significant inputs and outputs, including anthropogenic, for the climate system. Have we even identified those, have they been reasonably quantified, do we understand the variables? Can we model those? Do they fit what we believe to be historical record? Can we go back more than 600K years, a short time in the geological record?

        You have still not answered that request.
        I answered that request saying

        There are no such “calculations” of any consequence because there is insufficient data for the processes to be quantified.

        THAT ANSWER IS TRUE AND I EXPLAINED IT.
        But you now cite some papers none of which refutes my true and accurate statement and/or my explanation of it, and then you write

        There are no such “calculations” of any consequence because there is insufficient data for the processes to be quantified.

        Just throwing out all the work done by the above scientists without a shred of evidence that these were wrong…

        I “THREW OUT” NOTHING BECAUSE NONE OF THOSE PAPERS REFUTES MY TRUE AND ACCURATE STATEMENT. Indeed, they support it with assertions such as this.

        Over the long term, the carbon cycle seems to maintain a balance that prevents all of Earth’s carbon from entering the atmosphere (as is the case on Venus) or from being stored entirely in rocks. This balance helps keep Earth’s temperature relatively stable, like a thermostat.


        “Seems to maintain a balance” and “like a thermostat” is NOT quantified work. It is pure guesswork with no real evidence provided to support it.
        Ferdinand, your egregious misrepresentations are unacceptable.
        And your assertions are becoming ludicrous. This one is a keeper

        Your “very important” seasonal cycle is not of the slightest importance at all. Only the result at the end of the year is important. The amplitude of the waves or the tides are not important at all to know the sea level rise, even if one need 25 years of data to have a statistical meaningful result.
        The result at the end of the seasonal cycle is what shows that processes 1-4 are more sink than source and THAT is important for the mass balance…

        Your analogy is either more deliberate misrepresentation or ignorance.
        Sea level rise is NOT a residual of waves or tides.
        The change to atmospheric CO2 of a year IS the residual of that year’s seasonal variation. It needs no statistical determination; e.g. see the Mauna Loa data.
        And your claim that only what you want to include should be included in your ‘mass balance’ is an admission that your sums don’t add up unless you ‘cook the books’.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        The main current carbon cycle between the biosphere and the oceans is roughly known from the works I cited. The fine details are not known, but are investigated at a lot of places, including surprises all around.
        That doesn’t show any details about the past, where we only know the end result as can be found in ice cores and the partitioning between vegetation and oceans based on the 13C/12C ratio changes.
        That you don’t like the answer is not my problem, it is entirely your problem. That the OCO-2 satellite will provide better, detailed answers is a good point, which seems to be exciting a lot of “skeptics” who think that the results will turn the cause of the CO2 rise on its head. Which I am sure it will not do…
        The change to atmospheric CO2 of a year IS the residual of that year’s seasonal variation.
        Pure nonsense, as the seasonal variation is the result of the influence of temperature on (NH extra-tropical) vegetation, while the residual increase is NOT caused by changes in vegetation (vegetation is a net sink for CO2, not a source). Thus seasonal variability and residual are NOT from the same process, just like the waves and tides are not caused by the same processes that cause the sea level changes…

  39. Richard & Ferdinand:
    It was Jaworowski I was referencing. Thank you.
    Ferdinand:
    I did not see a point by refutation in the link, just a US Department of energy report on the ice core data.

  40. Richard & Ferdinand,
    You have provided a great deal of information, most of it understandable but perhaps some above my pay grade. Thank you, I very much enjoy this and I am learning a great deal. I choose to ignor the silly insults, you both seem passionate about this subject.
    If I can be allowed a business analogy; I have worked as a consultant on a large M&A transaction, the sale ( carve out) of Allison Transmission from General Motors as project manager. Allison made more profit in that year than the rest of GM. It was said that Allison was responsible for all of GMs profit that year because without it there would be no profit for GM. This is similar to the mass balance argument.
    But the above statement would be incorrect. There were other divisions in GM that were profitable, and others with even larger losses. Allison Transmission was just a part of a larger business, not the only answer to the source of GMs profits. Also, Allison Transmission shared numerous resources with GM. As a standalone entity the profits of Allison would be very different.
    What I have learned here of the complexities of CO2 emissions and up takes suggest a more complex answer to the human contribution of CO2 than mass balance.
    I also re-read Jaworoski’s paper. Did Calender cherry pick the CO2 measurements from the 19th and 20th Century? Was there a valid reason why so few of the available readings were used by Calender? Also, Jaworoski’s bio indicates he did have a great deal of experience with ice cores as well as experience with climate and CO2 measurements.

