Carbon ‘leak’ may have warmed the planet for 11,000 years, encouraging human civilization

How the Southern Ocean may explain Holocene warming

The oceans are the planet’s most important depository for atmospheric carbon dioxide on time scales of decades to millenia. But the process of locking away greenhouse gas is weakened by activity of the Southern Ocean, so an increase in its activity could explain the mysterious warmth of the past 11,000 years, an international team of researchers reports.

The warmth of that period was stabilized by a gradual rise in global carbon dioxide levels, so understanding the reason for that rise is of great interest, said Daniel Sigman, the Dusenbury Professor of Geological and Geophysical Sciences at Princeton.

Scientists have proposed various hypotheses for that carbon dioxide increase, but its ultimate cause has remained unknown. Now, an international collaboration led by scientists from Princeton and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry point to an increase in Southern Ocean upwelling. Their research appears in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

“We think we may have found the answer,” said Sigman. “Increased circulation in the Southern Ocean allowed carbon dioxide to leak into the atmosphere, working to warm the planet.”

Their findings about ocean changes could also have implications for predicting how global warming will affect ocean circulation and how much atmospheric carbon dioxide will rise due to fossil fuel burning.

For years, researchers have known that growth and sinking of phytoplankton pumps carbon dioxide deep into the ocean, a process often referred to as the “biological pump.” The biological pump is driven mostly by the low latitude ocean but is undone closer to the poles, where carbon dioxide is vented back to the atmosphere by the rapid exposure of deep waters to the surface, Sigman said. The worst offender is the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica. “We often refer to the Southern Ocean as a leak in the biological pump,” Sigman said.

Sigman and his colleagues have found that an increase in the Southern Ocean’s upwelling could be responsible for stabilizing the climate of the Holocene, the period reaching more than 10,000 years before the Industrial Revolution.

Most scientists agree that the Holocene’s warmth was critical to the development of human civilization. The Holocene was an “interglacial period,” one of the rare intervals of warm climate that have occurred over the ice age cycles of the last million years. The retreat of the glaciers opened a more expansive landscape for humans, and the higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere made for more productive agriculture, which allowed people to reduce their hunter-gathering activities and build permanent settlements.

The Holocene differed from other interglacial periods in several key ways, say the researchers. For one, its climate was unusually stable, without the major cooling trend that is typical of the other interglacials. Secondly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose about 20 parts per million (ppm), from 260 ppm in the early Holocene to 280 ppm in the late Holocene, whereas carbon dioxide was typically stable or declined over other interglacial periods.

For comparison, since the beginning of industrialization until now, the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has increased from 280 to more than 400 ppm as a consequence of burning fossil fuels.

“In this context, the 20 ppm increase observed during the Holocene may seem small,” said Sigman. “However, scientists think that this small but significant rise played a key role in preventing progressive cooling over the Holocene, which may have facilitated the development of complex human civilizations.”

In order to study the potential causes of the Holocene carbon dioxide rise, the researchers investigated three types of fossils from several different areas of the Southern Ocean: diatoms and foraminifers, both shelled microorganisms found in the oceans, and deep-sea corals.

Researchers in the Sigman Lab at Princeton University extracted trace amounts of nitrogen from fossils to create a model for the activity of the Southern Ocean during the Holocene, a warm period that began about 11,000 years ago, during which agriculture and human civilization flourished. The fossils they studied included (from left): planktonic foraminifer Globigerina bulloides, a centric diatom, and deep-sea coral Desmophyllum dianthus.
CREDIT From left: Ralf Schiebel, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry; Anja Studer, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry; Dann Blackwood, United States Geological Survey

From the nitrogen isotope ratios of the trace organic matter trapped in the mineral walls of these fossils, the scientists were able to reconstruct the evolution of nutrient concentrations in Southern Ocean surface waters over the past 10,000 years.

“The method we used to analyze the fossils is unique and provides a new way to study past changes in ocean conditions,” says Anja Studer, first author of the study, who performed the research while a graduate student working with Sigman’s lab.

The fossil-bound nitrogen isotope measurements indicate that during the Holocene, increasing amounts of water, rich in nutrients and carbon dioxide, welled up from the deep ocean to the surface of the Southern Ocean. While the cause for the increased upwelling is not yet clear, the most likely process appears to be a change in the “Roaring 40s,” a belt of eastward-blowing winds that encircle Antarctica.

Because of the enhanced Southern Ocean upwelling, the biological pump weakened over the Holocene, allowing more carbon dioxide to leak from the deep ocean into the atmosphere and thus possibly explaining the 20 ppm rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

“This process is allowing some of that deeply stored carbon dioxide to invade back to the atmosphere,” said Sigman. “We’re essentially punching holes in the membrane of the biological pump.”

The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the Holocene worked to counter the tendency for gradual cooling that dominated most previous interglacials. Thus, the new results suggest that the ocean may have been responsible for the “special stability” of the Holocene climate.

The same processes are at work today: The absorption of carbon by the ocean is slowing the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel burning, and the upwelling of the Southern Ocean is still allowing some of that carbon dioxide to vent back into the atmosphere.

“If the findings from the Holocene can be used to predict how Southern Ocean upwelling will change in the future, it will improve our ability to forecast changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and thus in global climate,” said Sigman.

###

“Increased nutrient supply to the Southern Ocean during the Holocene and its implications for the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 rise” by Anja Studer, Daniel Sigman, Alfredo Martínez-García, Lena Thöle, Elisabeth Miche, Samuel Jaccard, Jörg Lippold, Alain Mazaud, Xingchen Wang, Laura Robinson, Jess Adkins and Gerald Haug, was published in Nature Geoscience on July 30, 2018, DOI:10.1038/s41561-018-0191-8.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-018-0191-8

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101 thoughts on “Carbon ‘leak’ may have warmed the planet for 11,000 years, encouraging human civilization

  1. It all is based on the assumption that CO2 is a major player in the energy balance of the planet. It is not.

    • Indeed. They are still trying to pretend that CO2 is the control knob of climate and in a totally blinkered fashion are desperately trying to find any evidence to support that bias.

