Examining the Carbon Dioxide Cycle

Guest essay by Ronald R. Cooke

Introduction

In high school and college I did reasonably well in the physical sciences: chemistry, physics and geology. From these studies one can learn that carbon (C) is an element, is widely available throughout our universe, is chemically active (which means many inorganic and organic compounds include carbon), is present in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, is present in all natural fresh and ocean water, is a component of rocks (such as limestone), is a primary element of buried organic materials (including hydrocarbon deposits of oil, coal and natural gas), and is a very important element of the human body (about 18.5% of the elements in our body by mass). In fact, all life on this planet is based on hydrocarbon compounds which include carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

By contrast, carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that occurs naturally everywhere in, on and above our planet. Carbon dioxide is not carbon, but it does include one carbon atom and two atoms of oxygen. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in the atmosphere. Higher levels of CO2 encourage the growth of stronger and more abundant plants. All plant life (a form of organic matter) has been produced by the interaction of CO2 with energy received from the sun (sunlight + H2O + O2 + CO2 = photosynthesis). All oil, natural gas and coal are derived from buried organic matter which has been compressed and heated over millions of years.

We humans would not exist if there were no CO2 in the atmosphere. We either eat the results of photosynthesis directly (when we consume grains, fruits and vegetables), or indirectly (when we eat animals, birds and fish that have previously consumed plant life). The natural metabolism of the body produces CO2 as a byproduct which we (like all animals) exhale when we breath.

Thus it makes no sense to examine the carbon cycle (an element) when we are really interested in the carbon dioxide cycle (a gas); most specifically we want to know how CO2 is produced and consumed, as well as how much residual CO2 there is in the atmosphere. In the following graph we show the primary categories of how CO2 exchanged with the atmosphere. Down arrows represent a decrease in atmospheric CO2. Up arrows represent an increase in atmospheric CO2. The size of the arrow represents the relative importance of each category. The importance of each category as a percentage of global CO2 is shown by the accompanying table.

Carbon Dioxide Cycle
Increase
CO2
Levels *
Plant Respiration 220 27.6%
Decay of life forms 209 26.3%
Sea Surface 330 41.5%
Human Caused 37 4.6%
797 100.0%
Decrease
CO2
Levels *
Photosynthesis 440 55.6%
CO2 taken by soils 6 0.8%
Sea Surface 338 42.6%
Conversion of CO2 8 1.0%
792 100.0%
Human Caused CO2 4
As a % of total CO2 4.7%
Annual net increase 0.55%
*Gt (Rounded)

Increase Atmospheric CO2

Plant Respiration

A plant takes up water (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), oxygen (O2), and minerals through its roots. It also exchanges carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water with the atmosphere through its leaves and stem. It uses the energy of sunlight to convert these into sugars and starch through a process called photosynthesis. These are then used by the plant to increase its size and biological activity (growth of leaves, stems, roots, fruits, seeds, and so on). In so doing, excess plant energy is given off as heat (respiration).

A typical process is: 6CO2+6H2O+energy (from the sun) = C6H12O6+6O2 (sugars). Notice there are 18 oxygen atoms going into the process and only 12 are used up. In photosynthesis the 6 excess O2 gas is released into the atmosphere. The respiration process is C6H12O6+6O2 = 6CO2+6H2O + energy (some as heat). Respiration releases CO2 and water into the atmosphere (and soil). Photosynthesis is a primary source for the oxygen we humans breathe in order to stay alive.

Decay of Life Forms

Microbial decay (decomposition of matter) is a process that starts soon after a plant or animal dies. Organic material is broken down into basic elements. Decomposition always includes the release of CO2.

Plant decay includes water leaching which liberates soluble carbon compounds, including CO2. Smaller plants are largely decomposed by soil invertebrate fauna. The decomposition of larger plants (like trees) typically involves parasitic life-forms such as insects and fungi. Microbial colonization accelerates the attack on plant cells. In the last stages of decay, cellulose, hemicellulose, microbial products, and lignin are chemically altered by microbes.

We humans, along with other animals, begin to decay almost immediately after death. The tissues of the animal body are broken down by internal chemicals and enzymes. Bacteria invade the tissues and start the process of putrefaction. Gases, including CO2, are released by decaying animal tissue.

Sea Surface

Although we do not have sufficient knowledge to establish all the dynamics of the CO2 gas exchange between the surface of the ocean and the surrounding atmosphere, it is estimated that slightly more CO2 is absorbed by the ocean than is released by the ocean surface into the air. It is both a physical and a chemical process that is primarily controlled by the differential between the concentrations of CO2 dissolved in the water and how much CO2 is available in the surrounding atmosphere. Since CO2 is soluble in water, we get the chemical equation CO2 + H2O = H2CO3, a weak form of carbonic acid. In the presence of free hydrogen H2CO3 + H = yields a bicarbonate ion which is stored within the waters of the ocean. The amount of CO2 which has been dissolved in the waters of the ocean varies with geographic location and the circulation patterns of the ocean currents. Higher concentrations are more likely to be found in the more populous and industrialized northern latitudes.

Human Caused

We humans release CO2 into the atmosphere when we breathe, raise animals, cut down trees, shrubs and grasses, burn peat and plants, consume fossil fuels, and so on. Our consumption of coal, oil and natural gas is by far the largest source of human caused CO2 because we consume large quantities of these fossil fuels by the process of combustion (burning). Gasoline, diesel, jet, and heavy fuels provide the energy that powers our transportation system, including personal vehicles. Natural gas, propane, heating oil, and kerosene heat our buildings and homes. Coal and natural gas are primary sources of the heat for the generation of electrical energy. As shown by the above table, we release about 4 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year; accounting for roughly 4.7 percent of all CO2 that is released into the atmosphere from all sources (natural and human caused). Because of human activity, total atmospheric CO2 is increasing bout .55 percent each year.

Decrease Atmospheric CO2

Photosynthesis

Plants consume far more CO2 through the process of photosynthesis than they release into the atmosphere through the process of respiration. These chemical reactions make plants green (usually), help them to grow stronger, and increase the rate of growth. For plants, more CO2 is better and there is some evidence that elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased the greening of our planet. Plants, including trees, shrubs, grasses and crops, exchange CO2 with the atmosphere through their leaves and stems, and with the soils in which they live through their roots. At least 35 percent of available man-made C02 is consumed by plant life on our planet.

CO2 Taken by Soils

Since CO2 is soluble in water, damp or wet soils will take up CO2 where its chemical components may combine with other chemicals in the soil to produce other compounds.

Sea Surface

As discussed above, the ocean – along with lakes and rivers – removes more CO2 than is released into the atmosphere.

Conversion of CO2

Chemical conversion includes biological and chemical conversion of CO2 into other compounds, and effect of water vapor on CO2 in the atmosphere.

Results

Our model estimates that in 2015 we humans will cause the production of an estimated ~ 37 Gt of CO2. By way of comparison, the PBL Netherlands Assessment Agency has estimated in 2013 we humans were responsible for 35.3 Gt of CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels and industrial processes. It should be noted some scientists estimate human caused CO2 is significantly less than our estimate.

Human caused CO2 is ~ 4.7 % of total global CO2 emissions. This figure includes both combustion and non-combustion industrial processes (manufacture of plastics, fertilizers, paints, asphalt, cosmetics, etc.), agricultural land use changes, deforestation and logging, as well as CO2 from forest and peat fires.

The Annual Net Increase of global atmospheric CO2 is ~ .55% in our scenario for 2015. This percentage is approximately the same as the average annual mean of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide observed by NOAA ESRL at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii over the last 14 years ( ~ .54 % 2000 – 2014). A contraction of economic activity in future years will decrease man-made CO2 emissions.

As we have shown: chemical decomposition, photosynthesis, and absorption eventually remove man-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It’s all a natural process.

TCE

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181 thoughts on “Examining the Carbon Dioxide Cycle

  1. Good review of CO2. The author does neglect oceanic beasties, like foraminifera and other shelly creatures long-term sequestration of CO2.

  2. As discussed above, the ocean – along with lakes and rivers – removes more CO2 than is released into the atmosphere. + In the presence of free hydrogen H2CO3 + H = yields a bicarbonate ion which is stored within the waters of the ocean.= buffer

    ….then you can get into nitrification, denitrification, and nitrate ammonification …

  3. Fantastic post. Have long considered high school science as being well suited to explaining the critical role CO2 plays .
    Well done, Sir, well done indeed!

    • Is teaching the positive role of carbon dioxide in the environment allowed any more now that it’s a “pollutant”?

    • Totally agree John, fantastic post.

      Listing the hundreds of various ways that humans contribute such a minuscule level of CO2 to the atmosphere (when compared to naturally occurring CO2) would make an excellent sequel.

      Here’s just a few . . . .
      Human Cremation
      Large scale bread manufacture
      Snack food industry (Sodium Bicarbonate)
      Beer fermentation
      Modified air packaging (MAP)
      Removing caffeine from coffee beans
      Wine fermentation
      All yeast products
      Limescale removal
      Sand blasting (using dry ice pellets)
      Air bags in cars
      Self inflating life jackets
      Fire extinguishers
      Manufacture of carbonated drinks on a global scale
      Denture cleaning products

      and so on and so on . . . .

      Just need to expound/supplement each heading with facts, ie: “steamed coffee beans fall through 100ft holding vats of highly-pressurised man-made CO2 @ 180 psi to remove caffeine. The beans are collected at the bottom, freeze dried and ground into ‘instant’ granules or powder”.

      • 4ppm out of a total flux of 796 ppm is probably within the error envelope anyway!

  4. It is not the actual carbon cycle or atmospheric CO2 that the watermelons want to control.

    What the green-on-the-outside, red-on-the-inside Socialists really want is to be able to dictate to and control every person, every “freedom” granted or taken away as they feel fit to. The elites like Obama, Algore, DiCaprio then will get their reward for … well being our betters in their considered opinion. While we proles will eat runny porridge and work in the factories.

    • Nah, the robots will run the factories. Maybe we can be Soylent Green for Angus and Wagyu cattle, though!

  5. Hi from Oz. Ronald, I’m not sure how ‘We humans release CO2 into the atmosphere when we … cut down trees, shrubs and grasses’. I sure didn’t see any rush of CO2 the last time I pruned my hedges or mowed my lawn! OK, I understand that if I later burned the dry twigs and leaves there would be CO2 released, but as far as I know the process of just cutting down a tree and using the timber to build a house actually sequesters the wood’s embodied CO2 for decades or longer. Or was the statement made on the basis of ignoring the CO2 that the trees and grasses would have consumed had they not been cut down?

    • The amount of CO2 released from a cut tree (and its leaves and bark) that decays will be the same as that amount released when the whole tree is burned in a forest fire; or if the leaves and twigs and bark are burned in year 0, and the sawn timber later decays – after 150 years of utility within walls and floors, is it not? The delay factor for wood cellulose turned into paper and then decayed in landfills is a bit more complex, but just as complete.

      One could then argue for growing trees now to remove CO2 from the air in the next 20 years, then storing the lumber for 800 years while new trees are grown from CO2 released in years 21 to 40, 41 to 61, 61 to 81 ….

      • So why don’t they sequester Carbon in paper by burying it rather than recycling it?

        You have asked a good question:
        Answer: The economics of recycling make a certain amount of limited sense in many situations for many materials. In all cases, the material is dumped in recoverable places (except liberal cities like New York and NJ who dumped it irretrievably in the nearby but deep ocean waters!) so it can be recovered later when it does make economic sense to recycle that material.
        But, the economics of “sequestering carbon” never make any sense under any situations.

        But always remember, of all of the trillions of tons of elements ever mined or recovered on earth, only those few pounds of matter released into space cannot be retrieved and recycled. (Most important is Helium – Once vented, it can never be recovered commercially because it escapes the atmosphere. What we have now is all we will ever be able to get. And, yes, I’m including alpha particles and fused 1H1 atoms! )

      • A good book on what goes into our dumps, recycling and the economics is Rubbish by Rathje and Murphy. They are archeologists who conducted a series of digs through modern dumps (instead of those at some ancient site) and produced a very readable and informative book.

      • the same as that amount released when the whole tree is burned in a forest fire; or if the leaves and twigs and bark are burned in year 0, and the sawn timber later decays – after 150 years of utility within walls and floors, is it not?
        Your under the assumption that Gaia can’t cope with a few percent more even if its released slowly.

      • I try to explain this to ‘green’ friends who compost everything.. burn it, compost it – either or you still release CO2 back to the air. The standard reaction is to either express disbelief or look hurt.

        My personal opinion is there are certain things that should be taught in school that people *must* understand before they’re ever let free. Basic chemistry, biology and mathematics for starters, add rhetoric and critical thinking and make them all read Memoirs of Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Only after this should they be allowed out into the real world.

