Nature Has Been Removing Excess CO2 4X Faster than IPCC Models

Reposted from Dr. Roy Spencer’s Blog

February 5th, 2020 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Note: What I present below is scarcely believable to me. I have looked for an error in my analysis, but cannot find one. Nevertheless, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so let the following be an introduction to a potential issue with current carbon cycle models that might well be easily resolved by others with more experience and insight than I possess.


Sixty years of Mauna Loa CO2 data compared to yearly estimates of anthropogenic CO2 emissions shows that Mother Nature has been removing 2.3%/year of the “anthropogenic excess” of atmospheric CO2 above a baseline of 295 ppm. When similar calculations are done for the RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) projections of anthropogenic emissons and CO2 concentrations it is found that the carbon cycle models those projections are based upon remove excess CO2 at only 1/4th the observed rate. If these results are anywhere near accurate, the future RCP projections of CO2, as well as the resulting climate model projection of resulting warming, are probably biased high.


My previous post from a few days ago showed the performance of a simple CO2 budget model that, when forced with estimates of yearly anthropogenic emissions, very closely matches the yearly average Mauna Loa CO2 observations during 1959-2019. I assume that a comparable level of agreement is a necessary condition of any model that is relied upon to predict future levels of atmospheric CO2 if it is have any hope of making useful predictions of climate change.

In that post I forced the model with EIA projections of future emissions (0.6%/yr growth until 2050) and compared it to the RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) scenarios used for forcing the IPCC climate models. I concluded that we might never reach a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (2XCO2).

But what I did not address was the relative influence on those results of (1) assumed future anthropogenic CO2 emissions versus (2) how fast nature removes excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Most critiques of the RCP scenarios address the former, but not the latter. Both are needed to produce an RCP scenario.

I implied that the RCP scenarios from models did not remove CO2 fast enough, but I did not actually demonstrate it. That is the subject of this short article.

What Should the Atmospheric CO2 Removal Rate be Compared To?

The Earth’s surface naturally absorbs from, and emits into, the huge atmospheric reservoir of CO2 through a variety of biological and geochemical processes.

We can make the simple analogy to a giant vat of water (the atmospheric reservoir of CO2), with a faucet pouring water into the vat and a drain letting water out of the vat. Let’s assume those rates of water gain and loss are nearly equal, in which case the level of water in the vat (the CO2 content of the atmosphere) never changes very much. This was supposedly the natural state of CO2 flows in and out of the atmosphere before the Industrial Revolution, and is an assumption I will make for the purposes of this analysis.

Now let’s add another faucet that drips water into the vat very slowly, over many years, analogous to human emissions of CO2. I think you can see that there must be some change in the removal rate from the drain to offset the extra gain of water, otherwise the water level will rise at the same rate that the additional water is dripping into the vat. It is well known that atmospheric CO2 is rising at only about 50% the rate at which we produce CO2, indicating the “drain” is indeed flowing more strongly.

Note that I don’t really care if 5% or 50% of the water in the vat is exchanged every year through the actions of the main faucet and the drain; I want to know how much faster the drain will accomodate the extra water being put into the tank, limiting the rise of water in the vat. This is also why any arguments [and models] based upon atomic bomb C-14 removal rates are, in my opinion, not very relevant. Those are useful for determining the average rate at which carbon cycles through the atmospheric reservoir, but not for determining how fast the extra ‘overburden’ of CO2 will be removed. For that, we need to know how the biological and geochemical processes change in response to more atmospheric CO2 than they have been used to in centuries past.

The CO2 Removal Fraction vs. Emissions Is Not a Useful Metric

For many years I have seen reference to the average equivalent fraction of excess CO2 that is removed by nature, and I have often (incorrectly) said something similar to this: “about 50% of yearly anthropogenic CO2 emissions do not show up in the atmosphere, because they are absorbed.” I believe this was discussed in the very first IPCC report, FAR. I’ve used that 50% removal fraction myself, many times, to describe how nature removes excess CO2 from the atmosphere.

Recently I realized this is not a very useful metric, and as phrased above is factually incorrect and misleading. In fact, it’s not 50% of the yearly anthropogenic emissions that is absorbed; it’s an amount that is equivalent to 50% of emissions. You see, Mother Nature does not know how much CO2 humanity produces every year; all she knows is the total amount in the atmosphere, and that’s what the biosphere and various geochemical processes respond to.