      All their discourse displays that bias : it’s a “leak” in the pump, the “main offender” is the southern ocean. “invade back to the atmosphere”, ” punching holes in the membrane of the biological pump.”

      OMG, even natural increases in CO2 are bad and described in negative language. Despite the fact they say it stabilized climate; increased plant growth and made expansion of all live n Earth and civilization possible, it is still BAD old CO2.

      It is nothing short of an obsession.

      It is still doubtful that the effect of the change from 280 to 400 ppmv is detectable above other natural variability. The effect of a tiny change of 20 ppmv over 10,000 ? You have to be joking.

      The science content seems to end with the gas analysis of the diatom deposits. The rest is worthless speculation and bias confirmation.

      • Exactly right. If not for those leaks it’s possible life could have been snuffed out completely in earlier glaciations. What plants can survive under 150ppm?

        • And without plants, what does the food chain eat??

          Green plants evolved when CO2 was in the 800-2000ppm range, and basically ate themselves out of house and home. I recall seeing somewhere that plants start dying at 184ppm (in fact lack of CO2 at higher altitudes is the limiting factor that keeps mountaintops bare).

          When the Industrial Revolution came along, we were about to dip below 200ppm. By producing a lot of CO2, we dodged the mass-extinction bullet.

      • ” … desperately trying to find any evidence to support that bias”

        They’ve been trying for decades and other than exculpatory evidence, all they have is rhetoric and insignificant trends in ambiguous anomalies, yet they refuse to abandon their reckless cause. This insanity is the unintended consequences of the ends justifies the means mentality that assumed actual scientific support would eventually be found and that resulted in the formation of the IPCC.

      • It is still doubtful that the effect of the change from 280 to 400 ppmv is detectable above other natural variability. The effect of a tiny change of 20 ppmv over 10,000 ? You have to be joking.

        I agree — this must be a joke. No “scientists” could actually be that stupid……

      • Yes, the claim that a 20 ppm rise caused the massive Holocene warming is beyond ridiculous.
        The Holocene warming was roughly ten times larger than the modern warming.

        Of course, the ice cores clearly show that CO2 rises occur *after* the initial warming. It is almost certainly caused by the warming oceans outgassing CO2. Did these clowns show that, during the Holocene, the CO2 rise occurred before the temperature rise? If not, then they probably ignored – or were ignorant of – ocean CO2 releases caused by warming. This definitely seems like yet more junk science intended to show that CO2 is the prime climatic control knob. Complete garbage.
        Chris

      • Indeed. This whole carbon dioxide thing suffers from a basic fallacy: just because you can measure a factor with greater accuracy than anything else doesn’t mean it has greater influence than anything else.

      • No runaway Global Warming even with 7,000 ppm of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere in the past.

        The current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is 410ppm. And if we burned all the fossil fuels available, humans couldn’t raise the concentrations of CO2 much above about 1,000 ppm, if that

        It’s laughable that the authors of this study give so much weight to 20 ppm of CO2. I guess when you are desperate you do desperate things.

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the theory of increasing man made CO2 is correct, judging by the observed temperatures rather than the hysterical predictions of the IPCC, if the supposed human induced element were extracted from the equation, would the observed temperatures be on the decline? In which case, AGW would appear to be resisting the planets natural inclination to decline into another ice age.

    https://drinkingwateradvisor.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/pages-from-christyjr_epa_2014_publiccomment.jpg

    • I don’t see even that much correlation. The level of atmospheric CO2 does almost NOTHING to global surface temperatures.

    • NS,
      In this study, CO2 made the oceans currents unstable and ‘leaky’!
      Quote: “…. carbon dioxide is vented back to the atmosphere by the rapid exposure of deep waters to the surface, Sigman said. The worst offender is the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica. “We often refer to the Southern Ocean as a leak in the biological pump,” Sigman said.”

      Sigman asserts the Southern Ocean releasing dissolved CO2 back into the atmosphere as CO2 gas is not a natural, normal process but rather a ‘leak’… and the Southern Ocean is “The Worst Offender”! The natural exchange of CO2 from ocean to air is a ‘worst offender leak’, using the negative propaganda terms of Sigman.

      Bad CO2! Bad!! Bad!!!

      • Posts like this make it all worthwhile. Thanks for the laugh, and the great analysis, J Mac. 🙂

    • It does just that by removing instability! Unstable climate is supposedly the norm, so making an unstable system unstable makes it stable. Kind of like multiplying two negative numbers?

      Sorry, I’m doing my best here!

  3. I’m sorry, have I understood this correctly? A rise in CO2 concentration from 260 to 280ppm prevented the next ice age from happening? Really? Literally (you have to say “literally” these days, it seems)?
    In that case, Charney Sensitivity must be gargantuan and we must all have fried by now.

    • Well, if it is true then we really should all be cheering for having prevented another glaciation, when a lot of life dies.

    • Its fun, literally, to listen to the trends in vernacular English endlessly spouted by young adults. Especially as one gets older.

      You are right: today’s top-10 list of must-use words to be chronologically hip are “literally”, “like”, and “down”. and 7 more.

      Thanks.
      GoatGuy

    • Ian,
      Re: “Literally”
      Agree! Much prefer ‘actually’, ‘in reality’, ‘demonstrably’, or ‘factually’ to provide greater clarity in communications.