      • The kitchen cabinets in my house have been sequestering carbon for 40 years. They were looking dated and tired. But rather than replace them and chuck the old ones into a landfill to decay, we had them completely re-faced with new paneling, and replaced the drawer fronts and cabinet doors. So 90% of the original wood remains to continue sequestering carbon for perhaps another 40 years, and we added net new wood to sequester yet more. Can I apply for a carbon credit?

        Save the planet: don’t let perfectly good trees die and decay, or burn up in a fire — chop them down and make them into durable wood products which lock up that evil carbon for generations! We need to harvest, replant and use at least as much new wood products as the net CO2 imbalance to fight climate change!

      • Now just take all those logs, and leaves, and bark, and needles, and dump them into the bottom of the nearest depleted Coal pit mine and cover with water to begin the fossilization process anew.

  6. “Thus it makes no sense to examine the carbon cycle (an element) when we are really interested in the carbon dioxide cycle (a gas)”

    To all those more knowledgeable than I, is this a valid statement? If so, then this is an important distinction that needs more exposure.

    • Just discussing CO2 would leave out a large part of the story, such as that CO2 is formed and released into the air when we burn fossil fuels.
      Although one could argue that the fossil fuel carbon was originally taken into plants and other organisms which were later buried and transformed in the forms we use today, so burning it just releases the stored carbon back as CO2, as it originally was.

    • It’s valid to speak of the carbon cycle for mass balance accounting. For example, methane is another carbon compound released into the atmosphere from numerous sources. One mole of CH4 will react with O2 to make one mole of CO2.

      That said, the warmists don’t necessarily have the best intentions in mind when they refer to CO2 as carbon.

      • “warmists don’t necessarily have the best intentions in mind when they refer to CO2 as carbon.”

        That much is for sure.
        Referring to CO2 as carbon is as unscientific as it gets.
        No one calls salt “chlorine”, or calls water “oxygen”.
        Because that is not what they are.
        CO2 is not carbon…it is CO2.

      • CO2 as “carbon” is propaganda. People equate carbon with “soot.” (Soot = “dirty,” so CO2 is more easily portrayed as a “pollutant” — MS press articles are almost always accompanied by a photo of a smokestack spewing something into a clear blue sky.)

        I am a historian, not a scientist. What convinced me AGW was a hoax was the blatant use of propaganda techniques such as substituting “carbon” for CO2, and of course, the chronic Chicken Little pronouncements of imminent Doom.

    • The Cycle needs to be calculated in Carbon.

      When plants absorb CO2, it gets converted into other Carbon-based molecules, When vegetation dies and releases that Carbon again, it mostly comes out as CO2.

      When CO2 is absorbed into the Ocean, that CO2 gets converted into various different Carbon-based molecules. When the Ocean releases it again, it comes out as CO2.

      So, Carbon is the base measurement here. The math works very well just basing the numbers on Carbon.

      • Exactly.

        Here is precisely where the substantive carbon is used as it should. We are talking about the element, not CO2, which, btw, it is considered an inorganic molecule. Glucose, on the other hand, is organic. CO2 is converted into other carbon based molecules when it moves around the cycle.

    • No, as demonstrated by the fact the article needs to talk about CO2 + H2O = H2CO3 when discussing the oceans (where very little carbon is present in the form of CO2, which is why climatologists talk of the carbon cycle, rather than the carbon dioxide cycle). Also while H2CO3 is carbonic acid, very little carbon is present in that form in the ocean, but is mainly there in the form of carbonate and bicarbonate ions,

      CO2(aq) + H2O H2CO3 HCO3- + H+ CO3– + 2H+

      There is a very good book on this by Zeebe and Wolf-Gladrow, “CO2 in seawater: Equilibrium, Kinetics, Isotopes”, Elsevier 2001, which is very approachable for someone with a basic scientific background (it was written for non-specialists). Likewise the carbon is not in the form of carbon dioxide when it is part of a plant, the mass balance applies to the carbon (which is an element and essentially is neither created nor destroyed in significant quantities) rather than carbon dioxide, a molecule, which can be readily created and destroyed by chemical reactions abundant in nature.

      If the scientists who study this system look at it in terms of the movement of carbon, rather than the movement of carbon dioxide, and you think that makes no sense, then perhaps, just perhaps it may be that it is because you don’t understand something, rather than that the scientists who have spent many years studying are doing something that makes no sense.

      • Does the “carbon cycle” contain carbon from ALL SOURCES, not just CO2? If not, the name is not appropriate. You are not measuring the CARBON cycle unless you have all sources.

      • Sheri, yes, that is the aim of carbon cycle modelling (you can’t properly analyse the sources and sinks of CO2 in any other way as CO2 is created and absorbed in significant amounts by processes where carbon exists in other forms).

    • The carbon cycle consists of CO2 and numerous other carbon compounds which are formed and/or broken down during the process (carbonates, bicarbonates, hydrocarbons, etc.).

  7. The article talks about plant respiration, but not animal, fungal, etc, respiration. What are the numbers on the rest of life on this planet breaking down energy stores?

  8. From the article: “Although we do not have sufficient knowledge to establish all the dynamics of the CO2 gas exchange between the surface of the ocean and the surrounding atmosphere,”

    And here I thought the science was settled. Al Gore was so sure of himself when he said that.

  9. What I never see on these CO2 budgets is error bars. Given the three significant digits in the numbers, someone is claiming to know the data to better than +/- 1%. That someone is living in cloud cuckoo land.

    • More likely those someone(s) are fully aware that if people see the human CO2 emissions are of the same magnitude as the error in the other budget elements, they’ll be a lot more skeptical of the notion that human emissions are the factor that determines the overall balance.

  10. I question whether forest fires and peat fires should be included in the category of man caused release of carbon dioxide.
    Fire is a natural part of the ecosystems of the Earth.
    Many plants and trees require periodic fires as part of their life cycle.
    My understanding is that it is very likely, if not an indisputable fact, that we have suppressed more fires than would have occurred naturally without any people around.
    Back when the western states were sparsely inhabited, fires would burn vast tracts every year. Far larger fires than we ever see now used to burn across the plains and the western woodlands.
    In fact, this is another of the made of facts of the warmistas…that fires are bigger and cover wider areas now than ever before.

  11. This article is simplified on purpose. Let’s try to reach out with an easy to understand explanation to people with a grade or high school education. If anyone has a way to improve the numbers, or the explanation, please let me know. But keep it simple. Complexity can be a turn-off.

    • H2CO3 + H = yields a bicarbonate ion which is stored within the waters of the ocean.
      ___________________________

      H2CO3 H + HCO3 + electric energy

      yields H2CO3 as a bicarbonate ion which is stored within the waters of the ozean.

    • H2CO3 + H = yields a bicarbonate ion which is stored within the waters of the ocean.
      ___________________________

      H2CO3 –> H + HCO3 + electric energy

      yields H2CO3 as a bicarbonate ion which is stored within the waters of the ozean.

  12. The unusual feature of Earth’s hydrosphere and atmosphere is dioxygen (O2), which also makes possible our planet’s protective ozone (O3) layer and a range of oxygenated minerals in the lithosphere, such as rust. We have photosynthesizing organisms to thank for this gift.

    Some 2.3 billion years ago, however, this gas essential for aerobic organisms was a “Gift” in the German meaning of the word, ie poison. The evolution of cyanobacteria was a catastrophe for most other lifeforms on Earth at that time. Practically all living things then were anaerobic, hence wiped out in a mass extinction event by this highly reactive, single-element molecule.

    Around 99% of our air consists of dinitrogen (N2) and dioxygen. The atmospheres of Mars and Venus, by contrast, are about 96% CO2.

    Our free oxygen gas comes from water (H2O), but the organisms which free this oxygen from its associated hydrogen require CO2 to live and work their chemical magic through photons provided gratis by the Sun.

    Before cyanobacteria, Earth’s oceans were blood red, due to all the iron dissolved in them. Once oxygen became available, this iron rusted and settled to the bottom forming the red-banded ore deposits such as Minnesota’s famous Mesabi Range. Once sufficient iron had been oxidized, lethal O2 could start bubbling into the seas and air. The process of iron ore formation however wasn’t complete until around 1.8 Ga.

    Climastrologists like to think that the liberated oxygen reacted with the previously methane-rich atmosphere, producing CO2 and water, thereby, perhaps paradoxically, cooling the planet calamitously and initiating the Huronian glaciation, aka the first and most profound “Snowball Earth” episode. Other scientists find different explanations for the coincidence of these disasters, such as the breakup of supercontinent Kenorland, which had formed ~2.7 Ga.

    But the few microbes not killed off adapted, evolved and overcame. Our ancestors managed to survive and learn to love and take advantage of the higher energy levels now possible. This led eventually to the evolution of multicellular heterotrophes, ie fungi and animals.

    Evolution expert Olivia Judson has recently presented a new hypothesis about the stages of energy use through which life on Earth has passed:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0138

    Organisms can get up to sixteen times as much energy from a glucose molecule in the presence of oxygen than without it.

    So, whatever effect manmade GHGs really may or may not have, we’re not a pimple on the posterior of Paleoproterozoic Era cyanobacteria.

      • Glad you liked it.

        I needed a relevant and snappy close, after so much (arguably) digression from the CO2 cycle.

        But it’s true, that life has altered Earth practically beyond recognition, often for the worse, but, as in this most extreme case, ultimately, from our point of view, the better. Whatever effect we might be having now is negligible to nonexistent compared to cyanobacteria, ancestors of algae and plants.

        I can only guess what percentage of species died out in the Great Oxygen Catastrophe, but surely higher than even the Permian-Triassic “Great Dying”, Mother of All (Phanerozoic Eon) Mass Extinctions.

      • …as long as there’s life…there will be pollution

        ….or at least something those numbnuts can label as pollution

      • PS:

        Olivia Judson is the hottest or second hottest of all female evolutionary biologists, meaning no disrespect to her colleagues:

        Cancer fighter Franziska Michor, “the Isaac Newton of Biology”, is younger, so might get the nod at this point in time.

        I don’t know if either of them has reproduced, as they ought to have done, given their field. Judson’s undergrad and grad schools are the same as mine, although I’ve never met her.

        Her first book, “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation” (2002), grew out of an article for “The Economist” entitled, “Sex Is War!”. Written in the style of a sex-advice column for animals, the book details a variety of sexual practices in the natural world and provides an overview of the evolutionary biology of sex. An international best-seller, it was nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. She wrote, “True monogamy is rare. So rare that it is one of the most deviant behaviors in biology.”

        Her second book, “Dinosaur Eggs for Breakfast”, came out in 2009. Her new “The Energy Expansions of Evolution” is liable to be a hit, too.

      • Latitude May 21, 2017 at 5:27 pm

        So true. And one organism’s poison pollution is another’s breakfast. Without the waste product of cyanobacteria, there would be no fungi or animals, including humans.

        BTW, despite fungi having cell walls, like plants, animals and fungi are more closely related to each other than fungi are to plants, as makes sense when you think about it, since we’re both heterotrophs, unlike autotrophs such as plants, which can make their own food. Animals and fungi are opisthokonts, way out by ourselves (with a few unicells like choanaoflagellates) on a limb of the evolutionary shrub of life.

      • She wrote, “True monogamy is rare. So rare that it is one of the most deviant behaviors in biology.”

        This may be a truism, but is it relevant, and does it miss the point about human nature?

        Humans are unique in the animal world. They have the ability to pontificate on what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what is love, and what is a true expression of love etc, and to be guided accordingly. Thus, there is no reason why humans should not set themselves apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.

      • Chimp if we are talking about climate scientist hotness scale, we are obligated to post Juliene Stroeve from the NSIDC.

        Hot as Ice.

        Here giving a talk to a bunch of guys getting ready for a fish derby. She actually walks up to the screen three or four times.

        No drooling boys.

      • I should note Juliene testified before Congress this year so not your everyday trout bowl scientist.

    • Chimp,
      And something else that isn’t well appreciated outside the circle of mineralogists is that biogenic oxygen has changed the mineralogy of Earth. The abundance of oxygen has allowed minerals to form that could not have done so in the absence of free oxygen.

    • Chimp

      May 21, 2017 at 4:43 pm
      says

      Before cyanobacteria, Earth’s oceans were blood red, due to all the iron dissolved in them. Once oxygen became available, this iron rusted and settled to the bottom forming the red-banded ore deposits
      In reducing atmosphere iron is in the form of Fe ++ ions. Fe++ is pale green not red.
      Iron as an element rarely occurs on Earth.
      Iron Fe does not rust in the ocean. Green Fe++ is oxidized to red Fe+++

  13. Like the simplicity, but agree with some others that semi-permanent sequestration (buried carbonates and organics that become shale, coal, and oil) and volcanic released carbon dioxide needs a mention, even if its to say “Contribution Unknown”.

