Wacky Claim: Forests 'held their breath' during global warming hiatus

From the UNIVERSITY OF EXETER comes this wacky headline:

Forests ‘held their breath’ during global warming hiatus, research shows

Global forest ecosystems, widely considered to act as the lungs of the planet, ‘held their breath’ during the most recent occurrence of a warming hiatus, new research has shown

Global forest ecosystems, widely considered to act as the lungs of the planet, ‘held their breath’ during the most recent occurrence of a warming hiatus, new research has shown.

The international study examined the full extent to which these vital ecosystems performed as a carbon sink from 1998-2012 – the most recent recorded period of global warming slowdown.

The researchers, including Professor Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter, demonstrated that the global carbon sink — where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the natural environment – was particularly robust during this 14 year period.

The study shows that, during extended period of slower warming, worldwide forests ‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, but reduced the rate at which they ‘breathe out’ — or release the gas back to the atmosphere.

The team believes the crucial study offers a significant breakthrough for future climate modelling, which is used to predict just how different ecosystems will respond to rising global temperatures.

The pioneering study is published in leading science journal, Nature Climate Change, on Monday, January 23 2017.

Professor Friedlingstein, Chair of the Mathematical Modelling of Climate Systems research group at the University of Exeter said: ” Disentangling the feedback between global warming and the carbon cycle is critical for us to anticipate future climate change. In this study, we analysed what happened during the recent period of reduced warming, the so-called hiatus, highlighting the importance of ecosystem respiration as a key control of land carbon sinks.”

The Earth’s vast ecosystems, such as forests and oceans, are known to counteract the adverse climate impacts of fossil fuel consumption by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting as a carbon sink.

However, uncertainties remain about how these ecosystems will respond to future climate change, whether by consuming more carbon or, conversely, releasing greater volumes of carbon back into the atmosphere.

The study focused on Earth’s natural carbon cycle responded during both periods of rapid, and less rapid, warming that would normally be expected.

It revealed that the total amount of carbon taken up by land ecosystems slowed during periods of rapid warming, and sped up during periods of slower warming.

More significantly, the team demonstrated that while rates of photosynthesis remained constant during the periods of slower warming, the forests released less carbon back into the atmosphere – meaning the Earth is storing much more carbon during these warming hiatuses.

“The global carbon sink has been surprisingly strong during the period from 1998 to 2012, and we now begin to understand the causal mechanisms”, says Ashley Ballantyne of University of Montana, and lead author of the new research. Pekka Kauppi a forest ecologist from Helsinki University and co-author added the results were “As if forests have been holding their breath”.

‘Accelerating net terrestrial carbon uptake during the warming hiatus due to reduced respiration’ will be published online in Nature Climate Change on Monday, Jan. 23 2017.


Meanwhile, in the real world:

International team reports CO2 fertilization prompted plants and trees to sprout extra green leaves equivalent in area to two times the continental USA, or nearly 4.4 billion General Shermans (largest giant Sequoia tree)


What’s even funnier is that Zeke Hausfather et al. has told us with absolute certainty, that the “hiatus” didn’t exist. Gosh, who to believe?


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At least they are acknowledging the hiatus. That’s something, I guess.

Darrell Demick

PaulH, that is a very good point.
Whenever I see articles of this nature, I double-check to see if it is April 1 ……

NW sage

Or the equivalent question: Did April 1 come on Jan 23 this year?

Bryan A

The researchers, including Professor Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter, demonstrated that the global carbon sink — where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the natural environment – was particularly robust during this 14 year period

Bunk, bunk, bunk…
And quite easily debunked
For global uptake of CO2 to be the driving factor for warming increase or hiatus, the CO2 record would clearly show a dramatic decrease over the hiatus period then a dramatic increase once again. There is no apparent slope change for ambient CO2 levels over the period of the hiatus in the Mauna Loa CO2 record. Unless someone is fiddling with that data as well.
If the CO2 sinks were “Particularly Robust” during the time of the hiatus, it would be evident in the slope of the Mauna Loa CO2 record

george e. smith

Models all the way down; starting right with the top dog professor at the top.
I’m glad he called it a mathematical model, and not a physical or biological model.
So it is Origami fiction and not science.
How about some observations of a red wood tree (Sequoia Sempervirens) holding its breath. I heard recently that redwoods suck the rain out of the coastal fogs.
The tops of those giants, up in the clouds (AKA fog) act as precipitating surfaces, and the water trickles down the tree trunk to the ground constantly so long as the tree is in the fog.
They literally make their own rain, and direct it to where it will do most good; their roots.

Greg Goodman

It revealed that the total amount of carbon taken up by land ecosystems slowed during periods of rapid warming, and sped up during periods of slower warming.

That is also what happens due to oceanic outgassing. I wonder how they distinguish the two.


This just proves you can get models to do anything you want, even if it flies in the face of reality or is completely illogical.