  4. Some time ago, I fitted a linear model of increased atmospheric carbon to temperature and carbon emissions. The model spat out that there was an ‘offset’ – a baseline increase in atmospheric carbon of 145Mt C per year, independent of temperature and emissions. That’s 0.02% pa. The number they are talking about is much lower than that: 20ppmv in 10000 years looks like about 0.001%, but perhaps on centennial timescales it is highly variable.

    Still, makes me wonder whether the southern ocean ‘leak’ is still going on.

  5. Scientists have proposed various hypotheses for that carbon dioxide increase, but its ultimate cause has remained unknown. Now, an international collaboration led by scientists from Princeton and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry point to an increase in Southern Ocean upwelling.

    “HA”, those Global Warminist “experts” know durn well what has been causing the steady and consistent “yearly increase” in atmospheric CO2 ppm during the past 150 years and it has very little to nothing to do with an “increased circulation in the Southern Ocean”. The ocean waters are “warming back up” from the cold of the LIA, thus the “warming” of the ocean water has to occur before the CO2 will be emitted (outgassed) into the atmosphere.

    ……. so an increase in its (CO2 outgassing) activity could explain the mysterious warmth of the past 11,000 years, an international team of researchers reports.

    “Only in their wildest of dreams” ….. because the same was true at the end of the past glacial maximum of 22,000 YBP …. when the glacial ice started melting and the ocean watere began warming back up.

    Just who in their right mind would be silly enough to infer or suggest that atmospheric CO2 was the “driver” of this, to wit:

    http://cdn.antarcticglaciers.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Post-Glacial_Sea_Level_rise2.png

  6. Our interglacial different to the others? Really? See chart. No it isn’t, outside the noise. May I shout Bad Science? BS.

    As a physicist and engineer I am getting really tired of all these pointless research papers. What practical laws are proved? What is anyone going to DO about this? How will we benefit from this work? Being an academic doing pointless research on the trace gas du jour , or whatever is the current best excuse for getting grant funding seems a great career to me. But not on my $.

    By far the best use of human ingenuity and resources is responding to the actual VERY slow changes to best defend society, responding to proven change we can see rather than unprovable conjecture no one can prove so everyone can debate at public expense. A Victorian approach to science and technology, without the rampant lack of regard for clear and present environmental damage. Put these guys to real productive work designing civil engineering responses, etc.. https://www.dropbox.com/s/fled0he4ztivd5v/Interglacial%20overlap.jpg?dl=0

    • Firstly, the abstract of the paper has nothing to do with temperature at all, it’s about the carbon cycle and nitrates. One of the authors of the paper is obviously a disciple of CAGW and musing that this tiny 20ppm “extra” CO2 had something to do with higher Holocene temperatures – probably because the climate research gravy train is slowing down and they are desperate but also maybe to get his name into the news cycle.

    • Is our interglacial different to the others? Really? See chart. No it isn’t, outside the noise. May I shout Bad Science? BS.

      Well, its different in that its less peaky, and now somewhat (perhaps only 35%) longer in duration than the prior 7 to 10 of them. The ones we’re able to get instrumentation on by geologic proxies.

      But as you say, its not ALL that different.

      I am getting tired of these pointless research papers. [What predictive value] do they have?

      It is hard to say. I think these papers serve three primary purposes: (1) an attempt to find parameters to a model that can fairly accurately “pastcast” the known historical record, (2) to postulate causal physics to account for the observed geologic record, and (3) to give the endless stream of essentially unemployable grad students something to write up, gain notoriety, fluff the department’s prominance and attract either future research monies or slick the chute for said researchers to slide into an associate professorship, tenure track.

      How will we benefit from this work?

      Postulating theory which actually might be geophysically causal wouldn’t be a bad use of funds. Whether it has purpose in the broader sociological sense is almost immaterial: while you, I and 99.9% of the people on this planet aren’t materially affected by the ongoing (250+ years) research into Babylonian cuniform, there are a few rare people for whom their entire careers rotate around that very tiny star. To each their own. Blessed be the researchers of the arcane. Upon their shoulders the definition of the Remarkableness of Humanity rests.

      Being an academic doing pointless research on the trace gas du jour , or whatever is the current best excuse for getting grant funding seems a great career to me. But not on my $.

      Just as I said. Yet my friend, is it such a sin to glean the orchards of giants in order to occassionally find a nut? The petrochemical industry has a net internal “GDP” (or whatever its called) worldwide exceeding the GDP of America itself. That a few geo-historian types find a few nuts lying around seems pretty tame.

      I agree with the rest of your comment, too.
      GoatGuy

      • The Younger Dryas put a damper on rising temperatures and from recovery its been a gradual descent to this point in time. I argue the Holocene is different to previous interglacials because it obviously lacks a pointy head.

  7. Why is the Holocene always referred to in the past tense? I thought that now is still the Holocene.

    • 99.9999999999% of the Holocene is in the past… As is everything else before right now. By the time I click “post comment,” my comment will be in the past along with most of the Holocene… /SARC

      • I’ve never considered the question – what exactly demarks one glacial/interglacial period from the next? Is there a rule for that?

        • Is there a rule for that? Yes. The geologic evidence from a half dozen pre-historical proxies which correlate to a very rapid rise in Earth’s mean temperature, terminating (or capping) at a temperature essentially just below (important) the mean-low-temperature of the Holocene.

          Or to put it differently: if one draws a straight-line on the Holocene’s mean temperature, plotted on the temperatures derived from the prehistoric record, one finds a particular ancient time: 10,800 years ago, before which the mean temp of the earth was BELOW the mean low temperature of the Era. That would define “before the Holocene”. Or the Holocene transition.