    The long term sinks are an important concept – oil isn’t just sitting there in the ground since time began, its part of the carbon cycle. This deviates somewhat from the CO2 focus, except it explains that “man-made carbon dioxide” is just us recycling natural carbon for plant food.

    Good luck getting this generation of high school kids to pay attention though! LOL Unless you make it into a Rap or K-Pop song… That might work.

      • Last week I commented that Bio-Mass is not just the things we consume for energy, it is everything that had been alive and is living. The Carbon Cycle is not much different than the Carbon Dioxide Cycle. Yet many in science today ignore that Fauna are Secondary Sinks of Carbon Dioxide where the arrow goes from Flora to Fauna before the arrow goes from Fauna to the Atmosphere.

        ( I wrote this in 2013 )”Bio-Mass includes all the insects down to single cell lifeforms like bacteria as Micro-fauna – that are not Flora – and combined out Mass all the over 7.3 billion humans alive today. “A single average sized human at rest approximately exhale about 1,963 Pounds of Carbon Dioxide – more than they inhaled – per year as an average. There are now 7 Billion Humans in the world as of 2013. Multiply 7 Billion times 1,963 equals 13,741,000,000,000 Pounds or divide by 2,000 for a short ton equals 6,870,500,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide “Humans” produce a Year. If you added every form of animal from insects, fish, and birds and up to a massive Whales, how much Carbon Dioxide is created in a year? I haven’t looked it up in years, but read it somewhere that termite mounds in Africa – if I remember correctly – produce so much Carbon Dioxide that the air around them is suffocating to animals that get near them, because they consume nearly all the oxygen in the area and make it CO2 rich. ”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breathing

        http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-biomass-definition-lesson-quiz.html

        http://www.thefreedictionary.com/biomass

        https://askabiologist.asu.edu/content/atoms-life

        When Global Warming and Climate Change Scientist separate Natural from Human contributions in their figures, Humans are included in the Natural – as in Nature – category. Yet, when they include Deforestation in the Human Contributions they do not include natural Deforestation fires or blights or droughts in the Natural Contributions. Here’s what one site said….

        (I apologize that I spent 40 minutes trying to find the environmentalist site that I got these figures from and haven’t found it yet. I put this together back in 2013 too.) “Naturally Created Carbon Dioxide: 42.8% is the Exchange between our Atmosphere and the Water Bodies of Earth. All Flora and Fauna Respiration and Decomposition 28.56%, with soil Respiration and Decomposition another 28.56% and the minor contributor from Volcanic Actions at 0.03% to a combined total of 99.95% of the Earths Carbon Dioxide created by the Natural Sources…of which Humans are all a fraction of those Fauna. But these sites then give the other 0.05% created by Humans broken down to 87% of all burning of Fossil Fuels, Deforestation (like forest fires that over 80% are caused naturally globally and yet all is contributed to humans) as 9% and the remaining 4% is from Industrial Sources like the manufacturing of Cement.”

        Note how the combination of Human Contributions are not into the decimal points that the Natural Contributors are. Also notice how the combined Human Contributions adding up to 0.05% is more than that given for volcanic activities at 0.03% and how you often read/hear how Fossil Fuels contribute more CO2 than Volcanoes. Do the math for just the 87% of human Contributions out of that 0.05%.

    • The same is true for methane from melting permafrost. It is mainly derived from decaying plants, ie. purely natural. That permafrost melts opens a very productive plant growing zone, so on average, the uptake of CO2 vs. emissions from methane in these zones probably balances out, over many millennia. Permafrost is just a stalled compost pile.

  14. What are the uncertainties in the production and reductions of the various sources and sinks of CO2? Are they bigger than our contribution and the accumulation term?

  15. It is good that that we are dealing with the science here rather than the politics.

    this video tries to blame the present ice age on co2 decreasing in the atmosphere because of increased erosion of the Himalayas(never mind that the summit of Everest is colder than the arctic).

    this video seems to show that the alps are eroding more than the Himalayas but no mention is made of decreasing co2 in the atmosphere here.

    • This is an old canard, based upon the accidental coincidence of the Indian Plate running into the Eurasian Plate shortly (in geologic time) before the climatically meaningful event happened, ie the opening of deep oceanic channels between Antarctica and South America and Australia.

    • The uplift of the Alps and the Himalayas depleted CO2, however, the reduction of the CO2 level probably did not cause the ice ages since cooling has not occurred in the tropics. The paper Early Palaeogene temperature evolution of the southwest Pacific Ocean about 34 Mya concludes, “…This observation raises questions concerning the precise role of decreasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in cooling the Eocene poles, as in theory they should have cooled tropical regions as well…It has been suggested that the general warmth that characterized early Palaeogene climates was forced by high atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations….However, the presence of substantial Middle Eocene continental ice (Antarctica) is still equivocal given the general warmth and overall absence of conclusive physical evidence.” See http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7265/abs/nature08399.html

      Challenging the greenhouse gas theory is the Amazon rain forest’s 10-16 million year existence. Apparently, the inhabitants did not get Al Gore’s memo. See Scientific American May 2006 pg 52.

      • High average temperature in the Paleocene and Eocene is what caused the high CO2 levels, not the reverse. CO2 is an effect of heat, not a cause, although there could be a slight positive feedback effect.

      • Yes, given the high levels of CO2 in our past, the current land-locked state of the continents, and our CO2 deprived foliage, can’t see the problem with more CO2.

  16. CO2 levels were (arguably) made dangerously low by the uplift of the Himalayas. The role of terrestrial plants in limiting atmospheric CO2 decline over the past 24 million years, Nature 460, 85-88 (2 July 2009) doi:10.1038/nature08133, concludes that grasslands are the result of the CO2 suffocation of trees. Plate tectonics were responsible for CO2-depleting mineral formation, especially, the uplift of the Himalayas. CO2 levels dropped to 200-250 ppm from 1000-1500 ppm as forests starved for CO2, giving way to prairies. See http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1038/nature08133.

    Then, to add to the list of carbon sinks is mineral formation and plate tectonics.

    When volcanoes erupt, the spewing CO2 had to have come from somewhere.

  17. “Human caused CO2 is ~ 4.7 % of total global CO2 emissions. This figure includes both combustion and non-combustion industrial processes (manufacture of plastics, fertilizers, paints, asphalt, cosmetics, etc.), agricultural land use changes, deforestation and logging, as well as CO2 from forest and peat fires.”
    Umm Forest Fires are man caused?
    How about those coal seams burning in the high Arctic?
    Man caused too?
    Last time I looked the boreal forest needs fire to function.
    Apart from that, good post.

    • Some forest fires are man (or woman) caused. People have been jailed for arson for starting some of the larger forest fires. Not all are, but there is a certain percentage. Perhaps that percentage should have been included in the write-up.

  18. Ronald R. Cooke
    The vast majority of your values used above to balance your carbon cycle are ESTIMATES. This is not fact, or real data. The true values are not known. And this being a sceptic site, there should be more scepticism, especially when the word estimates is used. Treat estimates with the same contempt as some do with Models. Both equal the same outcome – uncertainty.

    The ocean and the biospheres simply take it all up. That way the Keeling curves at ML look neat and tidy.. Where is the evidence for your claims – there is none.

    In 1890 it took 1Gt to raise the atmospheric CO2 1ppm / decade. From 1970 to present it takes near 5 Gt to achieve the same. If the sinks are so rapacious, then the comparitively miniscule human emissions since the start of the industrial revolution (IR) should not be visible in the atmospheric count. But they are, and were evident from the start of the IR. As soon as emissions were made, there it was.

    The fact that atmospheric CO2 increases were visible and recorded from start of the Industrial Revolution, clearly signals that the CO2 sinks were, and are still not adsorbers of human emissions, Equilibrium at best,

    The increase in atmospheric values from the start of the IR, coupled to the increasing volume of human emissions required to raise the annual residual CO2 value (right up through the vertical column to >100km), tells me that the biospheres are not taking up human emissions.

    Human emissions are <5% of the total carbon cycle, and yet the value is so pronounced on the atmospheric volume, and always has been. Why?

    There is no account or any consideration by any individual, of troposphere CO2 losses, despite excellent data identifying the increasing valies and a seasonal cycle at altitudes of 80, 90 and 100km and above. Here it is being recorded as it passes through. Also, look at the CO2 curves at the sampling stations above 45N, such as Cold Bay and Ireland etc. They show a very rapid rise in CO2 from September, but virtually no atmospheric accumulation for December to April. CO2 is not accumulating in the top half of the NH at the time of highest emissions. Where is it going – It is going into the Arctic region and south to the equator upwelling.

    If human emissions are so small, (much smaller 200 years ago) and yet they were and still are mmediately visible in the atmospheric signal,the sinks are not taking it up. What the Mauna Loa site records during its cucle between November and April is that CO2 that remains in the troposphere.

    Chart of increased seasonal values at 80, 90 and 100km.

  19. This essay goes through a lot of details of processes. But it doesn’t try to add up where carbon is going in total, or how the various fluxes are linked. To see why this matters, here is the plot of total carbon (Gt C) in the atmosphere over the last thousand years (Law dome and Mauna Loa) compared with our cumulative emissions:

    The nett result of all those photosynthesis/respiration and sea exchange fluxes was nothing. Stable CO2. It wasn’t until we started clearing land and digging up FF in a big way that air CO2 started rising. And when it did, it moved with our emissions – about half stayed in the air.

    There is a reason for that. Plants reduce CO2 in the air by using lots of sunlight energy. That energy is part returned by oxidation, and that supports most of life. The reduction products are unstable in the presence of O2, and will either be respired of burnt. It is just a transfer between the air and biosphere, and can’t go anywhere, which is why it didn’t. We can’t expire CO2 that plants didn’t first take from the air. And the same with the sea. CO2 dissolves when the water cools, and outgasses when it warms. That is a seasonal cycle. You can see these two effects in the Mauna Loa record, at much reduced amplitude, because the NH and SH are undergoing the seasonal processes out of phase.

    So the plot shows 338 Gt CO2 going into the sea, and 330 coming out, each year. The closeness of those figures is not an accident. It’s the seasonal change as the temperature rises and falls. The 8Gt difference is the fraction of that 37 Gt human emission that is going into the sea.

    “chemical decomposition, photosynthesis, and absorption eventually remove man-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
    This is where you need to add up total quantities. Total biosphere C is about 800 Gtons. Our total FF and land use emissions are about 500 Gtons. The biosphere cant absorb that without radical expansion. And the layer of sea that can rapidly exchange with air has a similar amount, and can’t carry much more (that’s why it outgasses every summer). CO2 can diffuse slowly to depth, but that is on a long timescale.

    • Nick Stokes:

      You say

      This essay goes through a lot of details of processes. But it doesn’t try to add up where carbon is going in total, or how the various fluxes are linked.

      Yes. That is because nobody knows the magnitudes of the various carbon fluxes.

      We only know how the net effect of all the carbon fluxes varies atmospheric CO2 concentration at the places where it is measured.

      Richard

      • And the fact that net effect of all the carbon fluxes is a rise at a rate less than the rate of anthropogenic emissions means we know that the natural environment (i.e. everything except anthropogenic influences) is a net carbon sink, and hence has been opposing the rise in atmospheric CO2, rather than causing it.

        There is a worldwide network of monitoring stations, and they all give a similar picture of the long term increase, which shows that CO2 in the bulk atmosphere is well mixed.

      • dikranmarsupial:

        Clearly, logic is not your strong point. You say

        And the fact that net effect of all the carbon fluxes is a rise at a rate less than the rate of anthropogenic emissions means we know that the natural environment (i.e. everything except anthropogenic influences) is a net carbon sink, and hence has been opposing the rise in atmospheric CO2, rather than causing it.

        No! We do NOT know that.

        There is no reason to suppose that “(i.e. everything except anthropogenic influences) is a net carbon sink”

        There are many sources and sinks of CO2 in and out of the atmosphere and several of those fluxes are larger than the anthropogenic emission. Some may be increasing and some may be reducing, and all we know is that the net effect of all sources and sinks is a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

        Richard

      • ” logic is not your strong point”
        No, your reading is poor. He did not say that everything acts as a sink. He said that the natural environment is a net sink. We know that because the rise in CO2 mass in the air is about half what we have emitted. The rest went somewhere – into the natural environment, which therefore acts as a net sink.

      • Nick Stokes:

        I quoted (i.e. copied) what dikranmarsupial wrote and I refuted it.
        If he intended other than he wrote then that does NOT mean my “reading is poor”.