Crispin in Waterloo

George E
The giant sequoias each pump about 500 gallons of water into the air early in the morning after daybreak. This adds to the humidity of the sea air. The additional water vapour causes the fog to form and fall as rain or condense. In short, a lot of that fog is water from the trees.
This mechanism was discovered by Dr Richard St Barbe Baker in the 1920’s (founder of Men of the Trees). He observed that a single tree on its own could not perform this feat because it cannot create a microclimate alone. It needs a minimum size. He determined that 9000 acres was about the lower limit and started a campaign to set such a reserve aside. In this he was successful and stopped the clear cutting. He later got it expanded to 20,000 acres.
It is a very unusual phenomenon. Where the trees are too sparse, the fog cannot form and the moist air blows out over the desert, heats, rises and is lost. That is how he explained it to me.
The mechanism is not identical to the fog harvesting nets that are placed on high Andean mountain tops – they collect water as you describe. The Sequoia actually invest yesterday’s water in today’s moist air and make it rain. It falls to the ground, is absorbed and pumped up to the leaves for tomorrow.
I believe this is the same mechanism that causes tall tropical storms to harvest moisture out of the stratosphere, reducing the greenhouse effect if the temperatures at the surface rise. Whenever people talks about that I think of Richard’s story. It is wonderful what some people can accomplish on their own initiative. During his lifetime (93 years) he initiated projects that planted 4 billion trees. He said, “If you conservatively value a tree at one Pound I have added 4 billion Pounds to the world’s economy.”
In https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_St._Barbe_Baker it says the organisations he started planted 26 billion trees.

george e. smith

Sequoia Sempervirens is the COAST redwood. They grow essentially at sea level; not high up like Sequoia Gigantea.
And I have watched videos of the fog rolling in from out in the Pacific ocean late in the day, when it cools, and the fog is already there long before it blows over on to the land where the Sequoias are.
They even video’d the river of water trickling off the base of the trees.
Specifically this was taking place in the now protected old growth forest that was preserved largely as a result of rather hectic years by a whole lot of dedicated people, who risked life and limb to protect that large tract from clear cutting. I can remember those hectic events. I was not a part of it, but I applaud the end result that was reached. It IS a spectacular bunch of great trees.

Crispin in Waterloo

George E
Thank you for that additional information. I have only been close to one of those trees (in SF). It sounds as if there are two paths to the watering and perhaps that explains the ‘branchlessness’. I understand there are very large cedar trees on Vancouver Island – 16.5 ft in diameter – that are huge rain harvesters. Richard was big on creating forests that would take over deserts, if strategically planted. He recommended peach trees at the edge of the Sahara; said they were extremely heat tolerant.


It’s called evapotranspiration.


The hiatus is their word and henceforth I’m calling it a pause.


However, any discussion in which the dynamics are discussed in anthropomorphic terms smacks of garbage Gaia thinking. The forests do NOT gauge the temperature change and then decide what to do. Garbage, period


Well, it may not be long before the pause resumes ; )


…or the pause declines. It could easily do that.

Tom O

Haven’t read the article yet, but couldn’t help but notice that this sort of fits in with the idea of weakening skeptic ideas while admitting them. Their concept looks a little stupid, but it gives a “slight nod” towards the skeptic position while attempting to rationalize it. Maybe this is part of the new “psychological approach” of skeptic vaccination?

Man Bearpig

Better than that, they are claiming natural sources of co2 have a greater effect than the co2 from trees

Man Bearpig

Oops last part shoud read from man made emissions


Not really.. they acknowledge it only to drag in some ludicrous proof of it not really existing.
Like “deep ocean heating” – “the ‘pause’ wasn’t a pause as the heat went into the deep ocean” (totally ignoring the fact that the ocean cycle that takes heat down to “deep ocean” is a 500 year long one!)
Now the current bullshit is “the forests didn’t breathe out, that’s what the pause is”…
And the most sad thing of all? the average Muppet-on-the-street BELIEVES them!
I get banned regularly from various forums for posting anti-ACC articles – it’s quite amusing to read the rubbish they come out with to “explain” whatever is in the posted article (on the rare time they read it and don;t just wade in to attack me for posting something anti to their religion of ACC).


Another interpretation.
Due to increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere, forests around the world added bio-mass.


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, trees are being added globally. In the U.S., 1,000 pounds of new wood per person is added every year. The growth is due to the higher concentration of CO2, which nourishes trees, and also due to humans’ replacing wood for heating and cooking with alternatives.


Jake : Except in UK where we have replaced alternatives with wood for heating and coking. American wood, clearly the best kind, and fortunately, if your estimate is correct, growing fast enough to fuel our ever increasing number of biomass power stations

Yes:comment image


yep…and next they are going to have to explain how long a tree can hold it’s breath

Greg Goodman

Note that the ‘holding its breathe” idiom is like a hiatus. It implies that it is only temporary and inevitably it will have to breathe out again.
Just more “internal oscillation” word games. they don’t need to prove scientifically that the process will reverse later, they just imply it by sloppy, unsubstantiated analogies.


and all life on our planet got bigger.
So what happens when CO2 availability is suddenly reduced?




“‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, but reduced the rate at which they ‘breathe out’ ”
Ie.. THEY GREW !!!


Hiatus of rational thought, that is. Have we passed Peak Human Stupid yet?

Darrell Demick

Goldrider, +1 and as the saying goes, “I can fix a lot of things ……..”

Bryan A

We’ve definitely passed Peak Human Stupid though haven’t yet reached Peak Human idiocy

“Have we passed Peak Human Stupid yet?”
Not by far.
Did you see the “Woman March” over the weekend??


Heard some fake blond twit accuse a building, the White House, of ? not sure what. Mostly not understandable. Rampant attention seeking.

Pop Piasa

These are the fembots controlled by the media. They only know how the rumors go, but they’r never slow to put on a show.


It has been reported that 50 groups that marched in the Woman March were funded by George Soros, which isn’t surprising at all.


From Susan B. Anthony to this. How low we females have fallen.
These “protests” and AGW propaganda can be distilled to the same thing: a bunch of people whining about “fears”. To be fair, I also used to be really freaked out by potential dangers, even if they were far-fetched. I was also only seven years old.
Fortunately, I grew out of it (mostly). If only the noisy alarmists would follow suit.