It’s easy to demonstrate that the removal fraction, as is usually stated, is not very useful. Let’s say humanity cut its CO2 emissions by 50% in a single year, from 100 units to 50 units. If nature had previously been removing about 50 units per year (50 removed versus 100 produced is a 50% removal rate), it would continue to remove very close to 50 units because the atmospheric concentration hasn’t really changed in only one year. The result would be that the new removal fraction would shoot up from 50% to 100%.

Clearly, that change to a 100% removal fraction had nothing to do with an enhanced rate of removal of CO2; it’s entirely because we made the removal rate relative to the wrong variable: yearly anthropogenic emissions. It should be referenced instead to how much “extra” CO2 resides in the atmosphere.

The “Atmospheric Excess” CO2 Removal Rate

The CO2 budget model I described here and here removes atmospheric CO2 at a rate proportional to how high the CO2 concentration is above a background level nature is trying to “relax” to, a reasonable physical expectation that is supported by observational data.

Based upon my analysis of the Mauna Loa CO2 data versus the Boden et al. (2017) estimates of global CO2 emissions, that removal rate is 2.3%/yr of the atmospheric excess above 295 ppm. That simple relationship provides an exceedingly close match to the long-term changes in Mauna Loa yearly CO2 observations, 1959-2019 (I also include the average effects of El Nino and La Nina in the CO2 budget model).

So, the question arises, how does this CO2 removal rate compare to the RCP scenarios used as input to the IPCC climate models? The answer is shown in Fig. 1, where I have computed the yearly average CO2 removal rate from Mauna Loa data, and the simple CO2 budget model in the same way as I did from the RCP scenarios. Since the RCP data I obtained from the source has emissions and CO2 concentrations every 5 (or 10) years from 2000 onward, I computed the yearly average removal rates using those bounding years from both observations and from models.

Fig. 1. [fixed]  Computed yearly average rate of removal of atmospheric CO2 above a baseline value of 295 ppm from historical emissions estimates compared to Mauna Loa data (red), the RCP scenarios used by the IPCC CMIP6 climate models, and in a simple time-dependent CO2 budget model forced with historical emissions before, and assumed emissions after, 2018 (blue). Note the time intervals change from 5 to 10 years in 2010.

The four RCP scenarios do indeed have an increasing rate of removal as atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise during the century, but their average rates of removal are much too low. Amazingly, there appears to be about a factor of four discrepancy between the CO2 removal rate deduced from the Mauna Loa data (combined with estimates of historical CO2 emissions) versus the removal rate in the carbon cycle models used for the RCP scenarios during their overlap period, 2000-2019.

Such a large discrepancy seems scarcely believable, but I have checked and re-checked my calculations, which are rather simple: they depend only upon the atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and yearly CO2 emissions, in two bounding years. Since I am not well read in this field, if I have overlooked some basic issue or ignored some previous work on this specific subject, I apologize.

Recomputing the RCP Scenarios with the 2.3%/yr CO2 Removal Rate

This raises the question of what the RCP scenarios of future atmospheric CO2 content would look like if their assumed emissions projections were combined with the Manua Loa-corrected excess CO2 removal rate of 2.3%/yr (above an assumed background value of 295 ppm). Those results are shown in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2. Four RCP scenarios of future atmospheric CO2 through 2100 (solid lines), and corrected for the observed rate of excess CO2 removal based upon Mauna Loa data (2.3%/yr of the CO2 excess above 295 ppm, dashed lines).

Now we can see the effect of just the differences in the carbon cycle models on the RCP scenarios: those full-blown models that try to address all of the individual components of the carbon cycle and how it changes as CO2 concentrations rise, versus my simple (but Mauna Loa data-supportive) model that only deals with the empirical observation that nature removes excess CO2 at a rate of 2.3%/yr of the atmospheric excess above 295 ppm.

This is an aspect of the RCP scenario discussion I seldom see mentioned: The realism of the RCP scenarios is not just a matter of what future CO2 emissions they assume, but also of the carbon cycle model which removes excess CO2 from the atmosphere.


I will admit to knowing very little about the carbon cycle models used by the IPCC. I’m sure they are very complex (although I dare say not as complex as Mother Nature) and represent the state-of-the-art in trying to describe all of the various processes that control the huge natural flows of CO2 in and out of the atmosphere.