          Strictly speaking, some authors consider the meteoritic rise in temperatures itself to be part of the Holocene. The geologic record’s proxies tend to “respond” fairly slowly to mean Earth temperature changes. In other words, the “clement Holocene conditions” may well have prevailed all thru that meteoritic world-wide rise in temperatures, even while technically we were still in an Ice Age. The proxies just hadn’t caught up.

          GoatGuy

      • Shame on you.
        Do not abuse Significant Figures like this. You know that you do not know the length of the Holocene to 12 Sig. Figs.

        • Um… 0.9999999999962 only has 2 significant digits. It is 1 – 3.8×10⁻¹² … Just saying. Its the nature of numbers quite-close to 1. GoatGuy

      • That should be 100% of the Holocene is in the past, since the instantaneous “NOW” is infinitely small.

    • Bsl,
      For an answer to that question, just see the schedule for this year’s “New Scientist Live” mega-exhibition in London next month. And, yes, this is a seriously big event with lots or real science and technology on show. Two of the speakers have totally bought the “Anthropocene” meme and will talk about it. So, there you have it: Holocene over, we live in the Anthropocene….
      Not…

      • Bang on , I instantly realised the past tense was an“Anthropocene” plug.

        “If the findings from the Holocene can be used to predict how Southern Ocean upwelling will change in the future, it will improve our ability to forecast changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and thus in global climate,” said Sigman.

        Big if ! Since they have no idea what caused those changes, they are not going predict anything.

        The most obvious explanation of 20 ppmv over 10ka would be residual outgassing resulting from the deglaciation. The deep ocean will not equilibriate for thousands of years.

        They simply put the cart before the horse because they have a hair up their butt about CO2 being the control knob and everything else has to seem as some consequence of CO2 changes. It’s obsessional.

    • The hollowscene was named by 19th century geologists who were unaware that the Pleistocene is characterized by many glacial/interglacial oscillations. They thought the Pleistocene was a solid block of ice. No wonder Lyell created his “Recent” in 1833 to distinguish the current period of glacial retreat. The epoch “Holocene” was submitted in 1867 based on the same misconception.

    • I have been thinking on that for quite awhile now. The best answer is probably that the author simply didn’t add the words “start of the…” before Holocene.

      The start of the Holocene was 10,800 years ago by general geologic evidence. We’re presently in the Holocene, and will continue to be in the Holocene until such time as the still-unknown triggering events happen which guide the Whole Ball of Dirt back into the next very long Ice Age.

      Meanwhile, pundits and popes alike have dubbed The Present as the Anthropocene … because Mankind is such a Pox on this Planet. Makes me feel warm inside, that. TRUTH is that if there is an “anthropocene” era, then it started about 3,500 years ago or so.

      When China massively deforested its subcontinent, along with the Indians. And some thousand years later when the Romans almost completely denuded the great forests of North Africa and The Levant, and Germania to the North … for firewood, for charcoal, for making cement, for civil engineering and roadway construction as well as fuel-for-cooking.

      These two events changed the planet’s mesoscale climate, for sure.

      GoatGuy

  8. Good grief…..what next? Is there no end to these poorly connected AGW conclusions?

    It would be a great theory and the findings are interesting, but I was under the impression that the Holocene was a period of almost catastrophically low CO2 – so low as to threaten the existence of plant life. What caused the rapid warming to end the last ice age – certainly not a significant rise in CO2 and the rise from thereon is still minuscule and is not in sync with the rises and falls of climatic temperature in the last 11000 years. There was no significant change in CO2 level to cause the medieval cold – or are they still denying that period.

    Without a doubt the biological pump and deposition of colossal amounts of carbon onto the ocean floor is what regulates the level of CO2 and is part of why our planet stays so wonderfully in balance. There is a great deal more work to do to ascertain the connections with atmospheric CO2 levels and why the present levels are counted in the 100s ppm rather than the pasts 1000s. Am I right in thinking that the present increase in CO2 cannot be the result of mans increased use of fossil fuels alone anyhow? Or have I missed something?

    • I have stated just such a thing that the increase in co2 may not have been man made. I’m sure some of it is. However, I have questions about the sink rates over and above what is accounted for in the short and long term.
      I also think AGW may have adjusted the co2 levels during the LIA and MWP as co2 certainly seems to follow temperature. If not, where was the co2 going or coming from?

    • Mark Hansford

      Am I right in thinking that the present increase in CO2 cannot be the result of mans increased use of fossil fuels alone anyhow? Or have I missed something?

      Of course, you are right, the following statistics proves you are, to wit:

      Increases in World Population & Atmospheric CO2 by Decade

      year — world popul. – % incr. — Dec CO2 ppm – % incr. — avg increase/year
      1940 – 2,300,000,000 est. ___ ____ 300 ppm est.
      1950 – 2,556,000,053 – 11.1% ____ 310 ppm – 3.3% —— 1.0 ppm/year
      1960 – 3,039,451,023 – 18.9% ____ 316 ppm – 1.9% —— 0.6 ppm/year
      1970 – 3,706,618,163 – 21.9% ____ 325 ppm – 2.8% —— 0.9 ppm/year
      1980 – 4,453,831,714 – 20.1% ____ 338 ppm – 4.0% —– 1.3 ppm/year
      1990 – 5,278,639,789 – 18.5% ____ 354 ppm – 4.7% —– 1.6 ppm/year
      2000 – 6,082,966,429 – 15.2% ____ 369 ppm – 4.2% —– 1.5 ppm/year
      2010 – 6,809,972,000 – 11.9% ____ 389 ppm – 5.4% —– 2.0 ppm/year
      2017 – 7,550,262,101 – 9.80 % ____ 407 ppm – 4.4% —– 1.8 ppm/year

      Fact #1 – In 77 years – world population increased 228% – CO2 increased 35.7%

      Conclusions:
      Given the above statistics, it appears to me to be quite obvious that for the past 77 years there is absolutely no direct association or correlation between:

      Increases in atmospheric CO2 ppm and world population increases.