This is an easy argument to make, first, make your liberal friend watch the Trump “Grab her her by the pssy” video. Then make them watch the video of the Afghani woman being beheaded for going outside without a male escort. Then ask them, which one should you protest. Failing that, make them watch a JayZ video.


AllyKat January 23, 2017 at 4:26 pm
… I also used to be really freaked out by potential dangers, even if they were far-fetched. I was also only seven years old.

That’s why we tell our children fairy tales like The Three Sillies.


Have we passed Peak Stupidity? Not a chance.

Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe. Einstein


We have certainly passed peak human smart. In spite of all the hand wringing and attempted rationalization, it is pretty clear that people are getting stupider http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking
Natural selection rules life and our failure to come to grips with that condemns humanity to oblivion.

Pat Kelly

Um, wouldn’t you describe this activity as growth? I guess, trees do grow on trees? I wish I was able to look at 9th Grade biology with wide-eyed wonder again too.

george e. smith

Somebody declared here that trees do not grow “UP”. Just out, and also more on top.
But the bottom is stuck at ground level for ever.
Well that is what they claimed.
Well there is a tree growing on my front lawn, and my son decorated it with lights over Christmas/ new year.
Well I untwined those light strings last Sunday (yesterday).
Then I noticed that over Christmas, the tree had grown ….. UP …… so that its lowest branches had gotten caught up in the rubber strap that holds the tree upright alongside a support pole; until the day it has grown laterally enough to not need outside help.
So I have Einstein’s ONE experimental observation that disproves the theory that trees do not grow UP.
This tree is most certainly growing UP from the Ground UP; and it is also growing out, and also from the top to higher UP.
So nyet on trees don’t grow up/

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes this.

Walt D.

Next they will be claiming that they are doing Yoga Breathing.


Wow. Um. I can’t even think of something to say. Seriously??

Ian S

“However, uncertainties remain about how these ecosystems will respond to future climate change”
I suppose it just depends how they feel at the time, doesnt it ?

Ross King

Just being Devil’s Advocate here…..
Recently, a graph appeared here(?) showing CO2 levels against time, and it was very ‘saw-tooth’ in form. The nadirs were at about the living-threshold of 150 ppm of CO2. The comment made was something like: “It was as if Nature got to being so deprived of life-giving CO2 that it took a deep-breath, and inhaled — with a +ve feedback cyclical response which led to a major turn-round in CO2 concentrations … until the trend again reversed.” (Correct me for any misinterpretation.)
Needless to say, I’m buggahed if I can find this graph in the tsunami of un-indexed, unsearchable info, so have to rely on someone’s better memory for back-up.
I’m a bit bothered that a ‘deep-breath’ comment passed with demur(?) when it suited *our* interpretation, but gets laughed-out when it runs contrary to *our* collective mind-set. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander…..

RK, play with fire carelessly and you will get burned.
Paleoclimate time scales are not valid comparisons (assuming that is what you refer to). Continents drift. That causes ocean currents to change. The tip into the current Plistocene ice ages was likely caused by closure of the Panama Isthmus between formerly connected Pacific and Atlantic. Antarctica did not begin to ice up until 35mya; 65 mya at KT boundary it was nestled up against South America, far away from the South Pole. That is why it has fossils from that time.
So, lets be charitable and suppose you meant just this century–you know, the temperature pause Mann’s paper said exists but Karl’s and Hausfalter’s said didn’t. From ~2000-2015. Now look at the Keeling curve. Sure enough, the NH seasonal swing is visible in each and every year of this century. Makes obvious that temporate NH land carbon sinks have a major impact on atmospheric CO2. That this seasonal CO2 ppm impact DID NOT CHANGE over the modeled period of this paperPROVES that the paper’s model is BS. And, yes, the internet protocol is caps constitute yelling. I am screaming at you.

Can you show exactly what you would expect to see change in the seasonal cycle if there were a decadal trend in respiration of the magnitude found in the paper?

Yes. A noticably diminished seasonal sine signal. There is none. Amplitude does NOT vary. Take a look for yourself instead of wastingnoxygen quibbling from the sidelines. I am NOW screaming at you too, second rater.

Ross King:
Our normally very meticulous and detailed ristvan jumped over some quick intros in his reply to you. Everything ristvan covered is true.
The graph(s) you are looking for are ice core data from Antarctica and Greenland cores.
What ristvan mentions very quickly that in spite of climate alarmist love to spliced changed scales graphing clusters of disparate data, the paleo ice core CO2/Temperature graphs are incompatible with modern CO2 measurements. Only the climate team members splice incompatible data and pretend it is informative.
Paleo CO2 graph shows relatively sharp changes in atmospheric CO2, but up to several thousand years are represented in each data point change.
Yes, the paleo graphs show that nearing the end of glacial periods, CO2 drops to suffocating levels for C3 plants. Suffocating, not suffocated, levels of 180-210ppm.
Levels that have not been experienced since the end of the last glacial. As long as the ocean warms, even just a few joules, (fraction of a degree), the oceans will continue to outgas CO2.
Though one can visit the OCO-2 Satellite’s annual measurement of CO2.

Well, Mauna Loa doesn’t agree.

Ian H

Exactly. It continues to show a slow steady rise. No signs of breath holding there.

M Courtney

But a mechanism related to trees that can be confounded with a mechanism related to oceanic uptake isn’t going to be easy to detect in Hawaii.
It’s likely to be dominated by the oceans out there in the Pacific.

Since the oceans cover 70% of earth, I suspect that any ‘forest breathing’ is irrelevant when discussing the pause.