But uncertainties abound in science, especially where life (e.g. photosynthesis) is involved, and these carbon cycle models are built with the same philosophy as the climate models which use the output from the carbon cycle models: These models are built on the assumption that all of the processes (and their many approximations and parameterizations) which produce a reasonably balanced *average* carbon cycle picture (or *average* climate state) will then accurately predict what will happen when that average state changes (increasing CO2 and warming).

That is not a given.

Sometimes it is useful to step back and take a big-picture approach: What are the CO2 observations telling us about how the global average Earth system is responding to more atmospheric CO2? That is what I have done here, and it seems like a model match to such a basic metric (how fast is nature removing excess CO2 from the atmosphere, as the CO2 concentration rises) would be a basic and necessary test of those models.

According to Fig. 1, the carbon cycle models do not match what nature is telling us. And according to Fig. 2, it makes a big difference to the RCP scenarios of future CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, which will in turn impact future projections of climate change.

257 thoughts on “Nature Has Been Removing Excess CO2 4X Faster than IPCC Models

    • Interesting link. The part that said sea level pressure was decided by a committee, made me remember the old adage that the Camel is a Horse that was designed by a committee 🙂

      • A camel is well suited to its environment while a horse would struggle to survive in that environment. One can not make the same statement about models that are used in
        Climate Science™.

      • I encourage everyone to read Zoe’s blog. Rare bold thinking coupled with clear logic and distilled mathematical essentials.

        Serious – have a read.

        • Ok, I did that, specifically the post linked to. She says “atmospheric pressure obviously should be going up along with temperatures.”

          I disagree. It would be true if the atmosphere were confined, but it is not. If the atmospheric temperature rises, the atmosphere will expand, but the total mass (weight) of the air column above sea level doesn’t change, which is what determines pressure. (I suppose one could argue that the top of the expanded atmosphere would be further from the center of gravity of the Earth, so in principle the pressure should actually decline a bit with temperature, maybe, but the effect would be infinitesimal given the small thickness of atmosphere relative to the planet’s radius.)

          • How about ocean evaporation?
            How about converting O2 (32g/mol) into CO2 (44 g/mol)?

            You don’t think higher temperatures leads to more evaporation?

          • ” (I suppose one could argue that the top of the expanded atmosphere would be further from the center of gravity of the Earth, so in principle the pressure should actually decline a bit with temperature, maybe, but the effect would be infinitesimal given the small thickness of atmosphere relative to the planet’s radius.)”

            Yes I have argued this (kind of) But it is not just the upper part of the expanded atmosphere that would be further from the centre of gravity but the whole of that atmosphere would thinner (less dense) too. Pressure should reduce. (or stay the same?) but not increase unless it had a lid on it.
            Yes infinitesimal but then so are the increments of the rise in temp.

          • Zoe Phin,

            atmospheric pressure is the same for 1 mol CO2, O2, N2 or Ar,… Thus converting one mol O2 in CO2 or reverse doesn’t change the atmospheric pressure of the sum of all molecules.
            For the solubility of any gas at sea level only the partial pressure of that gas at sea level is important, not the total pressure of all gases…

          • (@phoenix)
            If the temperature of the atmosphere were reduced to absolute zero, each molecule would have zero kinetic energy, and its weight would make it fall to the surface of the Earth, where it would be stopped by contact forces. The upward normal reaction would still have to equal the weight of the atmosphere, so “atmospheric” pressure would be unchanged.

          • Zoe Phin is correct in saying that increasing temperature will tend, indirectly, to increase atmospheric pressure. (Via extra water vapor increasing the weight of the air column.) Also, Diogenes and Mike are correct that it will tend to decrease atmospheric pressure by lifting the atmosphere to positions with lower values of g. It’s hard to say which effect would predominate.

            She is also correct in saying the increased molecular velocities that come with increased temperature will tend to increase pressure (as force equals rate of change of momentum). I haven’t seen her mention it, but increased velocity would also increase the frequency of collisions between each molecule and the ground. So, other things being equal, this double effect means pressure should increase in proportion with velocity squared, i.e. with temperature. But, on her blog, she accepts that other things will not be equal — increased temperature will cause thermal expansion. This will cause decreased density, and so decreased frequency of collisions, and so decreased pressure.

            Below the line at her blog, Diogenes, GallopingCamel and I are arguing that the three effects of increased temperature on atmospheric pressure must cancel out (as the pressure must equal the weight of the atmospheric column), while Zoe insists that the effects increasing the pressure will predominate. I don’t understand her arguments.

        • Nikolov and Zeller made an excellent case for how T and P are intertwined.

          Unfortunately they got causality wrong.