      • Wait a minute, I think you struck on some GOLD here! And one that should get all the Mother Gaia fans on OUR side…

        As CO2 goes up, the population rate of increase declines! I bet all that CO2 is making people too irritable and sleepy to procreate. Thus, if we’re to avoid Ehrlich’s population bomb, we need MORE CO2 in the air! By your data, we need to raise it to around 500 ppm to stabilize our population.

        QUICK – Fire Up The SUV to Save The Earth!

  9. A lame explanation attempt, which does not fit at all to the claimed warming rates with double CO2.

    “In this context, the 20ppm increase may be observed during the Holocene may seem small,” Sigman said. However, scientists think that this is a key role in the development of the Holocene, which may have been facilitated development of complex human civilizations. ”

    Normally, the CO2 level in this context would have to be 100 to 150 percent higher, ie 420 to 480 ppm. However, such a level does not lead to the thesis that CO2 has never been as high for several hundred thousand years as it is today. And this assumption is based on a few critical ice cores. Where this assumption leads, however, can be seen in the above lame statement. There are other witch-spelled paleontologists who see a much more variable CO2 content of the atmosphere than detected by ice cores. They are probably right.

  10. The Holocene was an “interglacial period,” one of the rare intervals of warm climate that have occurred over the ice age cycles of the last million years.

    1 – What’s with the past tense? We’re still in the Holocene.
    2 – Interglacials aren’t rare. They occur at fairly regular intervals.

    Science is misrepresented so badly by writers, and it happens so regularly that I wonder if it isn’t a deliberate policy..

    The actual science is hedged by all kinds of conditions and provisos. The PR writers get to say what the scientists would actually like to say if they could get away with it.

    • My first thought was that this was bad writing in the press release… But, I think the authors may be ignorant of the geologic time scale…

      Sigman and his colleagues have found that an increase in the Southern Ocean’s upwelling could be responsible for stabilizing the climate of the Holocene, the period reaching more than 10,000 years before the Industrial Revolution.

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180730120316.htm

      They clearly seem to believe that the Holocene ran from the end of the Pleistocene to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution… This ignorance of basic geology may also explain why they think interglacial stages have been “rare” and that the Holocene was special.

      • Well.. we only know what Sigman said, his colleagues were not available for comment. Theire abstract doen’t even mention temperature, the paper is about CO2, the carbon cycle and nitrates.

    • “Interglacials aren’t rare.” Yes they are over the Phanerozoic Eon. Only one other period saw both temperature and CO2 as low as now at the same time over the last 600 million years.

    • It’s like declaring the sun orbits the earth then desperately trying to get everyone to ignore the obvious faults in the theory as well as threaten/ridicule those who point out those faults.

  11. They neglected to consider the thermodynamics and kinetics of the system. The “roaring 40’s” is nearly a perpetual sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide because the surface water is colder than the air. In the winter It is colder than the up-welling water as a result of radiation to space. On the other hand, up-welling of the Cromwell current in the tropical eastern pacific increases the natural emissions of CO2 significantly.

  12. Climate sensitivity to atm. CO2 is much too low for this hypo to be correct.

    Cart before horse. We know that atm. CO2 trends lag temperature trends by ~~800 years in the ice core record and by ~9 months in the modern data record.

    The correct mechanism is probably that warming caused the increase in atm. CO2.

  13. This is just flat-out wrong…

    The Holocene differed from other interglacial periods in several key ways, say the researchers. For one, its climate was unusually stable, without the major cooling trend that is typical of the other interglacials. Secondly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose about 20 parts per million (ppm), from 260 ppm in the early Holocene to 280 ppm in the late Holocene, whereas carbon dioxide was typically stable or declined over other interglacial periods.

    The Holocene interglacial has very clearly exhibited a cooling trend.

    https://debunkhouse.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/060917_1702_aholocenete5.png

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/06/09/a-holocene-temperature-reconstruction-part-4-the-global-reconstruction/

    Earth’s “climate” has been cooling since the Holocene Climatic Optimum, 6-8 kya.

    Counting the Holocene, 4 of 8 interglacial stages over the past 800 kya exhibited ~20 ppm rises after deglaciation…

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/no-smooth.png

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/03/28/breaking-hockey-sticks-antarctic-ice-core-edition/

    Regarding CO2 preventing glaciation, it didn’t work out too well in the Eemian/Sangamonian…

    https://debunkhouse.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/sangamonianco2.png

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/26/co2-ice-cores-vs-plant-stomata/

    • Summary of the big picture:

      a. The global cooling period from ~1940 to 1975 (during a time of increasing atmospheric CO2) demonstrates that climate sensitivity to increased atmospheric CO2 is near-zero – so close to zero as to be insignificant.
      b. There is overwhelming evidence that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the oceans is not dangerously high – it is dangerously low, too low for the continued survival of life on Earth.
      c. CO2 abatement and sequestration schemes are nonsense.

      Regards, Allan

      View this animation of the reduction/elimination of the global cooling period from ~1940 to ~1975:
      https://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/giss-1981-2002-2014-global.gif

      Source: Tony Heller
      https://realclimatescience.com/all-temperature-adjustments-monotonically-increase/
      _____________________________________________

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/05/15/globalization-could-undermine-efforts-to-reduce-co2-emissions/#comment-2355921

      [excerpts]

      The global cooling period from ~1940 to 1975 (during a time of increasing atmospheric CO2) demonstrates that climate sensitivity to increased atmospheric CO2 is near-zero – so close to zero as to be insignificant.

      This and other evidence strongly supports the conclusion that there is NO global warming crisis, except in the fevered minds of warmist propagandists.