        As I said,
        There are many sources and sinks of CO2 in and out of the atmosphere and several of those fluxes are larger than the anthropogenic emission. Some may be increasing and some may be reducing, and all we know is that the net effect of all sources and sinks is a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

        Please explain why you think my true, accurate and factual statement should be replaced by the less complete and misleading statement that,
        “We know that because the rise in CO2 mass in the air is about half what we have emitted. The rest went somewhere – into the natural environment, which therefore acts as a net sink.”

        Richard

      • Because it isn’t true that “all we know is that the net effect of all sources and sinks is a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration”. We know very well how much that rise was – measured at many places, and now bu OCO etc. And we know very well how much we emitted – it was a major economic activity, tracked by thousands of accountants. Since the emission exceeds what is there, we know that DM is quite right in saying that the net movement was of CO2 leaving the air.

      • Nick Stokes:

        You write this falsehood

        Because it isn’t true that “all we know is that the net effect of all sources and sinks is a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration”. We know very well how much that rise was – measured at many places, and now bu OCO etc. And we know very well how much we emitted – it was a major economic activity, tracked by thousands of accountants. Since the emission exceeds what is there, we know that DM is quite right in saying that the net movement was of CO2 leaving the air.

        Rubbish!
        Cite measurements of total fluxes into each sink and out of each.
        SUCH MEASUREMENTS DO NOT EXIST AND NOBODY KNOWS GHOW THEY COULD B E CONDUCTED.

        And it is NOT true that “DM is quite right in saying that the net movement was of CO2 leaving the air”. That is only true for half of each year and the net movement is of CO2 joining the air during the other half of each year. See this.

        Richard

      • Even if human emissions are having a negligible impact on atmospheric carbon growth, nature would still be a net sink for co2. (if all the mass of the anthro co2 doesn’t wind up in the atmosphere, then by default, it will end up in the sinks) DM is wrong when he says with certainty, nature is “opposing the rise”. We only know for certain that nature is opposing the rise of the mass of the anthropogenic co2…

      • As I posted earlier how population increases of Bio-Mass increases Carbon Dioxide in the environment and increases Bio-Mass exponentially. I’ll expand on that here. The Human population was estimated to have been over a million during the Last Ice Age and by its end was estimated at above Half a million. It took thousands of year’s to reach a billion people. Then by the Industrialization Period with decreasing starvation and mortality rates do primarily to improved heath, shelters, farming and animal husbandry there was an ecological explosion that outweighed the Carbon Dioxide caused by Fossil Fuels used by Human’s. Although Human’s have caused damage to the environment in the process. The increases of Bio-Mass has improved the environment to support more Bio-Mass. Farming and ranching of land and aquatic Bio-Mass has exponentially increased and reduces the impacts on wildlife and natural resources of biological materials. Clear Cutting is not done anymore…etc. Plains and deserts are now farmed and even the cities expanding in them has increased the Bio-Mass by irrigation that the natural growth would have never reached that level. Again, Fauna is a Secondary Sink of Carbon Dioxide. Insects and micro fauna out weigh the Fauna most people think of as being Fauna and are Carbon Sinks. At the same time all those Fauna contributes more Carbon Dioxide into the environment than they inhaled or converted by their respective biological process. It cannot be denied that Human’s in this sense have a great deal to do with Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide increase in the environment. It is the meme that Fossil Fuels use is the problem. When it is just a minute fraction of it. Yet, the propaganda of Environmental Terrorists and their support from Governments to reduce the Carbon Dioxide by Taxation is ludicrous. They know they’re advocating a lie to harm Capitalism by Socialism. And they have the indoctrination resources to push it.

      • richardscourtnay writes

        “No! We do NOT know that.

        There is no reason to suppose that “(i.e. everything except anthropogenic influences) is a net carbon sink”

        There are many sources and sinks of CO2 in and out of the atmosphere and several of those fluxes are larger than the anthropogenic emission. Some may be increasing and some may be reducing, and all we know is that the net effect of all sources and sinks is a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.”

        Yes, we do know that, assuming conservation of matter (in this case carbon). If the rate at which atmospheric CO2 is rising is faster than the rate at which we are emitting it, then the net effect of all other influences must be removing CO2 at a rate equivalent to the difference. This is true regardless of the emissions and uptake rates of natural sources and sinks or whether those rates are changing. It is a law of physics (conservation of mass) and simple matter of accounting, which we have gone through before more than once. Most people able to operate a bank account would see this immediately, it is hard to understand how some have difficulty with stocks and flows when it comes to carbon dioxide.

      • richardscourtnay writes

        And it is NOT true that “DM is quite right in saying that the net movement was of CO2 leaving the air”. That is only true for half of each year and the net movement is of CO2 joining the air during the other half of each year.

        Given that we are talking about the long term increase in atmospheric CO2, pointing to the regional seasonal cycling in atmospheric CO2 is an obvious red herring because it averages out over the course of a year, and so has no effect on the long term increase. There is a strong seasonal signal at Mauna Loa in the tropics where there is a lot of vegitation, but there isn’t one in Antarctica, which is far enough away from seasonal sources and sinks to average out their effects.

      • Gavin, perhaps an analogy with two bank accounts (checking and savings) would better suit the purpose here. If nature can be taking out 50% of the mass of aco2, then there is no reason why nature couldn’t be taking out much closer to 100%. (nature on it’s own, then, making up the difference) We really don’t know whether the mass of aco2 is winding up in the sinks or winding up in the atmosphere. Either way, nature will be a net sink for carbon. Even the expected 10 ppm natural rise over the last half century (a la ice cores) is a stick in the wheel of the mass balance argument…

      • afonzarelli There aren’t two bank accounts, there is only one (the balance representing atmospheric CO2 levels). There are two account holders that share the account (representing anthropogenic and natural processes), if one (“anthropogenic”) deposits $1000 a month and observes the balance rises by on $500, then he knows that the other (“natural”), whatever his deposits and withdrawals actually are, must be withdrawing $500 a month more than he is depositing. This is because of conservation of money, money that is put in the account that isn’t taken out of the account stays in the account. It is a simple as that, and it is pretty depressing that there are those that can’t acknowledge the evidence on this one.

        Of course the usual ploy is to invent some third party that might be affecting the balance (e.g. bank charges), but that is just rhetorical evasion. In the analogy one account holder represents anthropogenic sources and sinks, the other represents all natural sources and sinks (note the argument doesn’t depend on knowledge of the natural fluxes or even that we know what the sources and sinks are). So as we have already accounted for all anthropogenic and all natural sources and sinks, this third party must represent some extraterrestrial or supernatural source or sink. Good luck with that one! ;o)

      • When budgeting the atmosphere, where co2 goes after leaving the atmosphere is irrelevent. If the mass of the anthropogenic source enters the atmosphere but doesn’t stay there, then the rise must be coming from the natural source…

        (i’m afraid that i’m under a time constraint here; would like to develop this further, but cannot at present. Hopefully, i’ll get back as time permits)…

      • dikranmarsupial:

        You say

        There is a strong seasonal signal at Mauna Loa in the tropics where there is a lot of vegitation, but there isn’t one in Antarctica, which is far enough away from seasonal sources and sinks to average out their effects.

        Ahhh! You demonstrate that assumptions are can be convenient when attempting to excuse evidence which refutes your assertions.

        Mauna Loa was chosen despite its proximity to volcanism BECAUSE it was supposed to be separated from significant effects of tropical vegetation.

        Please explain how you know (n.b. not why you assume) “Antarctica, … is far enough away from seasonal sources and sinks to average out their effects. Are you saying the oceans don’t seasonally release and sequester CO2?

        Richard

      • richardscourtney wrote:

        “Mauna Loa was chosen despite its proximity to volcanism BECAUSE it was supposed to be separated from significant effects of tropical vegetation. ”

        No, it was chosen because it samples the bulk atmosphere and is not greatly affected by local sources of CO2 because of the pattern of airflow there. The seasonal signal is caused by the imbalance of landmasses between the north and south hemispheres, not local vegitation and is a genuine feature of the bulk atmosphere of the Tropics. This is well explained by Willis Eschenbach here.

        The seasonal cycle is a red-herring as we are talking about the long term change in atmospheric CO2, so any seasonal variation that averages out in the long term is obviously irrelevant.

      • richardscourtney writes:

        Are you saying the oceans don’t seasonally release and sequester CO2?

        Of course there will be some seasonal variation in the oceanic carbon fluxes, but as I understand it most of the fluxes are due to ocean circulation (up- and down-welling) rather than seasonal changes in surface temperature etc. however I am happy to be corrected. However the effect is small, as demonstrated by the lack of a seasonal signal at Antarctic monitoring stations.

        Of course this is just an exercise in rhetorical evasion, because as I have said, we are talking about the long term increase in atmospheric CO2, so any seasonal variability that averages out in the long term is entirely irrelevant. They point I was making is the fact that the rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 is slower than the rate at which we emit it, and the physical law of conservation of mass means that this tells us the net effect of the natural carbon cycle has been to remove CO2 at a rate equal to the difference.

      • afonzarelli wrote:

        When budgeting the atmosphere, where co2 goes after leaving the atmosphere is irrelevent. If the mass of the anthropogenic source enters the atmosphere but doesn’t stay there, then the rise must be coming from the natural source…

        No, that obviously isn’t correct. Say we have a cookie jar, and each day I put in five tasty jammy dodgers but don’t take out and eat any of them. You put in 10 bland rich tea biscuits but take out 12 biscuits and eat them, naturally taking any jammy dodgers in the jar first because they taste better. Following your logic, you would argue that you are causing the level of cookies in the jar to rise by three biscuits as day (as there are no jammy dodgers left at the end of the day), even though you are taking more biscuits out of the jar than you are putting in, which is obviously absurd.

        A similar argument can be made even if you select the cookies at random, see the example in my paper, as the number of rich tea biscuits would still be growing faster than the rate at which jammy dodgers rises.

      • Dikranmarsupial:

        You say

        Yes, we do know that, assuming conservation of matter (in this case carbon). If the rate at which atmospheric CO2 is rising is faster than the rate at which we are emitting it, then the net effect of all other influences must be removing CO2 at a rate equivalent to the difference. This is true regardless of the emissions and uptake rates of natural sources and sinks or whether those rates are changing. It is a law of physics (conservation of mass) and simple matter of accounting, which we have gone through before more than once. Most people able to operate a bank account would see this immediately, it is hard to understand how some have difficulty with stocks and flows when it comes to carbon dioxide.

        I wish you would stop posting straw men: nobody denies conservation of matter.

        You are ignoring that almost all the carbon flowing in the carbon cycle is in the deep ocean and nobody knows the rates of exchange of this carbon with ocean surface layer and thus to other parts of the carbon cycle. Any change of the exchange rate of carbon between deep ocean and ocean surface layer must alter the amount of CO2 available to the atmosphere.

        A bank account obtains a balance by knowledge of all the flows in and out of the account. And all the flows may vary with time. If you only knew an alteration to the balance then that would not enable you to know which of the flows in and out of the account caused the alteration.

        Importantly, a bank account is NOT an appropriate analogy for CO2 in the atmosphere. There is no equilibrium state that affects flows in and out of a bank account. But there is an equilibrium state of the carbon cycle and, therefore, any change to atmospheric CO2 concentration affects all flows of CO2 (including anthropogenic CO2 emissions) in and out of the atmosphere.

        You are assuming that the only CO2 flow into the atmosphere whose changes you know must be causing the observed change to CO2 balance in the atmosphere. That is not a logical assumption especially when the total CO2 available to the atmosphere may be changing and the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle is known to be changing (e.g. from temperature changes).

        I don’t know why anybody would adopt the stupid assumption that the carbon cycle behaves like stocks and flows into and out of a bank account or like cookies into and out of a jar

        Richard

      • Dikranmarsupial:

        You have added to your edifice of assumptions by writing this

        richardscourtney wrote:
        “Mauna Loa was chosen despite its proximity to volcanism BECAUSE it was supposed to be separated from significant effects of tropical vegetation. ”
        No, it was chosen because it samples the bulk atmosphere and is not greatly affected by local sources of CO2 because of the pattern of airflow there. The seasonal signal is caused by the imbalance of landmasses between the north and south hemispheres, not local vegitation and is a genuine feature of the bulk atmosphere of the Tropics. This is well explained by Willis Eschenbach here.

        The seasonal cycle is a red-herring as we are talking about the long term change in atmospheric CO2, so any seasonal variation that averages out in the long term is obviously irrelevant.

        Twaddle!