          I don’t need to prove my statement, it’s already well established.

        • I’m surprised no one pointed out that perhaps the method of deriving sea/surface pressure may be slightly wrong? And so the decreasing pressure is a methodology problem.

          • That’s what I was thinking. Adding a significant mass of hydrogen to the atmosphere would still increase the total mass (& I assume the atmos pressure). Of course, hydrogen would escape to space quickly….

    • Zoe Phin,

      The removal of CO2 by the oceans (and vegetation) is in direct ratio with the difference in CO2 pressure in the atmosphere (pCO2atm which is ~ppmv) and the pCO2aq in the ocean surface. That is about the partial pressure of CO2, not the full atmospheric pressure and depends of Henry’s law which says that for a given temperature there is always the same ratio between gas in solution and atmosphere for any gas, no matter if that gas is in near full vacuum or surrounded by other gases with much higher pressure…
      The average pCO2(aq) pressure for the average ocean surface temperature is around 290 microatm, which is about the same as ppmv in the atmosphere.
      As 410 ppmv is about 0.00041 bar CO2 pressure at this moment, that presses some extra CO2 in the oceans and vegetation.
      Calculated over the past 60 years that is indeed a change rate of over 2% or an e-fold decay rate of ~50 years or a half life of ~35 years.
      That means that without further emissions, the extra 120 ppmv CO2 in the atmosphere would halve in 35 years, 1/4 in 70 years, 1/8 in 105 years, etc. Or if humans would halve their CO2 emissions, there was no further increase in the atmosphere.

      What is the difference with the IPCC? The IPCC uses the Bern model (and similar models) which assume a saturation of the oceans and vegetation as sinks. Until now, that is only the case for the ocean surface, which has a limited buffer capacity and only absorbs some 10% of the change in the atmosphere.
      That is not the case for the deep oceans, which show no sign of saturation at the sink places near the poles and certainly not for vegetation which can use much higher CO2 levels…

      • Ferdinand,
        The point was to get 750 smart people to visit my site so they can learn the real pressure standard and pressure change over time.

      • We have had this discussion before.

        The ocean reservoir for holding CO2 is vast, but it its non-linear, governed by reaction-rate chemistry and not by Henry’s law.

        There is something called the Revelle Constant, where a 10-part increase in bulk atmospheric CO2 concentration, at equilibrium, results in a 1-part increase in CO2 in the “inorganic carbonates” in ocean water. It is the Revelle Constant and the 10th-power coefficient in the chemical equilibrium equations in multi-link chain of reactions in the carbonate species that accounts for this behavior, and this is what Murry Salby is missing in his claim that very little of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is the fault of humans.

        The ocean holds 50 times the CO2 of the atmosphere, but even with the Revelle Constant, emitted CO2 should partition into 1 part in the atmosphere and 5 parts in the ocean. Emitted CO2 appears (emphasis on appears as claimed by Dr. Spencer’s post) to be partitioning into 1 part atmosphere, .5 parts inorganic compounds in ocean water and .5 parts photosynthesis. The lower sinking by the ocean is attributed to the slow mixing between a shallow surface layer and the much larger deep ocean. This partitioning is consistent with accurate measurement of atmospheric O2, which gives the split between inorganic CO2 sinks that don’t emit O2 and the organic photosynthetic CO2 sinks that do.

        By the way, you have been arguing with anyone who will listen that the rapid C14 extinction of bomb-test radiocarbon is not the same as the residence time of bulk CO2 additions to the atmosphere. You are right, but you are wrong about Henry’s Law. The linear Henry’s law model will not give a difference between the two times, only the non-linear Revelle Constant (actually the 10th-power exponent in the chemical equilibrium equations does that).

        That half of the human-caused CO2 emissions end up in the atmosphere, half of the those emissions end up in sinks, with half of the sink being ocean water (not governed by Henry’s Law but by reaction-rate exponents) and half being green plants all ties together with most of the Keeling curve increase in CO2 being the human-caused emissions not going into sinks.

        It all ties up until you consider the large-in-comparison-to-the-putative-anthropogenic year-to-year fluctuations in the rate-of-increase in atmospheric CO2 — what Murry Salby along with the Wood for Trees Web site points out. This fluctuation is correlated with rear-to-year fluctuations in global temperature anomaly, suggesting that there is a temperature-stimulated natural CO2 emission.