    • Gregory,
      My response is below this one, except about Jaworowski.
      As far as I can tell, he did a lot of work on ice cores specifically into the distributions of metals (for his work in the fall out of the radionucleides from the Tsjernobyl disaster) in the ice cores. Metal (ions) can more easily distribute through the ice matrix itself, which is impossible for CO2. Thus not comparable.
      I didn’t find any work from him that he ever performed any investigation in CO2 measurements (in ice cores or else), only wrote a lot of comments on the (possible) errors in CO2 readings from ice cores, published in 1992. In 1996, Etheridge e.a. responded by publishing the results of 3 high accumulation ice cores at Law Dome, which resolved many of the objections from Jaworowski. Despite that, he repeated all his objections in 2004 and 2007, even the ones which were refuted by Etheridge e.a.
      His objections contain completely wrong statements like the possibility of low CO2 levels in the core, because of migration from low (inside) to high (outside) levels and his use of the wrong column in the table of Neftel to “prove” that there was an “arbitrary shift” in data of the ice core to match the timing of the Mauna Loa data. He used the column of the age of the ice in the core instead of the age of the gas bubbles. As the pores during densification from snow to ice stay open for a long time, the average gas age in the bubbles is much younger than of the surrounding ice…
      I have never met the late Dr. Jaworowski, he seemed to be a very nice person, but his opinions about ice core CO2 were and are completely out of reality.
      About Callendar: he was not satisfied with the huge variability in CO2 levels taken by different researchers at different places over a year. What he did was using several a priori rules to wade through the bulk of the measurements. Some rules had merit: no CO2 measurements taken for agricultural purposes, within 10% of the bulk of the measurements, others were more controversial.
      Anyway, what he managed to produce was a rather smooth curve, which decennia later was confirmed by high resolution ice cores over the same periods.
      That many of the historical (wet chemical) measurements did only represent the (huge) local CO2 variability over land is clear from another long time direct discussions I had with the late Ernst Beck:
      http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/beck_data.html

  41. Gregory,
    There are some parallels between a business and the carbon cycle and some differences.
    The main difference is in the net yearly result, which for the carbon cycle was quite constant over at least 800,000 years and only influenced by temperature. Other influences like forest fires, volcanoes,… are not detectable within the resolution of the measurements.
    It is like looking at the total GM group and seeing that the year by year gain is in exact ratio to the turnover. We can call that the “standard response” of the group.
    Agreed that one can isolate any part of the group which has its own costs and gain. The difference here is that the outside player has no interconnection whatever with the rest of the group, has zero costs and only contributes to the gain. Only a few others of the group have the same one way addition (even not absolutely): volcanoes and rock weathering, but these are very small compared to the human contribution.
    Moreover, there is a mechanism at work (which is also the case in the financial world) that an increase in gain above the “standard response”, is in part removed to give an increase in capital to all members of the group (- extra investments -): each of the big members (oceans and vegetation) shows an extra gain in content.
    Thus while it is true that in theory one can find other ways of distribution that may be (in part) responsible for the increase, the main natural players are more sink than source (thus constantly loosing money) and the few one-way players are too small to have much influence. Only humans give huge one-way additions, increasing about every year.

  42. Ferdinand:
    You say
    Only humans give huge one-way additions, increasing about every year.
    No, volcanoes are not “humans” and they give “huge one-way additions” that are poorly quantified in magnitude and variability.
    Please see my above answer to Gregory here: it says

    Natural processes that add CO2 to the system:
    9. Production of CO2 from volcanoes (by eruption and gas leakage).
    10. Natural forest fires, coal seam fires and peat fires.

    Perhaps you would state the magnitude of CO2 emissions from coal seam fires and peat fires, the variability of this magnitude, and how you achieved this quantification?
    Richard