        If the “bulk atmosphere” of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii
        “is not greatly affected by local sources of CO2 because of the pattern of airflow there”
        then the “bulk atmosphere” of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii
        “is not greatly affected by “significant effects of tropical vegetation”
        because Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

        The rise of atmospheric CO2 over a year is the residual of the seasonal variation of CO2 over that year; see this. If the reason(s) for the seasonal variation of a year are not known then the reason for their residual cannot be known and, therefore, the most relevant information is the cause(s) of the seasonal variation.

        But you assert the reason for the choice of the site of the Mauna Loa station can be handwaved away and the most pertinent information can be assumed to be “irrelevant”.

        Reality does not agree with your assertions and your excuses for the disagreement are becoming desperate.

        Richard

      • rcihardscourtney wrote

        I wish you would stop posting straw men: nobody denies conservation of matter.

        I didn’t say that anyone denies conservation of matter. What I am saying is that people have difficulty accepting that a consequence of conservation of matter the net natural flux of CO2 into the atmosphere each year is equal to the difference between anthropogenic emissions in that year and the observed atmospheric increase, and that net natural flux is negative, i.e. nature is opposing, rather than causing the rise.

        A bank account obtains a balance by knowledge of all the flows in and out of the account.

        If I deposit £1000 per month into an account I share with my wife (to which only my wife and I have access and which attracts no interest or charges) and the balance only rises by £500, then I know that she has spent £500 more than she deposited, and I don’t need to know all of the flows in and out of the account to know that. It is a direct consequence of conservation of money. Likewise as a direct consequence of conservation of mass, the fact that atmospheric CO2 is rising more slowly than the rate of anthropogenic emissions tells us unequivocally that the natural environment is a net sink of carbon from the atmosphere and is opposing the rise, rather than causing it, and we do not need to know all of the individual fluxes to know that.

        You are assuming that the only CO2 flow into the atmosphere whose changes you know must be causing the observed change to CO2 balance in the atmosphere.

        No, the mass balance analysis makes no such assumption, that is of your own invention.

        I don’t know why anybody would adopt the stupid assumption that the carbon cycle behaves like stocks and flows into and out of a bank account or like cookies into and out of a jar

        It is not an assumption, they are analogies that demonstrate the consequence of conservation of mass by showing how conservation of money and conservation of cookies leads to obviously correct conclusions. It

      • richardscourtney wrote:

        If the “bulk atmosphere” of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii
        “is not greatly affected by local sources of CO2 because of the pattern of airflow there”
        then the “bulk atmosphere” of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii
        “is not greatly affected by “significant effects of tropical vegetation”
        because Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

        [emphasis mine]

        There is a big difference Richard, between “local” (in this case the vicinity of the big island of Hawaii) and the Tropics, a wide band encircling the whole Earth:

        Consider the difference in area between the Big island of Hawaii and “the Tropics”, it is rather large. That may help you appreciate the distinction being made, why Mauna Loa is well sited, and why there is a seasonal cycle in bulk atmosphere CO2 at tropical lattitudes.

        Mauna Loa was chosen as a good monitoring site because it not greatly affected by the effects of local sources and sinks of CO2, because of the prevailing wind patterns (see the post by Willis that I referenced).

        The effect of all vegetation in the Tropics (the wide band around the Earth) on the bulk atmosphere is however one of the things the Mauna Loa record is trying to measure. CO2 is a well mixed gas, and quickly gets spread around the bulk of the atmosphere by the jetstream, Hadley cells and other circulation features. The only way to get measurements not strongly affected by ANY tropical vegetation is to site it in the Antactic (not in the same Hadley cell for a start), and if you do that, the seasonal signal dissapears.

      • dikranmarsupial:

        You provide many words, some evasions, but no evidence and/or argument to support your assumptions.

        This is a classic example! I wrote

        I wish you would stop posting straw men: nobody denies conservation of matter.

        You are ignoring that almost all the carbon flowing in the carbon cycle is in the deep ocean and nobody knows the rates of exchange of this carbon with ocean surface layer and thus to other parts of the carbon cycle. Any change of the exchange rate of carbon between deep ocean and ocean surface layer must alter the amount of CO2 available to the atmosphere.

        And you have replied

        I didn’t say that anyone denies conservation of matter. What I am saying is that people have difficulty accepting that a consequence of conservation of matter the net natural flux of CO2 into the atmosphere each year is equal to the difference between anthropogenic emissions in that year and the observed atmospheric increase, and that net natural flux is negative, i.e. nature is opposing, rather than causing the rise.

        All that reply does is to again ignore that almost all the carbon flowing in the carbon cycle is in the deep ocean and nobody knows the rates of exchange of this carbon with ocean surface layer and thus to other parts of the carbon cycle. Therefore,
        YOU ARE WRONG when you say you it is possible to discern that “nature is opposing, rather than causing the rise.”

        And the rest of your post ignores that I pointed out your analogies are not appropriate.

        I wrote

        Importantly, a bank account is NOT an appropriate analogy for CO2 in the atmosphere. There is no equilibrium state that affects flows in and out of a bank account. But there is an equilibrium state of the carbon cycle and, therefore, any change to atmospheric CO2 concentration affects all flows of CO2 (including anthropogenic CO2 emissions) in and out of the atmosphere.

        You are assuming that the only CO2 flow into the atmosphere whose changes you know must be causing the observed change to CO2 balance in the atmosphere. That is not a logical assumption especially when the total CO2 available to the atmosphere may be changing and the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle is known to be changing (e.g. from temperature changes).

        Instead of addressing that, you talk about putting £1000 in a joint bank account with your wife!

        I now point out that we have returned to the point I made in my first post in this subthread. I copy it to here to save you needing to find it

        Nick Stokes:

        You say

        This essay goes through a lot of details of processes. But it doesn’t try to add up where carbon is going in total, or how the various fluxes are linked.

        Yes. That is because nobody knows the magnitudes of the various carbon fluxes.

        We only know how the net effect of all the carbon fluxes varies atmospheric CO2 concentration at the places where it is measured.

        Richard

        Richard

      • Richard, i don’t know if the methodist church has saints, but if it does, you would certainly be up for canonization some day (!)

        O.K., gavin, here we go… We’ll borrow an analogy of ferdinand’s from his 2010 piece comment section. We have a super volcano which emits 2 ppmv into the atmosphere. 1 ppmv sinks leaving 1 ppmv in the atmosphere. We also have a super factory which emits 2 ppmv into the atmosphere. 1 ppmv of it sinks as well leaving an addition of 1 ppmv in the atmosphere. So, the rise is 2 ppmv total and there is also 2 ppmv total sinking. When budgeting the atmosphere, where co2 goes after leaving the atmosphere is NOT part of the accounting. All that matters is that each adds 2 ppmv and from each of the 2 ppmv additions 1 ppmv leaves the atmosphere. Therefor, the super volcano adds 1 ppm to the atmosphere, as does the super factory. Half the rise is natural and half is anthropogenic…

        Now you, on the other hand, are doing the accounting wrong. You are including sinks in your budgeting. According to you, since a natural source is adding 2 ppmv and natural sinks are subtracting 2 ppmv, the net addition from nature is 0 ppmv. (and thus, you would claim that the entire rise is anthropogenic, that is to say, caused by the super factory)

        Each of the two sources (volcano and factory) are virtually identical. Each is outside of the carbon cycle. Each has the same 2 ppmv addition. Each sinks 1 ppmv. And, yes, each causes a 1 ppmv rise…

      • Gavin, i posted a comment this afternoon, but alas, it was a no show. If it ever shows up, it should be right above this one. (WP has been getting cranky of late)

        Your biscuit analogy didn’t do a thing for me, except make me hungry. (COOKIES !!!) i’ve got an atmospheric analogy that better illustrates my point. i’m not likely to get back to this thread today, but maybe late thursday or friday…

      • afonzarelli:

        You say

        Richard, i don’t know if the methodist church has saints, but if it does, you would certainly be up for canonization some day (!)

        There is no possibility that I could be though to be a Saint, but the behaviour of dikranmarsupial is devilish. His latest trick is to make a post out of subthread in hope that he will get the final and undisputed word.

        His nasty little out-of-subthread post is here and is followed by my rebuttal which ignores his untrue claims of my “selective quotation” and “rhetorical tricks”.

        Richard

      • Richard:

        If the reason(s) for the seasonal variation of a year are not known then the reason for their residual cannot be known

        The reasons for the seasonal variation within a year are known with reasonable accuracy, as temperature has an opposite effect to CO2 release/uptake in the ocean surface than in vegetation: warmer in summer gives more CO2 release of the ocean surface and more CO2 uptake by vegetation. As there is far more vegetation than oceans in the NH, the seasonal amplitude is strongest near ground in the NH.
        In the SH, there is far more ocean than vegetation, but still there is a slight CO2 sink in summer compared to winter in the CO2 trends.

        Further, it is easy to distinguish between ocean CO2 and vegetation CO2, as any change in CO2 is paralleled by a change in δ13C if the CO2 change is by the oceans but opposite if the change in CO2 is by vegetation. It is clear that vegetation wins the battle:

        Moreover, temperature gives only a small change in solubility of O2 in the oceans, while CO2 absorption by vegetation sets a 1:1.2 amount of O2 free, or opposite for vegetation decay. That is abserved in the seasonal O2 changes.

        Thus we know with reasonable accuracy the origin of the seasonal variation: mainly by vegetation.
        We also know that vegetation is NOT the origin of the increase in the atmosphere, as that is a growing sink for CO2, the earth is greening.

        The seasonal residual over the past 59 years was always less than human emissions, thus while the total sink capacity increased about a fourfold, human emissions also increased a fourfold and thus the yearly increase in the atmosphere. All what happened is that the seasonal amplitude increased somewhat, but the overall increase in sink capacity of oceans + vegetation was not sufficient to remove all human emissions in the same year as emitted:

        The periods were taken for each half period that δ13C were taken regularly at Barrow. The seasonal CO2 amplitude from the begin and end period of Mauna Loa and Barrow would differ more…

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:

        You respond to a comment from me by saying

        If the reason(s) for the seasonal variation of a year are not known then the reason for their residual cannot be known

        The reasons for the seasonal variation within a year are known with reasonable accuracy, as temperature has an opposite effect to CO2 release/uptake in the ocean surface than in vegetation: warmer in summer gives more CO2 release of the ocean surface and more CO2 uptake by vegetation. As there is far more vegetation than oceans in the NH, the seasonal amplitude is strongest near ground in the NH.
        In the SH, there is far more ocean than vegetation, but still there is a slight CO2 sink in summer compared to winter in the CO2 trends.

        As you say, “there is a slight CO2 sink in summer compared to winter in the CO2 trends”.
        Yes, that is the reason there is the “residual” for each year that I mentioned.

        You claim to know the reason for the residual.
        Bart claims another reason for the residual.

        I say the carbon cycle system is constantly moving towards an equilibrium which is constantly changing, and that is why there is a seasonal variation which provides a residual each year. If so then the cause of the residual is whatever has provided an underlying alteration to the equilibrium value. The anthropogenic CO2 emission may be the cause of that underlying alteration, but it is much more likely that the cause is the intermittent warming from the Little Ice Age that has been happening for centuries. The ~5 decade delay of the atmospheric CO2 concentration rise behind the global temperature rise is not surprising.

        All your data agrees with my understanding of the matter.

        Richard:

      • afonzarerelli,

        Indeed there is no difference in reaction of the sinks between human emissions and volcanic emissions. Both are one-way additions and both must be removed by the same mechanisms (the difference between ocean/vegetation releases and uptakes).

        Thus one need to know what the differences are in quantity and other criteria.
        Based on the δ13C levels (near all volcanic δ13C levels are above atmosphere) and SO2/CO2 measurements around the most active volcanoes, global volcanic emissions are about 1% of human emissions.
        Then we have rock weathering which adds some CO2, but that too is minimal compared to human emissions.

        The main natural in/out fluxes, oceans and the biosphere are bidirectional and are slightly more sink than source… Even if vegetation is a temporary source during an El Niño, over periods longer that 3 years, always a net sink…

      • Richard:

        If so then the cause of the residual is whatever has provided an underlying alteration to the equilibrium value.

        The proven T-CO2 relationship between oceans and atmosphere is about 16 ppmv/K over the past 800,000 years in ice cores and match the same values as for Henry’s law, as observed in over 3 million seawater samples.

        For a temperature change of ~0.8 K (Moberg, Esper,…) since the LIA, that means 13 ppmv extra since the LIA, not the 110 ppmv (or 90 ppmv since Mauna Loa started) as observed…

      • Ferdinand:

        I know you claim the ice cores provide direct indications of past atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

        And you know that I know the ice cores provide misleading indications of past atmospheric CO2 concentration.