      There is overwhelming evidence that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the oceans is not dangerously high – it is dangerously low, too low for the continued survival of life on Earth.

      ON CO2 STARVATION

      I have written about the vital issue of “CO2 starvation” since 2009 or earlier, and others including Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, have also written on this subject:
      https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/moore-positive-impact-of-human-co2-emissions.pdf

      Summary

      1. Atmospheric CO2 is not alarmingly high; in fact, it is dangerously low for the survival of terrestrial carbon-based life on Earth. Most plants evolved with up to 4000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, or about 10 times current CO2 concentrations.

      2. In one of the next global Ice Ages, atmospheric CO2 will approach about 150ppm, a concentration at which terrestrial photosynthesis will slow and cease – and that will be the extinction event for much or all of the terrestrial carbon-based life on this planet.

      3. More atmospheric CO2 is highly beneficial to all carbon-based life on Earth. Therefore, CO2 abatement and sequestration schemes are nonsense.

      4. As a devoted fan of carbon-based life on this planet, I feel the duty to advocate on our behalf. I should point out that I am not prejudiced against non-carbon-based life forms. They might be very nice, but I do not know any of them well enough to form an opinion. 🙂
      _________________________________________________________________________

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/07/02/opening-up-the-climate-policy-envelope/#comment-2394869

      Atmospheric CO2 is inexorably declining as it is being sequestered in carbonate rocks. In the last Continental Last Ice Age, atmospheric CO2 declined to about 180 ppm – in the next Ice Age it could drop lower, even closer to the extinction point of C3 plants at about 150-160 ppm. ”

      Virtually ALL food plants use the C3 photosynthetic pathway, so a drop of atmospheric CO2 to 150-160 ppm will be an extinction event for ~all advanced terrestrial life on Earth.

      A few food plants (less than 1%) use the C4 photosynthetic pathway, including corn and sugar cane – but I doubt terrestrial life could survive for long on Sugar Frosted Flakes – notwithstanding the persistent rumour that “They’re Great!”

      There are also CAM photosynthetic pathway plants, so we can look forward to having pineapple with our Sugar Frosted Flakes.

      Regards, Allan

      • Allan
        You cannot talk about CO2 in ppm values and plant starvation without a temperature reference. 150 ppm at 20C has a completely different DENSITY than 150ppm at 8C. Plants don’t give a hoot about ppm, what they care about is the density of CO2 in the air space around them. How close together are the CO2 molecules and what is the wind doing to replace that air space with a fresh charge. That is, what is the quantity in the cubic meter of atmosphere that surrounds them.

        CO2 lags temperature rise when transitioning from a glacial to inter glacial, that is well understood. Therefore atmospheric DENSITY of CO2 is at the lowest in the cycle when global plant growth is strongest, biosphere release is slow, and it is this phase that has controlled the evolution of C1 to C4 plant specie.
        Regards

  14. So, if we start with full acceptance of the conjecture that CO2 is the climate control knob, we then measure the CO2 after the change of state from glaciation to inter-glacial (ignoring any inconvenient time delays) we show that CO2 is the control knob that prevented slipping back immediately into a glacial period.

    Circular reasoning is fun, but rather pointless. I think I can apply for my CAGW grants now… (/sarc)

  15. Interesting article, but I am not sure that I buy it! The article has many of same assumptions that are being touted that we have seen promoted over very recent times, whereby, human caused carbon dioxide increases, far greater than the twenty parts per million increases as suggested here. But they too have been linked to most of the cause over the past one hundred and fifty years. We are talking here of parts per million, and that surely still has little or no effect upon Earth climate.

    There does remains the main climate driver that far outweighs all other influences upon our climate, and that is the Sun. And it is these changes that I think are overwhelmingly for climate changes being discussed here.

  16. The Radiative Green House Effect theory contains a fatal flaw.

    For RGHE to function as advertised requires the earth’s surface to radiate upwelling LWIR as an ideal black body, i.e. at 288 K, 390 W/m^2.

    The contiguous presence of atmospheric molecules participating in heat transfer through conduction, convection, advection, evaporation and condensation renders impossible such BB LWIR, effective surface emissivity being 0.16, 63 W/m^2.

    The LWIR upwelling 390 W/m^2 does not exist, the GHG energy loop “warming” the surface and atmosphere does not exist – and warming and climate change by carbon dioxide do not exist.

  17. “the 20 ppm increase observed during the Holocene may seem small,” said Sigman.

    “The fossil-bound nitrogen isotope measurements indicate that during the Holocene, increasing amounts of water, rich in nutrients and carbon dioxide, welled up from the deep ocean to the surface of the Southern Ocean. While the cause for the increased upwelling is not yet clear,……..”

    The researchers have only found the effect what happened not the cause. This continued misunderstanding of getting cause and effect mixed up is why the alarmists fail to deliver anything they say.

    This rise from 260ppm to 280ppm were not long during the Holocene after the last major ice age. The Ice Cores also detected a rise of 260ppm to around 280ppm during previous interglacials that this event was suppose to be different from. The main cause being the Earth and sun moving into a position that favoured warmer climate after causing the last ice age previously. The oceans warm with the planet being in a more favoured position and slowly out gas CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Doubling of CO2 from 260ppm to 520ppm gives estimated rise of 1c. With a increase of 20ppm this would roughly give a temperature rise of 0.08c. No sane person is going to believe that this small temperature change not only caused greater upwelling in the deep oceans, but prevented future worse cooling then if it had not happened. They do admit cause for upwelling is not clear yet and only a prime example of missing the cause.

    Based on much recent more reliable data where we can compare these small rises in CO2 and variance in temperatures, provides evidence of being a minor player. Natural climate cycles have so far hidden any noticeable signal from any rising CO2 with the oceans being the key player. The oceans are the kettle on the gas stove being the sun.