        You, Ferdinand Engelbeen, have claimed here on WUWT that the source of the temperature-stimulated emission is the shallow leaf litter in the world’s tropical forest. I believe you told us that this is what Pieter Tans is telling us, the carbon-cycle expert at NOAA.

        What if the source of the temperature-stimulated emission includes temperate-zone soils that store several atmospheres-worth of carbon in compared to the fraction-of-an-atmosphere held in the much thinner tropical soils? What if another source of the temperature-stimulated emission includes upwelling ocean water as part of the ENSO? In order to match the Keeling curve, the CO2 emission being fed from much deeper, longer-acting sources needs to be balanced by a sink. There is increasing evidence that this sink is CO2 uptake by increase plant growth — “greening.”

        Salby’s mantra is “natural emissions proportional to temperature, photosynthetic sink proportional to atmospheric concentration.” Salby is right, actually, about half right. If you have a deep enough carbon store where the temperature-stimulated emissions act over time, to get the Keeling curve to match requires the increase in atmospheric CO2 to be about half human-caused, half the temperature-stimulated (or temperature-correlated in the case of upwelling ocean water) emission, and the green plant uptake needs sufficient sensitivity to increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations to balance the carbon model.

        • Paul,

          A few remarks:

          1. In first instance, Henry’s law still stands even for seawater, thus a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere doubles free CO2 in water. For fresh water there it end, because fresh water contains 99% pure CO2/H2CO3 in solution. For seawater CO2 in solution is only 1%, the rest is (bi)carbonates. Due to chemical equilibria, that makes that about 10 times more CO2 is dissolved than in fresh water, but 10 times less than expected from the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
          For the about 1000 PgC in the mixed ocean layer that is about 40 PgC for the 35% increase in the atmosphere, hardly a sink. The main sink in the oceans therefore is in the deep via the cold sink places like the THC in the N.E, Atlantic.

          2. The faster removal of some excess 14CO2 than for some excess 12CO2 is not the effect of the Revelle factor or the slight differences in solution speed, but of the deep ocean circulation,
          What did go into the deep oceans in 1960 at the peak of the bomb tests was the isotopic composition of that moment (minus the shift at the air-water border)
          What did come out of the deep oceans in 1960 was the isotopic composition of ~1000 years before, thinned with the 14C/12C ratio of the deep oceans and the shift at the water-air border.
          For the 12CO2 increase in 1960, of the 12CO2 mass that did sink that year into the deep, some 97.5% as 12CO2 mass returned in the same year, but for 14CO2 that was only 45%. That made the 14CO2 level return to equilibrium much faster than for 12CO2. See:

          3. Year by year variability is just noise with for the extremes (Pinatubo, El Niño) maximum +/- 1.5 ppmv around the 90 ppmv trend 1960-current and after a few years gets back to zero.
          Both the oceans (DIC) and vegetation (greening, O2 balance) are proven sinks for CO2 and their contribution to the increase in the atmosphere is negative with only 1998 (El Niño) within the margins of error for any positive contribution in the past 60 years.

        • You are ignoring blooms and whitings. Volcanic explosions, inputs of minerals from rivers , especially Ca, Sillica, Fe, slight warming etc, produce massive blooms in phytoplankton and precipitation in CaCO3 which produces organic and carbonate rich marine sediments. The growth is exponential. As several factors are required to produce exponential growth, it is difficult to model. Think of algal blooms from too much fertilisers. The Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Thernal peak produced organic rich marine sediments. Photosynthesis is an endothermic reaction, it produces cooling. Phytoplankton are a few mms across so can ions can rapidly pass into them when needed for growth. Phytoplankton will respond quickly to increase in temperature must faster than large plants, several metres in height. Vast explosions such as Krakatoa not only kept heat out of the earth but the mineralisation of the oceans would have produced phytoplankton blooms whose photosynthesis would have cooled the oceans.

          The mistake is is to think that the Earth undergoes uniform and slow change. Yes it does but there are periods of massive change; heating , cooling and volcanic explosions. Aererobic biological and photosynthesis will slow down heating.

    • With setting ranges

      set y2range [101.24 to 101.12];

      there’s data arbitrary excluded.

      OTOH the “Committee” equal arbitrary presented data.


      ​​In order to rule out these procedural errors, actually differences that have already been calculated, should be transferred instead of absolute values.

  1. I’ve seen stats that the equivalent land area of the USA in new green leafs have been added to the planet since ~1959. I wonder if anyone has tried to balance the biomass against the removed excess CO2 mass.