    • Richard,
      9. Production of CO2 from volcanoes (by eruption and gas leakage).
      Extrapolated from several (continuous) field tests around active volcanoes (e.g. Mount Etna in Italy): less than 1% of human emissions.
      And a nice explanation why volcanoes are peanuts compared to human emissions in EOS:
      http://www.readbag.com/agu-pubs-pdf-2011eo240001
      10. Natural forest fires, coal seam fires and peat fires.
      Natural forest fires don’t contribute to the carbon cycle, just give a momentary peak. They release CO2 which was captured only a few years to a few decennia before out of the atmosphere. Thus are “carbon neutral” within the time boundary of that definition.
      Peat fires are counted as “fossil” fuels if humans did use them as fuel (or started the fires as is the case in Indonesia during droughts). Thus add to the human influence.
      Don’t know how much peat fires are natural, but should be counted as one-way source as the time frame between uptake and release is hundreds to thousands of years. What I found is:
      http://www.wetlands.org/Whatarewetlands/Peatlands/Carbonemissionsfrompeatlands/tabid/2738/Default.aspx
      Altogether global CO2 emissions amount to at least 2,000 million tonnes annualy, equivalent to 5% of the global fossil fuel emissions.
      Spontaneous coal combustion (mostly during human exploration) does happen. Some figures, extrapolated from a worst case in China and extrapolated worldwide as a ratio between coal seam fires and mined coal:
      http://www.ltu.se/cms_fs/1.5035!/coal%20fire%20report%20-%20final.pdf
      the coal fires worldwide account for 0.31% of World CO2 emission in 2002.
      Thus volcanoes, peat and coal fires together may present 7%, give it 10% to have some tolerance, of human emissions.
      The main point is not how much these represent, the point is that there is a CO2 increase in the atmosphere which mimics the CO2 emissions from humans: both a factor 4 between 1959 and 2012.
      There is no sign that volcanic eruptions increased (to the contrary) or that there is a 4-fold increase in worldwide peat fires (the increase in coal seam fires is too small) over that period.

  43. Richard & Ferdinand,
    Is there a layman’s explanation for why, if I want an ice core sample of today’s air, I must wait 83 years to before I can get it?

    • Gregory,
      Depends of how much snow falls down each year. At Law Dome they have 1.2 m ice equivalent or over 2 m of fresh snow per year. That makes that at bubble closing depth, that is at about 72 m depth, the ice is already 40 years old, but the average gas composition is only 7 years older than in the atmosphere, due to permanent exchanges with the atmosphere, until the pores are too small.
      Then it takes a few years more to close all remaining open pores. That makes that the first fully closed ice is about 45 years old (at 80 m depth) and in that case the average air age is 10 years older than the atmosphere and represents the atmosphere with a mix of 5-15 years older air than in the atmosphere.
      Thus in the case of Law Dome, if you drill a hole today and take a sample of the first layer of fully closed ice, the average gas age is from only 10 years ago.
      In between you can measure the CO2 levels of the air in the still open bubbles/pores. That shows a smooth change from near the surface to bubble closing depth:
      http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_firn.jpg
      Thus, depending of the snow accumulation rate, you can find todays air after 10 years in the ice core of Law Dome, 83 years at the Siple Dome ice core and a few thousands of years at Vostok, where only a few mm per year of ice equivalent snow falls down…
      Some more background information can be found at:
      http://courses.washington.edu/proxies/GHG.pdf

  44. Gregory Lawn
    You ask

    Is there a layman’s explanation for why, if I want an ice core sample of today’s air, I must wait 83 years to before I can get it?

    Yes, there is.
    The ‘adjustment’ is made to obtain an apparent agreement of the ice core data to the Mauna Loa data.
    Such ‘adjustments’ of data to make fit with what is ‘wanted’ are common throughout ‘climate science’.
    Of course. in physical reality there is no way that the air in the ice would all move up a distance through the ice equivalent to 83 years (or 10 years) of ice formation whatever the time taken for ice closure. In this thread I explained what actually happens in the firn here. (And the 10 year figure is not relevant because the ancient CO2 measurements are not obtained from Law Dome.)
    To obtain a difference of 83 years between the ages of the ice and its entrained air would require the ice to take 166 years to seal with the average air composition of that 166 years being at the center height of the ice which solidified over that 166 years.
    The Mauna Loa data has been obtained since 1958 so the oldest of this data is only 57 years old. Therefore, it is not possible to obtain an average of 166 years (or of 83 years) of data from Mauna Loa because no such data exists. Hence, it is not possible to obtain a direct comparison of ice core data to Mauna Loa data.

    Richard

    • Richard,
      You have the average gas age in the ice completely wrong: 83 years is the difference in age of gas bubbles compared to the surrounding ice (93 years down from the surface), the gas age is much younger than 83 years in the Siple Dome (even I was on the wrong leg in previous message, it is only 10 years for that core).
      From the original work of Neftel (1992!):
      http://www.biokurs.de/treibhaus/180CO2/neftel82-85.pdf
      Here the table of ice age, gas age at the same depth and the CO2 levels measured at Mauna Loa for the same year as the average gas age:
      http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/siple_02.jpg
      As one can see, the average gas age is only from about 22 years of atmospheric air, because the air could freely move in and out the ice until the pores were too small (the air had 93 years to diffuse in and out over a distance of 68 meters, not really difficult!). The difference between ice age (counted by the number of layers) and the average gas age of the enclosed air is 83 years. That has nothing to do with the resolution of the air in the gas phase or the difference in timing compared to the atmosphere.
      The Siple Dome ice core was drilled in 1983/1984, the average gas age in the first fully closed ice was 10 years younger than in the atmosphere. That makes that there is a 15 year overlap between ice core CO2 data and direct measurements at Mauna Loa.