    • Good comments Matt, thank you .

      You wrote:
      “Doubling of CO2 from 260ppm to 520ppm gives estimated rise of 1c.”

      Please note that the conclusions of Christy and McNider 2017 for the satellite era (since 1979) and Monckton et al 2018 for the industrial era (since ~1850) both provide Upper Bound (maximum) estimates of climate sensitivity to CO2 of ~1C/doubling. This is because both analyses assume (for clarity and simplicity) that ALL warming over the subject time period is attributed to increasing atmospheric CO2.

      If it were assumed , for example, that only half of the observed warming was attributed to increasing CO2 and half to natural causes, then sensitivity would equal ~0.5C/doubling.

      There is ample evidence that natural forces play a significant, and probably a dominant role in the driving of global temperature change.

      The actual value of climate sensitivity may in fact be considerably lower than 1C, a positive number between 0.0C and 0.5C/doubling.

      This is rather academic though, because any climate sensitivity below approx. 1C/doubling leads to the strong conclusion that there is no credible man-made global warming crisis.

      The results to humanity and the environment of increasing atmospheric CO2, to a high degree of confidence, are:
      1. a small, possibly undetectable amount of global warming, and
      2. significantly improved plant and crop yields,
      both of which are net beneficial to humanity and the environment.

      Best, Allan

      • I agree, but using what the alarmists generally agree with avoids arguing or dismissing the points and conclusion when they can’t fault what it was based on. Chris M often uses this style in his research.

        The only exception being that even around 1C/doubling leads to the strong conclusion that there is no credible man-made global warming crisis. This is because the positive feedback that was suppose to cause alarm has not been found on any level.

      • “If it were assumed , for example, that only half of the observed warming was attributed to increasing CO2 and half to natural causes, then sensitivity would equal ~0.5C/doubling.”

        The warming from 1910 to 1940 was supposedly mostly natural, and was of equal magnitude to the warming from 1980 to the present, so I think assuming CO2 is responsible for all or even most of the current warming is a wild guess with no evidence to back it up. Mother Nature warmed us up in the past and there’s no reason that Mother Nature can’t warm us up in a similar fashion now.

        It warmed up just as much from 1910 to 1940 as it did from 1980 to present, and if the Climate Change Charlatans hadn’t bastardized the surface temperature records, it would be obvious to see on the charts that the 1930’s were the hottest period in recent times and were hotter than any subsequent year including the year 2016, which NASA claims was the “hottest year evah!”

        We are actually in a temperature downtrend, not the soaring uptrend NASA and NOAA want to foist off on us.

        I know you are aware of all this, Allan. My commentary is meant for those who are not. 🙂

        Here’s the real global temperature profile (or as close as we are going to get), the Hansen 1999 U.S. temperature chart:

        https://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/uhcnh2.gif

        Notice that 1934 is about 0.5C warmer than 1998, which makes 1934 0.4C warmer than 2016, which means we have been in a temperature downtrend since 1934.

        And as you can see we have a warming period from 1910 to 1940, and then a cooling period from 1940 to 1980, and then another warming period from 1980 to the present at the same magnitude as the 1910 to 1940 warming.

        So why should we assume that the current warming requires anything other than Mother Nature to warm things up? Just because CO2 is in the atmosphere? I don’t think so.

        • Excellent comments – I agree – thank you Tom.

          I wrote above:
          “Please note that the conclusions of Christy and McNider 2017 for the satellite era (since 1979) and Monckton et al 2018 for the industrial era (since ~1850) both provide Upper Bound (maximum) estimates of climate sensitivity to CO2 of ~1C/doubling. This is because both analyses assume (for clarity and simplicity) that ALL warming over the subject time period is attributed to increasing atmospheric CO2.”

          Lord Monckton explained that rationale for his approach here:

          Monckton of Brenchley
          “In response to Rishrac, the approach we have taken is ruthlessly pragmatic. We have accepted ad argumentum all of official climatology except what we can prove to be false. This approach minimizes the scope for disagreement and compels the usual suspects to face what we say is our error and address our result.”
          Reply July 31, 2018 10:20 pm

          In effect, these analyses say:
          “I’ve accepted ALL your assumptions, and even then the calculated maximum climate sensitivity to atm. CO2 is extremely low, thus there is NO real catastrophic man-made global warming crisis, and you warmists are again proven to be full of cr@p!” *
          ___________

          * Note re terminologies – these are technical terms routinely used in engineering.

  18. Anthony, it would help to add the link to the article by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications at Princeton U. based on “opinions” by Prof Daniel Sigman, one of the authors of the paper.

    https://www.princeton.edu/news/2018/07/30/carbon-leak-may-have-warmed-planet-11000-years-encouraging-human-civilization

    The abstract doesn’t mention temperature at all, it’s addresses nitrates and the carbon cycle.

    The prior Eemian interglacial enjoyed a briefly higher temperature (~3C higher per Vostok) that settled back to a temperature about the same as the early Holocene. Eemian IG temperature dropped over 5C despite CO2 lingering at about a steady 270 ppm for over 20,000 years, a period that included temperature shooting up to that peak then quickly dropping back down followed by more gradual cooling. Why is no one seeing that CO2 is showing exactly no influence at all on temperature for the latter ~80% of that period? They want us to believe that the initial 20%, when temperature was quickly rising, was “driven” by CO2 but then told to ignore that temperature reversed and came down while CO2 persisted. Such ideas defy logic IMO. CO2 is showing no influence on temperature at all in that data.

    But then this, to now suggest a mere 20 ppm difference in CO2 “stabilized” Holocene temperature is in the realm of moonbattery and tells me they are all getting rabidly desperate to hang on to their CO2 temperature control knob theory to keep the gravy train rolling.