Oceans are the more likely culprit. Warmer water absorbs less CO2 (or desorbs more). Colder water absorbs more. Add in uncertainty about how biological activity in the oceans acts and you can model them as having just about whatever net impact on CO2 that you want them to.
I’ll bet dollars to donuts the study doesn’t have the ability to resolve between the two.

george e. smith

The most sucking in of CO2 takes place in the arctic (North Pole) where something sucks in 18-20 ppm of CO2 in five months every year.
No sucking trees at the north pole.


What about the Father Xmas affect? Surely its not all fat? Needs an IPCC peer reviewed rent, err tax, no grant, no crucial scientific, peer reviewed study that can save Xmas agreed on by 95% of all scientists.
Surely no-one could not agree on a carbon tax if it saved the belief in Father Xmas? Then there are the reindeer,,,,, If it gets too warm at the North Pole the reindeer will have to move back to Macys.


(Times have changed, vboring; Dollars to donut holes ; )

John Harmsworth

Regardless, atmospheric CO2 records show no such “breath holding”. These bright academic lights should hold their breath after submitting this garbage.

Old Woman of the North

But it is they who breathe out CO2


Gee, and I thought plants exhaled oxygen.



I remember something called Le Chatelier’s principle from my days studying chemistry. It goes something like this: If a dynamic equilibrium is disturbed by changing the conditions, the position of equilibrium moves to counteract the change. In this case, if you disturb the equilibrium by increasing the CO2 content, the (eco)system will react in such a way as to reduce the CO2 content, i.e., it will tend to absorb the CO2.

george e. smith

Applies to more than chemistry. If you try to pull some current from a rotating generator, the current will set up a magnetic field that tries to stop the rotor from turning (it turns into a motor) and you will have to put some muscle into turning the rotor to keep up the RPMs.
Gee you will have to put in more mechanical oomph than you get from sucking the electric current from the spigot.
Funny the way that works. ( and verse vicea too; if you try to stop an electric motor shaft from turning, it will just reduce the back EMF generated, which will cause it to suck more current out of the supply votage).

Dean - NSW

No you just don’t understand, or you are talking about old fashioned experimental science. Get with the program.
All the feedback loops take the system further out of balance. Its incredible we have even lasted this long.

I agree Richard, even a joke about the inanity taking my breath away doesn’t work.
About scientific inanity, it provides another measure of how far they will flo to make the data fit the model.

That should read that it demonstrates how far they will ‘go’ to make the data fit their model.

John Harmsworth

Well TB, they are definitely going with the flow!


I thought you should leave it, caused images of serpents as I figured it out.


John H
But will the flow of tax dollars continue?
Or might some of the good souls with trotters in the trough need to seek another source of largesse?
If George Soros reads this, perhaps he will leap into the breach.
“Climate ‘Scientist’ needs funds; give generously. – data splicing at risk . . . .”

John MacDonald

I’m going out on a limb here, but sure seems like the reporter has no clue about the subject. I propose a new, simpler abstract: plant decay slows when temperatures rise less than models forecast.

From the article:

The study shows that, during extended period of slower warming, worldwide forests ‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, but reduced the rate at which they ‘breathe out’ — or release the gas back to the atmosphere.

So, let me get this straight, when the world warms LESS, trees breathe LESS CO2 into the atmosphere. And this supports CO2 global warming how ?
Seems to me that the study is supporting the idea that DECLINING warming rate causes CO2 reduction. Duh, … might ACCELERATED warming rate CAUSE CO2 increase ? [I ask again] And this supports CO2 global warming how ?

Hey, I’ll take this is one more vote that CO2 causation is questionable.
Could somebody have accidentally done some CO2 science here ?
Okay, end of sarcasm. Moving on.

Robert Kernodle ==> No, that is not quite right. what they are saying is that as forests grow more due to CO2 fertilization and warmer temperatures, they take up more CO2 (naturally, this is a given– they must do so). However, the bio-system as a whole — The Forest — does not emit as much CO2 as they thought it would under warmer conditions — CO2 is expected to be emitted by the breakdown of organic material in the forest floor etc. This CO2 emission part was far less than predicted by — yes — models.
It is easier for them to say that the “forests held their breaths” than to say our models were wrong.
They authors do state plainly that their was “reduced respiration” by which they mean the ecosystem not returning CO2 to the atmosphere. They claim no “increased photosynthesis,” though other recent studies on the “greening of the planet” contradict this view.

Okay, Kip, I’m going to study what you wrote very carefully:

Robert Kernodle ==> No, that is not quite right. what they are saying is that as forests grow more due to CO2 fertilization and warmer temperatures, they take up more CO2 (naturally, this is a given– they must do so). However, the bio-system as a whole — The Forest — does not emit as much CO2 as they thought it would under warmer conditions — CO2 is expected to be emitted by the breakdown of organic material in the forest floor etc. This CO2 emission part was far less than predicted by — yes — models.

Trees grow more when there is more CO2 with greater warmth, okay.
More trees growing more take in more CO2 with greater warmth, okay.
Predictions say that more growing trees growing more in greater warmth should emit more CO2, okay.
Study says that more growing trees growing more in greater warmth, in fact, emit LESS CO2 than predictions say, okay.
Greater warmth from CO2 favors greater growth and greater absorption of that CO2.
So, more CO2 promotes more growth that consumes more CO2 than emitted, which reduces the amount of CO2 that could cause further warming, hence somewhat removing CO2 as a causative agent preceding the temperature rise that this CO2 supposedly helped induce, … suggesting that something else besides CO2 causes the warming that induces growth that absorbs the CO2.
I still might be confused, but I still seem to see here an admission that skeptics would welcome.