    • It’s not only land plants but also algae and bacteria sucking up the CO2. I don’t think anyone has true grasp of what’s going on the oceans

      • Then there are sea shells, growth of coral reefs, deposition of carbonaceous sediments and deposition of calcareous sediments to name four more natural factors sequestrating carbon dioxide.

        • MCHENRY and Barcoo, both good comments, and the processes you mention tend to lead to the generation of Black Gold, which some profit-motive individuals tend to extract and recycle into the whole process! Is this a great deal or what?

          • Does bio-turbidity make it impossible to take cores of recent decades (upper) sediment to estimate the amount of additional biomass the CO2 might be contributing to?

          • Thomas Mark Schaefer February 6, 2020 at 7:16 am

            Does bio-turbidity make it impossible to take cores of recent decades (upper) sediment.


            No, in the name of objective balanced unbiased science it hasn’t to be made “impossible”.

            Maybe next year.

    • Surely the largest source of photosynthesis is phytoplankton? we cannot measure this mass accurately as it changes yearly, so how can we measure the absorption of CO2? Growth of bacteria and small organisms tend to be exponential when the conditions are right , hence various algal blooms when too much fertliser enters water. A volcanic explosion depositing minerals on seawater combined with an increase in CO2 and a decadal increase in warming would produce a massive increase in phytoplankton mass and also the rate at at which it photsynthesis takes place.

  2. Complex systems have inherent regulation features. Very little in nature is static in terms of how systems operate. Basic characteristics — speed of light, atomic weights, the gas pressure laws, etc. — are unchanging, but they serve as fundamental building blocks and only participate in dynamic interactions as energy flows through systems.

    • “the gas pressure laws,”
      That statement reminded me of my qualification training in Submarines 60 years ago. I and other class members questioned how the LiOH “CO2 absorber canisters” could help us breath if they only got rid of CO2 and did not make O2. The answer was “Because of partial pressure rules of the CO2 and O2 on your lungs. There is still O2 left you just not get enough into your blood. High CO2 prevents you from getting the O2 you need. Lowering the CO2 level increases the partial pressure of the O2 and allows your lungs absorb the O2 you need. ” [Paraphrased from my 60 year old relocation.]
      Not a botanist, however, I would assume that an increased partial pressure of CO2 would be absorbed better, easier and thuss aid plant growth. Which would explain the monstrous plants on Earth when the CO2 levels were much higher. And models should take that into account.

      • Hemoglobin’s affinity for oxygen is pH dependent. Too much CO2 and it can’t easily absorb O2. The fact that hydroxide doesn’t generate O2 is of little consequence because O2 is about 21% of air and CO2 at 5000 ppm is only 0.5% of air.

        Eventually, however, O2 must be replenished.

      • Also CO2 levels control breathing. Hyperventilating into a bag stops hyperventilation because CO2 levels rise.

      • It will also affect your breathing, since the breathing reflex is completely controlled by the amount of CO2 in your lungs, not the amount of O2.

        This is why hypoxia is so insidious, you do not really notice anything much, you just “fall asleep”.

  3. How surprising!

    Life is not a static system. It’s defining physical characteristic is that poisonous element, carbon, and its defining functional characteristic is adaptability.

    • Salute!

      Great point, Richard.
      Reminds me of the politicians and some government clerks that use “static” economic conditions to calculate the “cost” of a tax reduction, when the real world exhibits significant changes in behaviour due to changes in taxation. Laffer curve is one of the best examples to use IMHO.
      Likewise, I have a hard time with any climate model that ignores changes in the behaviour of nature’s CO2 emitters and absorbers.

      Gums sends…

  4. Ol’ George Orwell would be mightily chuffed at how his ‘1984’ literary legacy is being implemented by the IPCC et al –

    The reality situation properly described as “Oh fudge, this is really not a problem at all” is now routinely announced as “It’s worse that we thought!”

    • The sunspot cycle goes from solar maximum at the beginning of the period to solar minimum at the end, which makes the slope negative (upward to the right using your inverted Y axis.) The best way to get the sunspot trend is to only look at complete solar cycles.

      • Here it is as requested, three complete cycles trend
        trend-lines equations are
        Now: peak to peak y = -2.2109x + 4482.7
        Before: max to min y = -2.2018x + 4464.7
        as you can see almost identical.
        When I said cooling, I was having in mind more the impact of the SSN cycles’ peaks.