        Richard

      • Richard,

        And you know that I know the ice cores provide misleading indications of past atmospheric CO2 concentration.

        Richard, I know that your opinion about the (non) accuracy of ice cores is based on the essay of the late Dr. Jaworowski, but about every point of that essay from 1992 was refuted by the work of Etheridge e.a. on three ice cores at Law Dome, published in 1996. Still Jaworowski repeated the same remarks years after the work of Etheridge.
        Dr. Jaworowski was a great researcher on radio-isotopes in ice, but as far as I know never performed any research on CO2 in ice cores. Moreover, he blundered by accusing Neftel of fraud, while looking up the wrong column (ice age i.s.o. gas age) in Neftel’s table and he assumes CO2 can migrate from low levels inside the ice cores to high levels outside…

        Sorry, but your opinion on the value of ice core CO2 levels is on shaky grounds.

        Further, Henry’s law gives 290 ppmv for the current average ocean temperature, not 400 ppmv…

      • Ferdinand:

        You say

        Richard, I know that your opinion about the (non) accuracy of ice cores is based on the essay of the late Dr. Jaworowski, but about every point of that essay from 1992 was refuted by the work of Etheridge e.a. on three ice cores at Law Dome, published in 1996.

        NO! My knowledge of ice cores was acquired by my decades of collaboration with Zeb. His health had declined to prevent him attending the first Heartland climate conference so he asked me to present his paper there for him because he trusted my knowledge of his work. He expressed his satisfaction when he saw the video of my presentation of his paper.

        I have not had any communications with Etheridge about his very poor paper, but I know you accept the grossly misleading indications of ice core data because it suits your purposes.

        Richard

      • Ferdinand:

        Henry’s Law applies to equilibrium conditions. Please get back to me when the carbon cycle is in equilibrium.

        Richard

    • The existence and stoichiometry of the methane clathrates when oxidised throws an over sized spanner into the basic assumptions of the approach of counting the carbon w.r.t. oxygen. I wouldn’t trust it. It’s probably just another case of being able to fit both extremes within the error-bars/uncertainty-limits.

    • richardscourtney I am not really interested in your selective quoting game, but to set the record straight: Yes you did write

      You are ignoring that almost all the carbon flowing in the carbon cycle is in the deep ocean and nobody knows the rates of exchange of this carbon with ocean surface layer and thus to other parts of the carbon cycle.

      but I also wrote

      Likewise as a direct consequence of conservation of mass, the fact that atmospheric CO2 is rising more slowly than the rate of anthropogenic emissions tells us unequivocally that the natural environment is a net sink of carbon from the atmosphere and is opposing the rise, rather than causing it, and we do not need to know all of the individual fluxes to know that.

      [emphasis mine]

      so I did address that point by explaining (by analogy) why we don’t need to know about the detailed internal flows in the carbon cycle to know that the natural environment is a net carbon sink. You may not understand that argument, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t address your point. Sorry, if the discussion has descended into that sort of shabby rhetorical games, I have better things to do.

      • dikranmarsupial:

        I have noticed your comment out of the subthread. Making such a post out of subthread is a dirty trick intended to provide a post that remains unanswered, but I have noticed it so I am answering it.

        Your out of subthread post is daft because I have repeatedly refuted the untrue assertion it makes. My most recent direct rebuttal of it in this thread is hereand includes

        All that reply does is to again ignore that almost all the carbon flowing in the carbon cycle is in the deep ocean and nobody knows the rates of exchange of this carbon with ocean surface layer and thus to other parts of the carbon cycle. Therefore,
        YOU ARE WRONG when you say you it is possible to discern that “nature is opposing, rather than causing the rise.”

        And the rest of your post ignores that I pointed out your analogies are not appropriate.

        Richard

      • richardscourtney wrote

        I have noticed your comment out of the subthread. Making such a post out of subthread is a dirty trick intended to provide a post that remains unanswered

        no, it was an error (partly caused by the blog host software which makes it easy to miss the reply link when a sub-thread gets very long). Putting it down to a “dirty trick” is just more rhetoric.

        You do not refute the argument, you just repeat the assertion that it is incorrect. I have already explained why we don’t need to know the internal fluxes in the carbon cycle to know that the natural environment is a net carbon sink, it is a matter of simple algebra that has been explained repeatedly here on WUWT. Hint in algebra, variables are used to represent unknowns.

        So if I explain why we don’t need to know about the internal fluxes to know the natural environment is a net sink, you can’t refute that conclusion by pointing out that we don’t know the internal fluxes, you just demonstrate that you haven’t understood the argument.

      • dikranmarsupial:

        You assert

        So if I explain why we don’t need to know about the internal fluxes to know the natural environment is a net sink, you can’t refute that conclusion by pointing out that we don’t know the internal fluxes, you just demonstrate that you haven’t understood the argument.

        SAY WHAT!?
        Above I have repeatedly pointed out to you

        You are ignoring that almost all the carbon flowing in the carbon cycle is in the deep ocean and nobody knows the rates of exchange of this carbon with ocean surface layer and thus to other parts of the carbon cycle. Any change of the exchange rate of carbon between deep ocean and ocean surface layer must alter the amount of CO2 available to the atmosphere.

        What part of
        “Any change of the exchange rate of carbon between deep ocean and ocean surface layer must alter the amount of CO2 available to the atmosphere”
        do you not understand?

        My telling you that (repeatedly) shows that I understand your assertion (n.b. it is NOT an “argument”) sufficiently for me to have utterly and completely refuted it.

        Your real problem is your adoption of silly use of inappropriate accounting analogies. Those analogies assume a ‘balance’ of sources and sinks has some meaning and they are NOT appropriate because no such balance exists (or if it does then it is different now from it was yesterday and different from what it will be tomorrow). As I said (above) to Nick Stokes when he tried to support your daft assertions

        And it is NOT true that “DM is quite right in saying that the net movement was of CO2 leaving the air”. That is only true for half of each year and the net movement is of CO2 joining the air during the other half of each year. See here.

        In reality the carbon cycle system is moving towards equilibrium that it never achieves because the equilibrium value is constantly changing. That is why there is seasonal variation of atmospheric CO2 concentration which provides a residual which is the annual rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration. And it is very likely that atmospheric CO2 concentration would be the same (n.b. THE SAME) if the anthropogenic CO2 emission were absent.

        Richard

      • richardscourtney writes

        SAY WHAT!?
        Above I have repeatedly pointed out to you

        You are ignoring that almost all the carbon flowing in the carbon cycle is in the deep ocean and nobody knows the rates of exchange of this carbon with ocean surface layer and thus to other parts of the carbon cycle. Any change of the exchange rate of carbon between deep ocean and ocean surface layer must alter the amount of CO2 available to the atmosphere.

        yes, and I have repeatedly explained to you why you don’t need to know those fluxes in order to know that the natural environment is a net carbon sink, but you ignore that explanation and simply repeat that we don’t know the internal fluxes. As you have just done yet again.

        My telling you that (repeatedly) shows that I understand your assertion (n.b. it is NOT an “argument”) sufficiently for me to have utterly and completely refuted it.

        No, it doesn’t show that. You can find the mass balance argument in the first IPCC report, the equation on which it is based is used in papers on the carbon budget, written by scientists who have worked on this for decades. It may be that they are all wrong and you are right, but I doubt it. If you like we could go through the argument step by step (again) and you can point out the error when you spot it. Here is the first:

        Step 1:

        The carbon cycle obeys conservation of mass, so an carbon emitted into the atmosphere that isn’t taken out of the atmosphere, remains in the atmosphere, which we can write as

        DC = Ea + En – Un

        where DC is the change in atmospheric CO2 in a given year (in GtC), Ea is emissions from anthropogenic sources, En is emissions from all natural sources (whatever they may be) and Un is uptake by natural sinks (technically there is also a Ua, but uptake of carbon by anthropgenic sinks is essentially zero as we are doing no significant amounts of carbon capture and storage). In this case Ea + En is the “carbon emitted into the atmosphere”, Un is the “carbon that is taken out of the atmosphere” and DC is the carbon that “remains in the atmosphere”.

        Do you agree with that so far? Yes or no?

      • Richard:

        You are ignoring that almost all the carbon flowing in the carbon cycle is in the deep ocean and nobody knows the rates of exchange of this carbon with ocean surface layer and thus to other parts of the carbon cycle.

        Richard, I have the impression that you are not aware of the latest research about CO2 fluxes. While rough estimates, the main fluxes are known, thanks to 13C/12C changes, 14C (bomb spike) decay rates, oxygen changes, etc.
        The main fluxes are:
        Ocean surface (seasonal): ~50 GtC in and out.
        Biosphere (seasonal): ~60 GtC out and in (countercurrent with ocean surface).
        Deep oceans (continuous between upwelling waters and sinks): ~40 GtC/year.

        The latter is known from the fast decay rate of the 1945-1960 atomic bomb tests and independently from the “thinning” of the δ13C “fingerprint” by the deep ocean-atmosphere exchanges. Thus the deep ocean – atmosphere exchanges are about 40 GtC from the total 150 GtC exchanges between the different reservoirs.

        In reality the carbon cycle system is moving towards equilibrium that it never achieves because the equilibrium value is constantly changing.

        Yes, but not outside what Henry’s law dictates: globally 5 ppmv/K over the seasons, as for oceans and biosphere the reactions are opposite to each other. 16 ppmv/K over the very long term, where the deep oceans play a role.

        And it is very likely that atmospheric CO2 concentration would be the same (n.b. THE SAME) if the anthropogenic CO2 emission were absent.

        That is physically impossible, as we are now 110 ppmv above the steady state (dynamic equilibrium) for the current average ocean surface temperature. Thus if we stop all emissions today, next year the CO2 levels will drop with over 2 ppmv, slowly decreasing until steady state is reached again, superposed by the year by year and seasonal wiggles.

      • Ferdinand:

        Somebody having made “rough estimates” of the fluxes does NOT mean the fluxes are known.

        Richard

      • dikranmarsupial:

        NO! I DO NOT AGREE THAT NONSENSE.

        For a start, stick in a bloody great X for the unknown variation of contribution from the deep ocean.

        Richard

      • richardscourtney wrote

        For a start, stick in a bloody great X for the unknown variation of contribution from the deep ocean.

        no, that X would be part of En which is emissions of carbon into the atmosphere from ALL natural sources, whatever processes are involved. In algebra we often use symbols to represent unknowns, and the conclusions of the mass balance analysis (as we will see later) do not depend on us knowing the numerical value of En, so that objection is irrelevant and demonstrates that you have not yet properly understood the mass balance argument.

        So now that I have clarified that En includes the “unknown variation of contribution from the deep ocean”, do you agree? yes or no.

      • Richard,

        If you only accept CO2 data which are accurate to within one gram per year, we will never “know” anything.

        The seasonal CO2 fluxes between ocean surface and biosphere with the atmosphere are known to within +/- 25%. From http://science.sciencemag.org/content/287/5462/2467

        Comparison with measurements of δ13CO2 implies an isotopic flux of 89 ± 21 gigatons of carbon per mil per year

        The “thinning” of the δ13C level of human CO2 gives 40 GtC +/- 5 GtC as deep ocean – atmosphere exchange or an error range of +/- 12.5%. Not bad for natural flux estimates.

        More important, the year by year natural variability in net sink rate is not more than +/- 3 GtC/year, surprisingly small for ~150 GtC CO2 going in and out over a year. That includes the Pinatubo eruption and the 1998 El Niño.

        As over a period of 60 years the natural variablity in net sink rate is that small, I suppose that the natural variability of the individual fluxes is not really large, or it must be that a common cause (temperature) has an opposite effect on different fluxes (as is the case for seasonal fluxes), which suppresses natural variability.

  20. Ronald R. Cooke
    The vast majority of your values used above to balance your carbon cycle are ESTIMATES. This is not fact, or real data. The true values are not known. And this being a sceptic site, there should be more scepticism, especially when the word estimates is used. Treat estimates with the same contempt as some do with Models. Both equal the same outcome – uncertainty.

    The ocean and the biospheres simply take it all up. Where is the evidence for your claims – there is nothing substantive available. Yet everybody goes along with it.

    In 1890 it took 1Gt to raise the atmospheric CO2 1ppm / decade. From 1970 to present it takes near 5 Gt to achieve the same. If the sinks are so rapacious, then the comparatively miniscule human emissions since the start of the industrial revolution (IR) should not be visible in the atmospheric count. But they are, and were evident from the start of the IR. As soon as emissions were made, there it was.

    The fact that atmospheric CO2 increases were visible and recorded from start of the Industrial Revolution, clearly signals that the CO2 sinks were, and are still not absorbers of human emissions.