  19. the mysterious warmth of the past 11,000 years

    It’s an interglacial period. What’s mysterious about that? There are well developed hypotheses about the causes of glacial/interglacial cycles. They mostly involve orbital variations. These authors should be well aware of all that. Perhaps they are, and deliberately ignored it.

    It’s actually a decent piece of data gathering and research, ruined by trying to shoehorn it into the “CO2 and only CO2 controls climate” myth.

  20. “The biological pump is driven mostly by the low latitude ocean but is undone closer to the poles, where carbon dioxide is vented back to the atmosphere by the rapid exposure of deep waters to the surface”

    Sounds reasonable, once you get past the fact that they have the physical processes *exactly*backwards*.
    I have had my quota of stupidity for the day.

  21. When the world warms, the oceans warm.
    When the oceans warm, they release CO2.

    The increase in CO2 is a symptom of a warming world, not the cause of it.

  22. Perhaps they should have looked at the solubility curve for CO2 before writing their paper. The solubility at 0 °C is twice that at 20 °C, a slight warming of the oceans, which would be expected at the planet warmed into the inter-glacial would easily account for the increase in CO2 would it not ?.

    In historical terms a rise of 20 ppm is negligible given that atmospheric CO2 has ranged between 180 and >6000 ppm. For 70% of the last 600 million years it has been over 1000 ppm without any adverse effect. 200 ppm change is nothing

  23. As if we needed more evidence that the academic natural sciences are in the Dark Ages. The stupidity on display in this study, it’s too much for words.

    • Loe
      If CO2 up-welling increased near Antarctica during the sampling station era, it would show in the CO2 trends from those stations on Antarctica. They would be higher than those of New Zealand and Tasmania. They are not.

  24. This started with the same “…CO2 done warmed the world…” which has been so thoroughly disproven, I couldn’t read any more of it! GIGO, and they didn’t even have to use a computer to do it!

  25. To protect oneself from pointless distraction and useless mental pain, one thing is necessary with these “look-what-the-media-said-about-this-research” type of announcements. Skip what the media said. Try to avoid reading even a single word. Go straight to the actual paper’s abstract. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200. Just go straight to the abstract. At all costs ignore the media blather.

    The research makes reasonable sense. Why was CO2 rising during the Holocene while temperatures were generally falling? Non human source of rising CO2 (oceanic) is acknowledged. The horror. The horror. But it’s fine.

  26. This is completely nonsense.

    They have their CO2 emissions upside down: the largest ocean upwelling is off the coast of Chile and Peru in the East Pacific. It is there that most of the CO2 emissions from warming up deep ocean waters is. That is measured as a strong pCO2 of the ocean waters of around 750 μatm. As the atmosphere is currently around 400 μatm (~ppmv), then the CO2 flux is out of the oceans. Near the poles, the ocean’s pCO2 is around 150 μatm, thus the sinking ocean waters take a lot of CO2 out of the atmosphere into the deep. That is as well the case for the Southern ocean as for the N.E. Atlantic.

    Even when in pre-industrial times the atmospheric CO2 levels were lower, still the high-latitude oceans were CO2 sinks, not sources…

    See the maps at: https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/maps.shtml

  27. Seems like another sneaky way to reinforce the AGW fraud, especially sneaky if skeptics support it.

  28. Finally, a paper that highlights the absurdity about co2 levels. At 20 ppm/v keeps us from falling into a deeper ice age, while an additional 126 ppm/v does, well practically nothing. If co2 was doing something besides making plants healthier.
    What should have happened at 300 ppm/v or (the horror) when it was 350 ppm/v ?
    How does AGW rationalize this? So far 126 ppm/v raises the temp, according to AGW supporters by 0.8 C. Just going along with the framework. So, it’ll take 157 ppm/v to raise the temp by 1 C. Then that 20 ppm/v raises the temp by 0.12 C ?
    Then if we used the other way where 280 ppm/v rose temp by 33 C ( from the blackbody) then it’s 8.48 ppm/v that raises the temp by 1 C. So, I can see that, you’d get a 2.5 C increase. But then what about the 126 ppm/v increase??? The temperature has clearly not gone up 14.8 C .
    Biggest offender I see are people trying to justify co2 as a temperature regulator.

  29. The facts:
    For the last 8000 years of the Holocene CO2 rises by 20 ppm while temperatures steadily fall.

    The reporting:
    “Leaking” CO2 (that must be the 20ppm rise they’re talking about) warms the planet.

    Curious kind of warming that causes temperatures to fall.

  30. I read someone’s PhD dissertation where his research appeared to uncover evidence of a shutdown of Pacific circulation during the last glacial which resulted in a large pool of liquid CO2 forming in the Southeastern Pacific on the ocean bottom in this stagnant location. Once the circulation started again, this CO2 was dissolved in the moving waters and eventually vented to the atmosphere during upwelling.

  31. The warmists forget that when the ice caps were some thousands of meters thick over Canada (Laurentia) and Scandinavia (18 kY ago), the sea level was down by 120 m. This means that the pressure on the seafloor was 12 bars less. This caused a lot of gases, including CH4 to seep out into the atmosphere. There was also a lot of dust in the atmosphere, which probably decreased the albedo of the ice. However, after the first warming, between 15 kY and 12 kY ago, there was a brutal set-back with the Younger Dryas cold spell, which only took about 50 years to develop.
    The ice was, however, finally gone by about 9 kY ago. Then came the optimum period of the Holocene, when the temperature was about +4 C higher than today (at 5 – 4 kY ago). There were no glaciers in Norway at that time, and the sea-level was bout 6 m higher than today….
    Nobody knows, however, why and how these temperatures came about. The main conlcusion is that: As long as we cannot figure out what happened here, -why bother with trying to explain AGW… ?

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