Robert ==> The surprising thing they found is that warmer did not cause more CO2 emissions from forests (of course, not from the trees themselves, which expire oxygen) but from the breakdown products of the forest floor — CO2, methane, etc.
When you look at Mauna Loa CO2 graph:
you see what they mean by “breathing” by seasons.
It is not the trees that emit CO2 . It is the forest floor and in the waters (creeks, lakes) where leaves and wood are broken down by biological activity (which should increase with warmth). This is the concern about permafrost melting — if it melts, it will begin to breakdown and even more CO2 (and methane) will be emitted into the atmosphere.
Their finding is that the take-up of CO2 was as expected, but the return of CO2 through biological activity did not match expectations — their underdtanding being that warmer should produce more biological activity microbes, etc that give off CO2 (and take in oxygen).

John Harmsworth

The tree’s cousins from the city, the newspapers, told the trees about the pause so they could take it easy. It’s all in the magic of CO2!

Anne Ominous

Desperation. Pure desperation.

You misspelled ‘respiration’.

Pop Piasa

“Respiration desperation” is a breathtaking experience. What they really need is artificial transpiration! (nyuk, nyuk)

Old England

“It revealed that the total amount of carbon taken up by land ecosystems slowed during periods of rapid warming, and sped up during periods of slower warming.”
Did they adjust this for the increased rate of CO2 release from oceans during periods of rapid warming ? Because if not then their results would appear to have little value or point; they would be spurious.

What !! ? We gotta find that missing co2 !! Robust or not, they didn’t uptick 7.5 BMT. And that for one year. So what were the plants doing before ? Nothing ? The carbon cycle was in perfect balance before evil man starting polluting? One of the two statements isn’t true.


LOL! Pseudoscience packaged for consumption of the least common denominator and educated dullards incapable of an original thought.

Interesting critique. Not that you haven’t covered the broad picture, but could you elaborate on the key flaws of the study?


Forgive my ignorance.
I did not know trees have lungs.

Neil Jordan

Trees also walk. At least they did back in Macbeth’s time:
“Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him.”


It was not the forest but the SHRUBBERY! MacBeth’s enemies used shrubbery as camouflage to approach the castle. No walking trees.

John Robertson

You have the next Great Naturalism Hysteria, for the Cult of Calamitous Climate.
Indeed the trees have held their breathe, barely daring to dream, that their ancient enemies might put enough CO2 into the atmosphere to finally free them…
Play scarey music..
Any day now,the trees will rise from their slumber and march forth, erasing the works of man..
The pseudo science that drives todays hysteria is perfect to sell this kind of Doom,Doom,Doom.
Let us polish this a bit, and chose an arbutary Parts per million of atmospheric CO2 and ka-ching..We are all going to die,give me all your money..salvation for sale.
Hell the marketing possibilities are endless, the church of the atomic chainsaw,Bunion’s last stand,Axemen versus the willows….

Mickey Reno

Now the Climate Scientologists are redefining basic biology to help out with their communication problems. The trees are holding their breath? Trees are respiring? Really? I’m speechless.

I was wondering whether people here have a bizarre aversion to metaphor or don’t understand basic biology. Thanks for confirming it’s the latter.
Just to get you up to speed. Yes, trees respire.

Mickey Reno

Paulski0 links to this, (my bold)

“The process of breaking down these sugars is called “respiration.” It is the same process that animals (and people) use when they respire (not to be confused with “breathing”).”

Okay, you got me. Good one. I admit to being sloppy. I was equating their use of the term and their sloppy and false use of the phrase “holding their breath” to attack them for apparently trying make a false comparison between human respiration (which results in exhaling CO2) with trees exhaling CO2, which they do not. The by-product of tree respiration is O2. And they also “transpire” water. But they don’t breathe. And of course, when they die, or seasonally drop leaves, the decomposition of all plant matter breaks down to CO2 and methane and other complex carbon molecules.
Do you ever consider the use, misuse or abuse of language as a marker for propaganda and spin, Paulski0? Do you think you are particularly good at recognizing and or resisting operant propaganda? Do you think others are equally good? I’d be interested in hearing your take on why the phrase “forests holding their breath” was chosen by the authors. Have you got one?

why the phrase “forests holding their breath” was chosen
Because it’s poetic, and therefore more likely to draw people’s interest to learn more about the research.
Propaganda for… what? Trees without health insurance wanting free lung transplants?


Mickey, the by-product of plant respiration is CO2, just like animals, not O2. Plants photosynthesise in the day, producing O2 and carbohydrates from CO2 etc, then respire at night producing CO2 and energy. Obviously the CO2 released is not as much as is taken in, some goes to plant tissue.
I learned this at about age 11, and I’m still amazed that so few people understand it, or the fantasticly intricate and balanced carbon cycle in general.

Plants photosynthesise in the day, producing O2 and carbohydrates from CO2 etc, then respire at night
Not really true. They respire all the time, but can only photosynthesize with light availability so only respiration happens at night.

Mickey Reno

And of course, we can’t have a topic about breathing without the gratuitous link to Pink Floyd’s Breathe:


It might just be coincidence but a lot of flaky research headlines in recent days have used colloquial wording like “held their breath” and “vaccinated against”. We’ll see if more pop up with this word choice pattern, potentially for the liberal masses to digest and run with. We wouldn’t won’t to make it too complicated for the public or waver at all now would we. Meanwhile the psych ops teams are doing their thing with research in psychology outlets.

Ian H

We’ve all just been told that papers which use more persuasive and colloquial language get cited more. Scientists around the world are brushing up on their literary skills and turning to great novels for inspiration as to how the write the first sentences of their abstracts …

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Review and revision of Cenozoic tropical planktonic foraminiferal biostratigraphy and calibration to the geomagnetic polarity and astronomical timescale.