    The increase in atmospheric values from the start of the IR, coupled to the increasing volume of human emissions required to raise the annual residual CO2 value (right up through the vertical column to >100km), tells me that the biospheres were and are still not taking up human emissions.

    Human emissions are <5% of the total carbon cycle, and yet the increased value is so pronounced on the atmospheric volume, and always has been. Why?

    There is no account or any consideration by any individual, of troposphere CO2 losses, despite excellent data identifying the increasing values and a seasonal cycle at altitudes of 80, 90 and 100km and above. Here it is being recorded as it passes through. Also, look at the CO2 curves at the sampling stations above 45N, such as Cold Bay and Ireland etc. They show a very rapid rise in CO2 from September, but virtually no atmospheric accumulation for December to April. CO2 is not accumulating in the top half of the NH at the time of highest emissions. Where is it going – It is going into the Arctic region and south to the equator upwelling.

    If human emissions are so small, (much smaller 200 years ago) and yet they were and still are immediately visible in the atmospheric signal, the sinks are not taking it up. What the Mauna Loa site records during its cycle between November and April is that CO2 that remains in the troposphere.

    Chart of increased seasonal values at 80, 90 and 100km. The most ignored chart on the planet.

    • “In 1890 it took 1Gt to raise the atmospheric CO2 1ppm / decade. “
      Absolutely wrong. 1ppm CO2 contains 2.13 Gton C.

      “The ocean and the biospheres simply take it all up.”
      yet, later
      “the CO2 sinks were, and are still not absorbers of human emissions”
      In fact, they obviously haven’t taken it all up. We’ve gone from 280 ppm to over 400. But they have taken up some. Only half of total emissions are still in the air.

      • Stokes,

        “Only half of total emissions are still in the air.”

        You are not earning your salary today.

        Every year the atmosphere gains and loses almost 20x as much CO2 as humans emit. How could any of it from 1775, when Watts completed his steam engine beginning the Industrial Revolution, still be in the atmosphere? Maybe a molecule or 2 million, but the Vast Majority of it is Gone!

      • Every few months you gain and lose more than your entire body mass. After a year or so the Vast Majority of you is gone. But it doesn’t seem any different, does it?

      • Stokes,

        Your reply, as usual, is completely ridiculous. My amazing corpus is no analog for the Earth’s Atmosphere. Water is not CO2. Inventory in the alimentary canal is not CO2. What are you talking about?

      • Michael Moon,

        Nick means that only half of human CO2 as mass remains in the atmosphere, not the original low-13C CO2 molecules emitted by humans. That is because every year some 20% of all CO2 in the atmosphere is exchanged with CO2 from other reservoirs.
        That exchange is fast with the ocean surface and most of vegetation, but slower with more permanent storage in vegetation and with the deep oceans. In the latter case, what sinks in the deep oceans only returns many centuries later.

        Thus in analogy with your body: few of the original molecules are left after a few months, but start to eat one piece of bread extra every meal and look what happens with your weight…

    • Due to water vapor as well as CO2, the atmosphere is almost totally opaque with respect to the long wave IR ranges absorbed by CO2. If fact, the CO2 Observatory must actively measure the tops of CO2 columns (ordinary air) by radiosonde to get CO2 telemetry, an inseparable distance and density measurement of the CO2 cloud from the satellite. Then, the ppv ratio is obtained using O2 opacity that is passively measured from the ground, creating a meaningless apples to oranges comparison.

      Because of warmer ocean temperatures, the atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 must also have increased to compensate,

      • jonesingforozone:

        Because of warmer ocean temperatures, the atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 must also have increased to compensate

        Yes, but not more than 16 ppmv/K, as that is the increase of pCO2 in the ocean surface for seawater. Thus maximum 13 ppmv since the LIA. Not 110 ppmv…

      • Yes, the atmosphere already almost completely absorbs CO2 long wave radiation, so another 16ppmv won’t make any difference, will it? Only the most arid regions of the earth would arguably experience a difference from increased CO2, such as the Atacama desert which gets very cold at night due to a lack of moisture.

  21. It’s the Sun, Dummies !! The Sun Drives the Hydrologic Cycle, The Carbon Cycle and the Climate Cycles !!

  22. Ronald R. Cooke:

    You say of your carbon cycle model

    The Annual Net Increase of global atmospheric CO2 is ~ .55% in our scenario for 2015. This percentage is approximately the same as the average annual mean of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide observed by NOAA ESRL at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii over the last 14 years ( ~ .54 % 2000 – 2014). A contraction of economic activity in future years will decrease man-made CO2 emissions.

    As we have shown: chemical decomposition, photosynthesis, and absorption eventually remove man-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It’s all a natural process.

    I draw attention to one of our 2005 papers
    (ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) )

    Our cited paper provides six models of the carbon cycle system. There are three basic models and they each assume a single mechanism dominates the cabon cycle system. In each basic model it is assumed that
    1. the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is purely natural
    and
    2. there is a significant anthropogenic contribution to the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    Thus we provided six models.

    Each of the models in that 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 (i.e. the Bern Model) to agree with the empirical data. For each year each of our models correctly predicts the atmospheric CO2 concentration measured at Mauna Loa to within the stated inherent error of the measurement.

    The superior performance of each of our models over the IPCC’s Bern Model results from our modelling assumption. The Bern Model uses the assumption of anthropogenic CO2 emissions being in excess of what nature can sequester (which is now refuted by the OCO-2 data). Our models assume something has altered the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle system.

    Some processes of the carbon cycle system are very slow with rate constants of years and decades. Hence, the system takes decades to fully adjust to a new equilibrium. The observed rise in atmospheric CO2 is easily modelled as being continuing slow adjustment towards an altered equilibrium.

    This raises the question as to what may have altered the equilibrium of the carbon cycle.

    One possibility is the anthropogenic CO2 emission. In our models the short term sequestration processes can easily adapt to sequester the anthropogenic emission in a year (which is now confirmed by the OCO-2 data). But, according to our models, the total emission of that year affects the equilibrium state of the entire system with resulting rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration as is observed. This possibility is real but unlikely.

    Natural factors are more likely to have caused the alteration to the equilibrium of the carbon cycle system. Of these, the most likely cause is the centuries-long rise in global temperature which is recovery from the Little Ice Age.

    As mentioned above, each of the models in our paper matches the available empirical data without use of any ‘fiddle-factor’. But 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. Also our 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. Data that only fits the true cause would be evidence of the true cause. But the above findings demonstrate that there is no data that only fits either an anthropogenic or a natural cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Hence, the only factual statements that can be made on the true cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration are

    (a) the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration may have an anthropogenic cause, or a natural cause, or some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes,

    but

    (b) there is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a mostly anthropogenic cause or a mostly natural cause.

    Hence, using the available data it cannot be known what if any effect altering the anthropogenic emission of CO2 will have on the future atmospheric CO2 concentration. This finding agrees with the statement in Chapter 2 from Working Group 3 in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (2001) that says; “no systematic analysis has published on the relationship between mitigation and baseline scenarios”.

    Richard

    Footnote
    I gave a presentation of the findings of our cited paper at the first Heartland Climate Conference and this is a video of my provision of that presentation.

  23. This is another attempt to provide my post that vanished. RSC

    Ronald R. Cooke:

    You say of your carbon cycle model

    The Annual Net Increase of global atmospheric CO2 is ~ .55% in our scenario for 2015. This percentage is approximately the same as the average annual mean of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide observed by NOAA ESRL at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii over the last 14 years ( ~ .54 % 2000 – 2014). A contraction of economic activity in future years will decrease man-made CO2 emissions.

    As we have shown: chemical decomposition, photosynthesis, and absorption eventually remove man-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It’s all a natural process.

    I draw attention to one of our 2005 papers
    (ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) )

    Our cited paper provides six models of the carbon cycle system. There are three basic models and they each assume a single mechanism dominates the cabon cycle system. In each basic model it is assumed that
    1. the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is purely natural
    and
    2. there is a significant anthropogenic contribution to the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    Thus we provided six models.

    Each of the models in that 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 (i.e. the Bern Model) to agree with the empirical data. For each year each of our models correctly predicts the atmospheric CO2 concentration measured at Mauna Loa to within the stated inherent error of the measurement.

    The superior performance of each of our models over the IPCC’s Bern Model results from our modelling assumption. The Bern Model uses the assumption of anthropogenic CO2 emissions being in excess of what nature can sequester (which is now refuted by the OCO-2 data). Our models assume something has altered the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle system.

    Some processes of the carbon cycle system are very slow with rate constants of years and decades. Hence, the system takes decades to fully adjust to a new equilibrium. The observed rise in atmospheric CO2 is easily modelled as being continuing slow adjustment towards an altered equilibrium.

    This raises the question as to what may have altered the equilibrium of the carbon cycle.

    One possibility is the anthropogenic CO2 emission. In our models the short term sequestration processes can easily adapt to sequester the anthropogenic emission in a year (which is now confirmed by the OCO-2 data). But, according to our models, the total emission of that year affects the equilibrium state of the entire system with resulting rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration as is observed. This possibility is real but unlikely.

    Natural factors are more likely to have caused the alteration to the equilibrium of the carbon cycle system. Of these, the most likely cause is the centuries-long rise in global temperature which is recovery from the Little Ice Age.

    As mentioned above, each of the models in our paper matches the available empirical data without use of any ‘fiddle-factor’. But 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. Also our 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. Data that only fits the true cause would be evidence of the true cause. But the above findings demonstrate that there is no data that only fits either an anthropogenic or a natural cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Hence, the only factual statements that can be made on the true cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration are

    (a) the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration may have an anthropogenic cause, or a natural cause, or some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes,

    but

    (b) there is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a mostly anthropogenic cause or a mostly natural cause.

    Hence, using the available data it cannot be known what if any effect altering the anthropogenic emission of CO2 will have on the future atmospheric CO2 concentration. This finding agrees with the statement in Chapter 2 from Working Group 3 in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (2001) that says; “no systematic analysis has published on the relationship between mitigation and baseline scenarios”.

    Richard

    Footnote
    I gave a presentation of the findings of our cited paper at the first Heartland Climate Conference and this is a video of my provision of that presentation.

    • Richard, FYI, you tend to make very long and detailed posts, usually with many links. The wordpress SPAM filter attunes to that…especially with lots of links and lots of words.

      • AW:

        Thankyou for that info.

        However, I am not clear how I could have shortened e.g. the post in this case without losing necessary explanation.

        Richard

  24. Mods:

    I have twice tried to make a post but it vanished both times.

    Please look in the ‘bin’ and if the posts are there then please retrieve the first of them. If they are not there then please be so kind as to let me know so I can try to post it again.

    Thanking you in advance for your trouble

    Richard

  25. How exactly have these gigantic masses been measured? Reference to the original source will do, thanks.

    Or let me guess: there is none, because they are not measured at all. They are calculated from the CO2 measurements next to the most active volcanic region known. Then CO2 surplus is pinned on The Man, because the Earth was created perfect by Gaia. Amen. Did I get this right?

    • jaakko,

      They are estimates, but not only based on CO2 measurements, also on isotopes (δ13C) and oxygen changes. CO2 fluxes between oceans and atmosphere are mostly a matter of solubility with temperature and a small parallel change in δ13C, while CO2 fluxes between atmosphere and vegetation give a huge, opposite change in δ13C and set O2 free or reverse…

      • Carbon isotopes? Limestone (CaCO3) e.g. in Seven Sisters is presumed to be the most common type of stone on Earth. Quite unlike granite, it erodes easily. Contact with water is enough, no active volcano is required. What’s the difference between carbon isotopes in CaCo3 and the evil lithospheric hydrocarbon?

        The reason for my question: although precision of tritium measurements with liquid scintillation counting was satisfactory, accuracy was more problematic, because of difficulty to ascertain the tritium source. The measurements had to be done under controlled conditions for this reason. I’m looking forward to discovering how Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Apocalypse scientists measure the entire planet.