      • Could be, in which case the heat is due to oceans back radiation rather than absorption directly from TSI, since the atmosphere has low heat capacity to provide for few years delay.
        I would think that spectral analysis of the radiation collected by satellite sensors should be able to determine contribution from direct and indirect heat content. If Dr Spencer and his team have such data it would be a useful addition to climate change debate.

      • Alternatively:
        During high solar activity there might be a lower atmospheric humidity (GCR etc) which may have not much effect on the day time temperatures but it would make night time temperatures lower (less vapour GHG effect), making the daily average somewhat lower than it would be the case in an identical situation at the low part of the sunspot cycle.

      • Is it likely that there is a half cycle lag in the temperature? Just thinking.

        Vuk February 6, 2020 at 1:15 am

        Could be, in which case the heat is due to oceans back radiation rather than absorption directly from TSI, since the atmosphere has low heat capacity to provide for few years delay.


        Too, sunspot cycles lasting the crude amount of 2 times ~11.3 years over quasi biennial oscillation

        yields some cycles occurring unnoticed while others show more than 1 El Niño events.

        What’s seen as lags may be just uncertainty.

  5. How dare She! That said, sampling between the lines is a well known problem, mitigated through deductive in lieu of inferential processes, observation in lieu of hypotheses (e.g. models), or reducing the frame of reference.

  6. Fantastic to shine a light on this! If the current history at Mauna Loa really does prove that modeled CO2 absorption rates are too low, it it really big news!

    On the down side, I would be stunned if even the Bern Model hadn’t been tweaked to match history well – it does have ?9 parameters – 5 half lives applying to 5 variable sized ‘buckets’ of CO2. (Might be 4 of each). The last bucket has an infinite half life. This is maybe coding the assertion stated in comments to your previous post that some CO2 just never gets absorbed. That kind of effect seems likely to bias the results up in the long term and give the kind of discrepancies you are talking about compared to a single-half-life model.

    How nature knows which CO2 to leave in the atmosphere always puzzled me…

    • As I said in a comment at Dr. Spencer’s article at his website, the models (more specifically the RCPs which is what the CMIP5 models use) actually agree with Spencer’s model during 2000-2020. I left a comment with details including my mathematical work and citations below, that is not a response to anyone else’s comment, and I expect it will show up soon.

    • russell robles-thome :

      “How nature knows which CO2 to leave in the atmosphere always puzzled me…”

      Nature doesn’t know, it just reacts on the extra CO2 pressure in the atmosphere, whatever the source of that extra CO2 or whatever the composition of what is removed.
      That nature is removing about half the human input of each year (as mass, not the original human induced molecules!) is just coincidence: humans emitted a slightly linear amount of CO2 over the years, which caused a slightly linear increase in the atmosphere and as result a slightly linear sink rate increase each year and therefore a near constant ratio between human emissions and removal.
      If humans would halve their emissions, emissions and removal are equal and no further increase in the atmosphere would occur…

      • The explanation of how nature distinguishes between buckets of CO2 is in the non-linear Revelle buffer/constant of the net reaction rate exponent of the inorganic carbonate chemical system in ocean water.

        Individual CO2 molecules are swapped back and forth at the atmosphere/ocean surface interface, diluting “bomb carbon” in the atmosphere. A bulk increase of 10 units of CO2 in the atmosphere results in only a 1 unit increase in CO2 in the mixed layer of ocean water near the surface because of the 10th power exponent in the chemical equilibrium equation. Hence the residence of a CO2 pulse added to the atmosphere is longer than the residence of the bomb-carbon C14 concentration subject to the 2-way exchange.

        Were CO2 solubility in ocean water governed by Henry’s Law, however, a 10 unit increase of atmospheric CO2 would be accompanied by a 10 unit increase in ocean water, and the extinction half-life of radiocarbon would be exactly the same as the relaxation of a bulk pulse of atmospheric CO2.

    • In the Bern Model, if I am remembering correctly, there is a chunk of emissions with an atmospheric half-life of infinity, i.e. is never absorbed. That is probably best viewed as a mathematical device for getting the absorption v time they want, because it is on its face nonsensical, because there is no way for the physics to identify which part of the atmosphere is going to refuse to be absorbed.