  45. the average gas age in the first fully closed ice was 10 years younger than in the atmosphere.
    Of course must be:
    the average gas age in the first fully closed ice was 10 years older than in the atmosphere in the same year…
    Thus if one takes a new ice core sample today at Siple Dome (or Law Dome), one will find the same CO2 levels of 10 years ago at Mauna Loa.

    • Ferdinand Engelbeen:
      You know you are stating a falsehood when you say

      Thus if one takes a new ice core sample today at Siple Dome (or Law Dome), one will find the same CO2 levels of 10 years ago at Mauna Loa.

      NO. You know – because you have previously admitted – that the the air in the cores is ‘smoothed’ by mixing in the firn prior to the ice sealing.
      And if as you say

      83 years is the difference in age of gas bubbles compared to the surrounding ice (93 years down from the surface)

      then you must be wrong when you say

      the gas age is much younger than 83 years in the Siple Dome

      unless, of course, you are claiming the bubbles contain vacuum and not air.
      The only important truth is that the ‘adjustment’ is made to obtain an apparent agreement of the ice core data to the Mauna Loa data.
      Richard

    • Richard,
      If real field researchers show that the average gas age at bubble closing depth of 68 m (Siple Dome) or 72 m (Law Dome) are in average 10 years older than in the atmosphere, that is because they not only have calculated that from a firn densification model, but verified the model by taking field measurements, measuring CO2 levels top down in the Law Dome firn and ice from the surface to bubble closing depth:
      http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_firn.jpg
      At 72 m depth the ice core is 10 ppmv less than in the atmosphere in 1993, that is the CO2 level in the atmosphere from 1983. That is only 10 years “older” than in the atmosphere. Not 30 years (Law Dome) or 83 years (Siple Dome), as that is the age difference with the surrounding ice at bubble closing depth. The latter has nothing to do with the average gas age, and very little with the resolution, which is less than 10 years for Law Dome and ~20 years for Siple Dome. Even if the gas exchange is over 93 years (Siple Dome), the bulk is composed of a mix of air which is from the last 20 years, as there was free movement of air in and out the firn before bubble closing.
      NO. You know – because you have previously admitted – that the air in the cores is ‘smoothed’ by mixing in the firn prior to the ice sealing.
      Prior to the ice sealing most of the oldest air is gone and as shown above, the average gas age is 10 years older at bubble closing depth than in the atmosphere, while the surrounding ice is 93 years old, thus a difference of 83 years between average gas age and ice age. No matter if that is practically only from the last 20 years or an asymmetric Gaussian curve, heavily weighted to the most recent years: at least half of the mix is from the last 5 years… Thus the smoothing is 10 years (Law Dome) or 20 years (Siple Dome) not 40 or 93 years.
      That is what is measured, which is easy to date as the curve of the CO2 levels is exactly known since 1958, sorry that it is not what someone likes to theorize…
      The only important truth is that the ‘adjustment’ is made to obtain an apparent agreement of the ice core data to the Mauna Loa data.
      That kind of “truth” only is the result of an imaginary idea from someone who doesn’t have any idea how the diffusion of gases in ice cores works… The 7 ppmv / 10 years difference is what is measured…

  46. Richard & Ferdinand,
    I’ve been away completing month end financial reports, unfortunately I have am employer who finds those more important than climate science. Go figure? I hope your still paying attention.
    I think the point, counter point on this subject could go on endlessly. I have learned much from both of you and thank you for all your posts. I will admit, Ferdinand, that you have moved to me closer to the center on this topic but I still remain skeptical because Richard raises considerable doubt about the lack of variability in CO2 concentrations in the past 600K to 800K years. I am still not moved by the “mass balance” argument because I find it logically flawed (not to be read as your science is flawed) and would not be comfortable using similar logic discussing the relative profitability of various divisions within a business entity. Anyway, that is my perception based on my admittedly limited knowledge on the subject of climate science.
    I will continue reading here (WUWT), hopefully seeing more from both of you. I will continue learning, with an open mind, from as many reliable sources as I can find.
    I am very happy to have found WUWT, what a great resource!

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