      • jaakko,

        Many volcanic emissions are measured as CO2/SO2 ratio in the plume and as SO2 is more easy to measure, because not in a bulk with SO2 from other sources (as is the case for CO2), it is easier to calculate the CO2 emissions.
        Further, most inorganic CO2 has a δ13C level around zero and even deep magma volcanoes (which don’t recycle CO2 from carbonate deposits) have δ13C levels above the atmosphere.
        Thus any CO2 from the oceans, rock weathering,… would increase the δ13C in the atmosphere, while we see a firm decrease.
        The fluxes between vegetation and atmosphere are positive for δ13C and O2 when CO2 is absorbed and negative when CO2 is released by burning, decay or digestion. In balance, the biosphere is a net sink for CO2. Thus not the cause of the CO2 increase or δ13C decline…

        Sampling in the bulk of the atmosphere gives near-global levels for CO2, O2, CH4 and other well mixed gases, except for seasonal changes and continuous emissions, which need time to spread over the globe. Even these differences are within a few % of full scale…

        See for some background:
        http://science.sciencemag.org/content/287/5462/2467
        and
        http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf

  26. You forgot volcanoes.

    And they are important for this main reason: change the ocean chemistry and you change the equilibrium between c02 within subsurface oceanic volcanic rocks (mostly carbonate) and c02 dissolved in the surrounding seawater. (Note volcanic activity-emitting c02 varies greatly over geological time, possibly causing mass extinctions, but this is not relevant to the current, more or less consistent volcanic output of c02).

    If you think volcanoes don’t matter much, note that some scientists think nearly all the world’s water that formed the oceans came originally from solidifying magma, early in earth history (not comets). When magma cools, it expels water and c02. The interplay between volcanic rocks containing vast amounts of c02 mainly in the form of carbonate and the surrounding seawater is likely a major buffer to any changes in c02 within the ocean, meaning it is very likely that oceans do not change their ph much over time.

    • thingadonta:

      You say

      You forgot volcanoes.

      And they are important for this main reason: change the ocean chemistry and you change the equilibrium between c02 within subsurface oceanic volcanic rocks (mostly carbonate) and c02 dissolved in the surrounding seawater.

      Yes! Please note that volcanoes release sulphur ions that affect the pH of sea water and are not affected by the carbonate buffer.

      A change to the average sea surface pH of an unobservably small 0.1 would have altered the equilibrium between air and ocean surface to cause a change of atmospheric CO2 concentration greater than that claimed to have happened since the industrial revolution.

      Richard

      • Richard,

        The small pH change is only measurable in recent years in the surface, not in the deep oceans.

        In theory, such a decrease in pH may come from deepsea volcanic SO2, but in that case, CO2 would be expelled and DIC (the sum of all inorganic carbon derivatives) in seawater would decrease. In this case the longer time series show an increase of DIC with decreasing pH. Thus CO2 enters the oceans from the atmosphere, not reverse.

        See here for Bermuda:
        http://www.biogeosciences.net/9/2509/2012/bg-9-2509-2012.pdf

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:

        Yes, as you say, the small pH change has only been capable of measurement recently so its change over decades and centuries is not known. Also, in the very few places where ocean pH been measured the daily variations are much greater than the putative change in average pH of 0.1.

        Measurements of oceanic carbon contents are also too sparse for them to be meaningful.

        Richard

  27. Reference – the essay/blog writer – “The carbon dioxide cycle Please, people; don’t knock it! This was a basis for biology and such studies from over 60 years ago and is upheld in the basis of much more modern publications. The overall benefits of CO2 are well established, calcification within the oceans are well apparent (white cliffs wherever) and land recovery and recession affecting sea level readings are well established (Scotland inland rising, Kent (S.E.coastal) sinking.
    Acidity more or less balanced, even beyond changes within 24 hr periods in certain stretches.
    What the essay indicates is a straightforward description of plus and minus effects leveling the balance of nature. Yes, ozone layer has an effect on chemical structure breakdown but the hoo-ha has largely gone away and cries of calamity are less virile.
    O.K. accurate measurement and other detailed features (plankton effect, algal blooms, deforestation) would be difficult to measure with any accuracy or counter result but the essay is good, basic stuff and should be enough to introduce into the education system.
    Most commentaries within WUWT info have good, grounded scientific basis and yet attempts to shoot the messenger still prevail. Let’s build on the knowledge to see how the strength of the original “argument” can be supported. That way, any supposed failings can be gathered and maintained as a separate review for open discussion. They may also highlight:- the Calvin Cycle, the Nitrogen Cycle, the Evaporative Cycle and enable comparison in a review of each (and/or multiple) effects within various Holocene approaches or tails.
    Positioning of Planetary Gravitational bodies, the Sun relationship within such gravitational mass position, the various orbit effects for the Earth in relation to warming and cooling periods and so on.

    Come on folks! The 310 million users within this site should be able to overcome Political Prophets of Doom.

    • ChuckWright,

      The observed sink rate of any CO2 above steady state (dynamic equilibrium) between atmosphere and oceans (~290 ppmv for the current average ocean surface temperature) is ~51 years or a half life time of ~35 years.

      Thus the current 400 ppmv would drop to 345 ppmv in 35 years, 312 ppmv in 70 years,… until ~290 ppmv is reached about the same as in previous interglacials.

      Better keep it high for plant life…

      • Pismo Donzi,

        The net sink rate is what is measured in the past 60 years, surprisingly linear in ratio to the extra CO2 pressure in the atmosphere above the equilibrium (“steady state”) between atmosphere and ocean surface for the current average ocean surface temperature per Henry’s law…

      • Henry’s Law has rarely applied to natural waters of different salinities and currants moving from cold poles through warm equatorial water’s. Because they’re not under lab conditions. Pour a cold soda water and in time it as it warms loses its carbonation, raise the temperature and it will all be gone. Add electrolytes and the bond is harder to break. Oceans are not homogenized bodies of water. Making Henry’s Law is a farce when used on them.

      • People from both sides of the aisle often seem quite happy to describe certain regional and temporal carbon sinks and sources as being influenced by the thermodynamics of photosynthesis and other biochemistry, yet seem equally happy to ignore the effect of carbonic anhydrase on the rate constant where it presents in the chemical monolayer covering most of the water surface of the planet. Perhaps if biochemistry only increased the rate constant by a factor of two over the uncatalysed rate constant then it might get some attention because the actual ratio being closer to tens of millions is simply too big to sink in.

        Carbonic anhydrase activity also catalyses the ‘inorganic’ exchange driven by temperature changes. A significant question is: “Do many observations that often appear to follow Henry’s law do so because of carbonic anhydrase activity, or in spite of carbonic anhydrase activity?

      • “The observed sink rate…”

        This is a static interpretation of a dynamic system. It does not tell us what nature is doing on its own, only what is happening with the addition of anthropogenic input, which itself induces sink activity. A static analysis is not sufficient for determining attribution from such an observation.

        This is the pseudo-mass balance argument. It appeals to the naive, but it has no bearing on the question of attribution.

      • Net sink rates 1959-2012:

        Assuming a small dependency of CO2 at ~16 ppmv/K temperature change of the sea surface temperature:
        In 1959: ΔpCO2(atm-ocean): 25 ppmv; net sink rate: 0.5 ppmv/year; e-fold decay rate ~50 years.
        In1988: ΔpCO2: 60 ppmv; net sink rate: 1.13 ppmv/year; decay rate 53 years.
        In 2012: ΔpCO2:110 ppmv; net sink rate: 2.15 ppmv/year; decay rate 51.2 years.

        In reverse calculation: take the 1988-1959 difference or the 2012-1959 difference in net sink rate and calculate the equilibrium where the net sink rate is zero. Both give 280-290 ppmv.

        Looks very linear to me, widely within the borders of accuracy of the emission inventories and natural sink capacity variability, while that includes the full dynamics of the (deep) ocean-atmosphere interchanges.

      • Well, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quakes like a [duck], it probably is a duck.

        If a CO2 removal process reacts quite linear to an increase in the atmosphere and two separate backcalculations show the same common steady state, which not by coincidence is the same as what Henry’s law predicts, confirmed by the ice cores CO2/T ratio over the past 800,000 years, then there is a high probability that it is a linear process, no matter the dynamics of the ocean-atmosphere system…

    • A static analysis is not sufficient for determining attribution from such an observation.

      True. More colorfully put:

      A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. ” — Dune First Law of Mentat

    • Michael Hart,
      The full chemical train between free CO2, H2CO3, HCO3- and CO3– is quite fast in seawater: the exchanges in the ocean surface follow changes in the atmosphere (or reverse) with a tau of less than a year. That is not the limiting factor. The limiting factor is the drop in pH due to more CO2 in seawater for an increase in the atmosphere. That pushes the equilibria back to free CO2. The net result is that per Henry’s law, a 100% increase of CO2 in the atmosphere gives a 100% increase of free CO2 in the ocean surface, for seawater and fresh water alike, but only a 10% increase in total inorganic carbon (DIC) in the sea surface (that is the Revelle factor).
      The reason: in fresh water free CO2 is ~99% of all carbon species, in seawater it is only 1%, 90% is bicarbonate and 9% is carbonate. If free CO2 doubles, it gets 2% of DIC, at the cost of mainly carbonate…
      See the Bjerrum plot at:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjerrum_plot

      Despite the saturation of the ocean surface (NOT the deep oceans) due to buffer chemistry, seawater does absorb about 10 times more CO2 than fresh water for the same CO2 pressure increase in the atmosphere.

  28. The author says: “All oil, natural gas and coal are derived from buried organic matter which has been compressed and heated over millions of years.”

    How do we explain methane on Titan if organic matter is required?

  29. Why reinvent the wheel? IPCC AR5 already covered the carbon cycle in figure and table 6.1. Atmospheric carbon (CO2) went from about 1.3 to 1.8 percent between 1750 and 2011. The uncertainty in the cycle numbers are on the order of +/- 3%.

    Nothing but a great big WAG. Nobody can say with certainty or precision where the atmospheric CO2 comes from, where it goes and which of multiple sources is responsible.

  30. Integrating measured isotope ratios into the supposed fluxes provides interesting constraints on the Carbon cycle. All of the interactions with the atmosphere except vegetation result in a reduction of atmospheric per mil 13C. The isotopic composition of atmospheric Carbon (-8 PDB) is well known and has decreased from -6.5 PDB at the industrial revolution, a rate of about -.01 per year. More recently the rate of decrease has been measured at -.016. This matches the human input well, but unfortunately, this rate of decrease cannot be replicated without a large input of 13C; about 300 “gigaton per mils”.

    http://geosciencebigpicture.com/2017/05/21/the-missing-13c/

    • Isotopes are just a giant handwavium SWAG. Better than tea leaves, but not by much.

      • Isotopes ratios are measures of masses, primarily protons and neutrons, in molecules and their constituent atoms. They are measured very accurately these days. You begin to sound like a flat earther if you deny the technology.

        Undeniably, the Carbon cycle is a WAG. Undeniably, errors are made in sampling locations and procedures for isotope measurements. Nothing is certain.

        We can throw up our hands and bow to Mecca, or press ahead with the best information we have.

        We need all the understanding we can muster to constrain the Carbon cycle. If it were a small deviation, the missing 13C would be a joke. The missing 13C is a larger factor than human input.

  31. Last year NASA published a study that indicated that the planet had greened by almost 14% between 1980 and 2010 as measured by satellites. The study estimated that over 70% of this greening was due to increased CO2. Presumably photosynthesis absorption would have increased also by 14% over the same (approx 55Gt) offset to some extent by more emissions from plant respiration and decay. One wonders if there is a self regulating mechanism at play here. More CO2 , more plants, more absorption of CO2.

  32. Chimp

    May 21, 2017 at 4:43 pm
    says

    Before cyanobacteria, Earth’s oceans were blood red, due to all the iron dissolved in them. Once oxygen became available, this iron rusted and settled to the bottom forming the red-banded ore deposits

    In a reducing atmosphere iron is in the form of Fe ++ ions. Fe++ is pale green not red.
    Iron as an element rarely occurs on Earth.
    Iron Fe does not rust in the ocean. Green Fe++ is oxidized to red Fe+++

  33. If it were not for the human factor, CO2 in the atmosphere would decline until a severe crisis occurred in the biosphere. That crisis would become an extinction. From the mass of detritus, fungi would run riot, releasing CO2 to reset the system. Alas, it is unlikely most of the present species would survive the event.

  34. For a comprehensive discussion of the terrestrial/marine carbon cycle, including reactive, conservative, and non-reactive dissolved species, pH stabilization in ocean waters, ocean acidification (it’s NOT CO2-related!), and operations of the critical Fundamental Equations of Life and Death, see my new book: “In Praise of Carbon: How We’ve Been Misled Into Believing that Carbon Dioxide Causes Climate Change” by David Bennett Laing on amazon.com.

  35. “In fact, all life on this planet is based on hydrocarbon compounds which include carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.”

    Shouldn’t “hydrocarbon” in the above sentence read instead “carbohydrate”?

    Hydrocarbons are compounds of hydrogen and carbon, while carbohydrates also contain oxygen. Consider the simple hydrocarbon methane (CH4) v. the simple carbohydrate glucose (C6H12O6), the sugar which photosynthesizers make from the precious CO2 in our air by combining it with H2O, while releasing the O2 we all need to live.

    Maybe a nitpick, but who wants nits?

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