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. Quantifying the role of geographic change in Cenozoic ocean transport using uncoupled atmosphere and ocean models

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. Understanding Polarized Foreground from Dust: Towards Reliable Measurements of CMB Polarization.

… a fun game that anyone can play.


You are a bad boy.
Bad, bad, bad.
Your next paper will probably breeze through peer review.


HaHa LOVE it
Now is the winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this sun of York; And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house. In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths; Our bruised arms hung up for monuments; Stronger evidence that runaway methane clathrate breakdown may have caused drastic alteration of the ocean environment and serious coastal erosion on the east coast or England


Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. A study of the frequency of albinism in selected cetacean species.


Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Hematology studies find serious problems that could lead to the crash of albatross populations across the whole of the South Atlantic


It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. Mostly as a by-product of fossil fuel combustion, partly by land use changes — increases in the number of tiny particles (aerosols) in the atmosphere have been confirmed to herald the next ice age and the doom of human civilisation.


It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Ice build-up in Greenland cause time dilation.
We are all doomed.


“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, (except at occasional intervals, when it wasn’t stormy or dark and the rain didn’t fall) except when it was checked by a violent gust of wind, (or maybe not) fiercely agitating giant fans which swept the sky of birds and bats, (except when the agitation was too rapid and the fans stopped).which swept up the streets darkening the scanty glow of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
“It was a bright and sunny; the rain never fell anymore – except at occasional intervals, when it rained more, or less, or sometimes the same as always, searing the world into desert, except where it made things grow better,,and fiercely agitating the scanty logic of the true believers that struggled against the darkness.”


bright and sunny DAY… 😀

John Harmsworth

I’m fond of Dickens. We need someone like him now. A great communicator.

Neil Jordan

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. On the third day, out of the mud and slime of a backwater swamp, a climate scientist raised his hand and lifted high the hockey stick. This was widely regarded as an even worse move.


We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. We then realized that global forest ecosystems, widely considered to act as the lungs of the planet, `held their breath’ during the most recent occurrence of a warming hiatus . . .


“I’m fond of Dickens. ”
Me too……but I haven’t been to one for years …..(:-))

Your writing after the literary passages needs to show complete sentences to really make this brilliant comedy. (^_^) As is, the second passages are incomplete sentences with great potential to show wit.
Good start. Now develop it.
Yours truly,
Grammar Natzi

richard verney

What about OCO-2?
Don’t these images clearly show the forests of the world breathing? Of course this only goes back to 2014, but the Japanese CO2 imaging satellite shows something similar.
Has this data been studied and correctly inputted and accounted for in their model?

OCO-2 hasn’t been running long enough for a study looking at decadal-scale variability. As the actual abstract states the study looks at a combination of ‘satellite and atmospheric observations’ covering 1982-2012.
They aren’t saying there was zero respiration, just that the respiration rate reduced over the 1998-2012 period.

Neil Jordan

According to the ultimate authority Wiki*:
The record human breath-holding is more than 20 minutes. According to the wacky claim, trees being proportionately larger than humans would be able to hold their breaths proportionately longer. Or something like that.
*I normally do not trust Wiki for much, but make an exception for the wacky claim. Also there might be some \sarc in my proportionality theory, but you will have to pry it out of my grasp once I pass out from holding my breath.

Rob Dawg

Yet another peer reviewed paper proving the existing climate models are worthless.

Well, I’m confused. Is the paper “wacky” nonsense or serious peer-reviewed science?


Yet another peer reviewed paper proving the existing peer reviews are worthless.

Off the charts stupid. Computer games versus Keeling curve reality. The wheels truly are coming off the CAGW wagon. See subcomment above for details. Nuff said.

The ‘lungs of the earth’ tale has been around for a while and is hauled out whenever it suits. Forests cover roughly 10 per cent of the earth’s surface, whereas plankton-laden seas cover about 70 per cent of it, so it is the seas that are the lungs of the earth.

Wanna believe that too and Ferdinand and I have been around and around on it. He makes a lot of good points (always) and my only surviving argument is the “7 micro-atmosphere disparity”. You can think of it as the “skin” of the atmosphere as we speak of the skin of the ocean. In the tiny boundary layer of the atmosphere at the ocean surface, the partial pressure of CO2 is 7 thousands of an atmosphere higher than the equilibrium value given by Henry’s law.
You and I might still be right. Planktonic respiration could be doing this. If so, It would blow the doors off current conceptions of the Carbon cycle. As Bart has repeatedly pointed out, biology is exempt from Henry’s Law.

Barbara Skolaut

OK – these clowns are officially INSANE.


INANE I could go with.
I am not a medical professional, so am unable to certify them as insane.
Differently moralled – perhaps. . . . . .
Some or all of the above.


We (humans) breath in O2 an out CO2, Trees breath in CO2 (photo synthesis, sigh, they do not have lungs, but if we are going with the analogy sure) and breath out O2 and H2O if I remember my Jr High biology. So they are not holding their breath. If they did they would not release CO2. Al Gore talked about the Planet breathing in CO2 (when plants grow in the summer) and breath out (when plants decompose and die including the leaves on the trees in the winter) this can not stop, so if they are referring to the Al Gore planet the only way for the planet to hold its breath is to have a higher concentration of evergreens or warmer winters where fewer things die (oh crap global warming) but these *********** even missed that point and talk about Trees holding their breath which is whacko in so many ways my head just exploded.

Bruce Cobb

Oh great! So not only do we have heat “hiding” in the deep oceans, but now we have pent-up carbon in trees, ready to explode all that deadly, poisonous “carbon” into the atmosphere at any time.
We’re doomed.

Eric writes: “More significantly, the team demonstrated that while rates of photosynthesis remained constant during the periods of slower warming, the forests released less carbon back into the atmosphere – meaning the Earth is storing much more carbon during these warming hiatuses.”
Which is a hypothetical, maybe true?
It’s an organic and adaptive system after all. We don’t know how it works, maybe this is a clue? Have the investigators suggested a course of action? A method for validating the hypothesis?
Crazy ideas aren’t bad. It’s acting on crazy ideas that’s bad. Never rundown someone just because they have a crazy idea. But it’s OK after they’ve had a crazy idea and it’s been proven stupid. Then you can run them down 🙂
This is a new one on me. Maybe he’s right? You can either get out the popcorn, the laurel wreaths or the pitchforks. For me, it’s too soon to tell.

‘Course you are anthropomorphising. Why would anyone thing an entire forest would “hold its breath”?

Neil Jordan

The forest holds its breath because it is not getting its way. Breath-holding is followed by kicking and screaming and stompy fits. If that doesn’t work, there is always throwing pacifiers out of prams.

And if that doesn’t do the trick, they report all of your credit cards stolen.


Not so much as holding its breath, more like holding it nose for the last 8 years.
And since the world forest doesn’t/can’t breath through its mouth, there was the effect of not breathing at all.

Don writes:“Not so much as holding its breath, more like holding it nose for the last 8 years.”
I had to go with absorbing nicotine through my skin. It was tough but my dog survived it.

Beat me to it again. The forest has been holding its breath since the beginning of the Pleistocene, just like we do when we avoid some nasty smoke. The forests are our reciprocals, they choke on Oxygen.
These guys are saying that during periods of rapid warming the forests are especially disinclined to exhale. Perhaps because they have been holding their breath for so long…

There’s “nasty” smoke? Certainly not tobacco? Not dope. Burning dog hair?
Sorry Jim, I couldn’t resist.


Our favorite conifer writes: “The forest has been holding its breath since the beginning of the Pleistocene, just like we do when we avoid some nasty smoke.”
I was thinking about something far more personal. Kid’s love fart jokes…

Dean - NSW

Disentangling? Jesus wept. Does anyone know if that is the same thing as untangling?
These “scientists” think that adding yet another degree of freedom will make their models work.


Most O2 comes from the oceans. Most CO2 is absorbed by oceans. Forests have relatively small impact.

Actually, the Keeling curve NH seasonality suggests your statement is not true. More like 50-50. Go look at the Keeling curve in seasonal detail, think about what it shows, then get back better educated.

It depends what your read, or perhaps in this case, what you want to believe. I just did a quick read and found one suggestion that it is 60 per cent from the oceans. More to the point, it does not state that the remainder is from forests. But I suppose there is 97 per cent consensus on that!


But BCS,
Poor simple bum boatie here thought the science was settled.
Irrevocably settled.
The believers know everything – that is, EVERYTHING (shouty shouty) – there is to know about climates, climate change, global cooling, forest and oceans, clouds, and out-gassing, sun-spots, cosmic rays, tectonic plate movement and its effects and all the rest . . . . .
Can it be that there may be some tiny area where The Team might have some doubt?
Mods – sorry – /sarc.

Pop Piasa

Since CO2 is food to plants, wouldn’t the drop in night CO2 output be relative to an increased amount of stored energy? This would help explain why plants grow faster in higher concentrations of it. Is it possible that plants have a built-in guard against depleting the CO2 in the local biosphere, by simply respiring instead of growing? Then, as CO2 gets to healthier levels, the plants can safely process more into growth and don’t need to conserve.
That would make focusing on the warming a bit off-track.

Pop Piasa

Never mind, after reading Bill Illis I guess I’m “Son of Flubber” again.


So, negative feedback instead of positive feedback.


Sonce poants take in more CO2 than they release, this is more like plants inhaling deeply (to use their own flawed analogy), rather than holding their breath, surely?


My understanding is that when a forest is mature or becomes mature, the absorption of CO2 is the same as that which is released.
This means that the use of forests as carbon sinks is time limited as newly planted forests reach their maturity.
The only way to encourage further CO2 absorption is to harvest the timber and use it for accomodation.
Which in turn presupposes a growing population.
Which in turn is considered a bad thing by the progressive left.

That is a common misconception (gross assumption) from researchers who rarely visit the field.
Trees keep getting larger and larger as long as they are alive.
Just look at any crosscut section of tree trunk and start calculating volume each new annular ring contains.
Large trees grow an incredible amount of leaf cover with a likely equal root system.
Locust cycles, 11 and seventeen years, are a natural so to speak, method of pruning many hardwoods. The locusts lay their eggs near the woody growing branch of a leaf cluster. Killing the leaf cluster when the eggs hatch. Each lost leaf cluster results in several branching leaing structures the following spring.
Locusts are just one kind of insect laying their eggs into a leafing branch.


And the models predicted this, right? Right?? Hello???


Try “projected this”, BB . . siantists can be real finicky .. .

Bill Illis

I read what is available from Nature Climate Change and I can’t tell what these guys were doing.
Now, just guessing from it is available, but probably what they are talking about here is that there is a basic Carbon Uptake and a Carbon Release from vegetation. Maybe they mean “respiration”, is the net Carbon release part of the equation. The release is mainly from decaying vegetation material which mainly happens in the winter. So, it is not “respiration” but simply release from the vegetation as it decays in the fall and winter and early spring season as part of the Carbon Cycle.
There are various estimates for what these numbers are but generally vegetation is taking in 110 to 165 billion tons of Carbon per year and releasing 108 to 163 tons of Carbon each year – net uptake of 2 billion tons. (Ocean are another net uptake of 2 billion tons).
But this net uptake numbers have been increasing over time as the partial pressure of CO2 has increased. It used to be net 0.1 billion tons and now it is net 4.0 billion tons. Someday, it will get to 9.0 billion tons or so and plants will be a net Carbon intake of 4.5 billion tons.
In addition, the only people who can really answer what is going on with vegetation Carbon Uptake and Carbon Release are the people who are running the experiments with CO2 towers in forests and also in similar set-ups on grassland. These are actually serious studies running for many years and have been instrumental in resolving these issues.
The last study I saw which used all the data from these CO2 uptake and release experiments said that Carbon uptake and release was on the very highest end of the vegetation Carbon cycle nearer to the 165 billion tons numbers.
From what I can tell, this particular study did not use any of that data, however, but simplly crunched numbers and produced a number of “Fake Science: graphs.
Plants will continue to take in and release more and more Carbon (CO2) as the level in the atmosphere gets higher and higher. (The climate scientists just do not seem to be able to grasp this concept which is why we end up with the Bern Carbon Model and the alarmist position that CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years).

“The release is mainly from decaying vegetation material which mainly happens in the winter.”
As anyone knows who actually measures CO2 levels, some sort of “release” occurs on a daily basis. Experiences will vary, but here at 19°S 146°E, CO2 levels in daylight are around 380 – 390 ppm. At sunset, levels start to rise, reach 420 ppm at around 9 pm, stay at that level until sunrise. Large “forest” of mangrove upwind, dominant airflow is off the Coral Sea. No explanation other than photosynthesis turning off/on. Little variation throughout the year, but occasional “spikes” occur during late summer afternoons that could be decay boost from the continual mangrove brew, or possibly “carbon pipe” effect. Pattern and levels haven’t changed in 5 years. No vehicles, air-conditioners or power stations up-wind. (A large diesel engine idling 10 metres upwind from the sensor will show up, but me cussing round under it with the lawn mower doesn’t register.)

…but…but…but, don’t these people know there was never a warming hiatus? Denialists! Lock ’em up!

The group that performed this research must have enjoyed daily self gratification parties while sitting in a circle.
Start with assumptions.
Apply new assumptions.
Apply plenty of wishful thinking modeling and formula twisting.
Thoroughly blender the numbers.
From the caption of one of their graphs:

“Median trend lines from 4,500 simulations are plotted for the warming period from 1982 to 1998 (solid lines) and the warming hiatus (blue window) from 1998 to 2012 (dashed lines). e–h, Density functions of trend anomalies normalized to the entire era of common observation are plotted for temperature.”

They averaged 4,500 simulations to get their “median” line.
Somehow, their 4.500 simulations made for very small uncertainty bars.
Isn’t it amazing how accurate numbers one can get by averaging “garbage out”?
Bad modelers of the world! Average your troubles away with the new multi-thousand simulation master!
As demonstrated by NOAA climate models.


“The group that performed this research must have enjoyed daily self gratification parties while sitting in a circle.”
Were they mass debating ?

AGW is Not Science

Yes, hence their fear of “doing it with skeptics” – the fear of poor performance.


With the exception of the initial sprouting phase, powered by an investment of carbohydrates packed into the seed by the parent, growth can only occur when the CO2 input of a plant exceeds the CO2 output.
So they are just trying to say, in a desultory and “poetic” way, that plants flourished during “the pause”.

AGW is Not Science

Yes, that was essentially how my brain processed their twisted double speak – so plants grew, vigorously.

Keith J

Druids and tree worship. The primary photosynthetic biome is water. The limit to its oxygen production is iron in a bioavailable form. Plenty of iron oxide falls into the oceans but it sinks long before it can become available UNLESS there is sufficient sulfur trioxide in the atmosphere. That is my hypothesis. Stand by for the proof:
After the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, every atmospheric gas analysis trend showed carbon dioxide levels dropping. Aligns with Dr. John Martin’s iron seeding hypothesis except for duration. Why? Assumption that iron would remain at the surface is wrong. Plants are food, especially in oceans. But animals like coropods and others are themselves food. And they all migrate vertically every day. Iron sedimentation is therefore assisted by herbivory.
Give me a supertanker of iron and I will drop carbon dioxide by a few ppm.


So, there is no problem with coal then. This is just the forests exhaling after some number of millions of years. Say that to your local Gaia worshiper and watch their mind melt.


And they wonder why climate science is the clown of the sciences. Can’t wait for the funding spigot to shut off.


Umm, so this ‘holding their breath’ would I take it this impacts on the annual growth rings of the trees?
If not why not! If they do what does it say about the validity of the famous hockey-stick graph and it’s data? Growth patterns are not, by this research, only affected by warmth, moisture, etc but now a more troubling process by which growth slows during a temperature hiatus.


Firefox…Edit…Find…griff..stokes…tone…mcleod…bin somebody. Crickets.


They are also holding their breath, just shows how stupid this is if that bunch wont rush to defend it


If trees have an unexpected effect on CO2 levels, then the author is conceding that the world is not exactly how the current climate “scientific consensus” shows it to be. Any admission of there being factors showing that it is not perfect opens up the possibility that the scientific consensus is not exactly correct. Therefore, he is a science denier.


Publish Whatever keeps the Gravy Training rolling and delivering the gravy grant money…….sigh

Pop Piasa

I’m sure the papers and documentaries being released now, were timed to be part of the ‘doubling-down’ on climate change by the victorious progressive president, while she cemented all the “congressional bypasses” made by her predecessor into permanency.