      • The Bern model originally was was based on a one-time release of 3000 and 5000 PgC, that is all (the then) available gas and oil and the second one also with a lot of coal. In such a case, one can expect a saturation of even the deep oceans (for vegetation even probably not). And a lot of CO2 remaining in the atmosphere even after full equilibrium with the deep oceans.
        For much smaller quantities, there is only saturation of the ocean surface, not in the foreseeable future for the deep oceans and certainly not for vegetation, but still they use the Bern model for that purpose, which makes no sense.
        20 years ago there was already a discussion between Peter Dietze and Fortunat Joos, the man behind the Bern model and others on the blog of the late John Daly:

  7. No, no, NO!

    It can’t be nature, it just can’t be.

    It HAS to be carbon taxes doing this, right?

    I mean, here in Canada, Prime Minstrel Zoolander’s government just announced that, indeed, our carbon taxes are WORKING*.

    * well, tax-wise, that is. No measurement on how much its actually lowering CO2, but that’s the hard stuff. EVERYONE GETS FREE MONEY!!!!

    • The carbon cycle is poorly understood and essentially a void when it comes comes to usable metrics that measure what is actually happening. Never mind why.

      The lack of carbon cycle metrics makes AGW a speculative endeavor. You can call it speculative science if you want to, but it is not experimental science.

  8. says the global annual CO2 emissions have nearly doubled since 1980. Yet the Mauna Loa graph is pretty linear. That tells me something is responding to keep it that way.

      • Your guess is incorrect. There are several Earth Monitoring Stations, one at the tip of Sea Point south of Cape Town. They are calibrated hourly or something like that, and largely automated, though have one or two volunteer scientists on hand all year. They measure CO2 and mercury and man other trace gases in the atmosphere.

        The data is publicly available and it shows interesting variations that were unexpected, such as the rapid rise and fall of mercury in the air over a period of hours. It had previously been assumed it was virtually constant everywhere in the world – not so.

        There is a station on the North short of Canada and you can log on to see the readings and history. The mercury rises and falls there too. No one has any idea why. It means there is some biological process going on in the atmosphere that “eats'” mercury.

        • Bacteria in the ocean water column is “eating” the mercury most probably. They make methyl mercury which winds up in the food chain

      • Zoe Phin,

        Tens of stations from many different organizations in a lot of different countries and a lot of different people involved over many decades… Impossible to manipulate the data without one whistle blower to bring that out (and near impossible to implement that either), See a part of the many stations all over the world here:

  9. From a layman’s perspective – I don’t see a lot of carcasses go to waste on the Savannah – I don’t imagine all that plant-food would go to waste either.

  10. This all assumes that the sinks are constant.

    If the sink is growing independently of the atmospheric concertation then the amount removed from the atmosphere is not only proportional to the total atmospheric concentration. It is more than that.

    And if the sink is shrinking independently of the atmospheric concertation then the amount removed from the atmosphere is not only proportional to the total atmospheric concentration. It is less than that.

    This is important as the natural emissions and re-absorption dwarf anthropogenic emissions. Also because the oceans ability to absorb CO2 is temperature dependant with a 800 year lag (according to Antarctic ice cores).

    So you might be trying to guess a dog’s bark by its colour. It might be completely irrelevant.

  11. As I said in a comment that I left at the Dr. Spencer article, at

    I had a look at the graphs on the sixth page (“Page 138”) of

    I look at RCPs 2.6 and 4.5, which are nearly the same thing as each other from 2000 to 2020. (According to the upper right one of 8 graphs.)

    My eyeball estimate of emissions over that time is average of 9.4 GtC per year. That times 20 years is 188 gigatonnes of carbon. That times 44/12 (the molar masses of CO2 and carbon respectively) is 689 gigatonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere from 2000 to 2020 according to RCPs 2.6 and 4.5 (approximately).

    Earth’s atmosphere has a mass of approx. 5,150,000 gigatonnes. 689 gigatonnes is 133.8 PPM of that by mass. The PPM normally used for atmospheric CO2 is PPMV or PPM by number of molecules. A CO2 molecule has 44/29.1 of the mass of an average air molecule, so 133.8 PPM by mass is 88.5 PPMV or PPM by number of molecules.

    The lower right one of the eight graphs on “Page 138” shows atmospheric CO2 concentration projected by the RCPs. (This is PPM CO2, not the “equivalent PPM CO2” shown in a similar graph at some other sources.) My eyeball estimate is that all RCPS and especially RCPs 2.6 and 4.5 have atmospheric CO2 at about 370 PPM at 2000 and about 415 PPM at 2020. This means that during 2000-2020 when enough CO2 to raise its atmospheric concentration by 88.5 PPM was emitted into the atmosphere, the atmosphere gained 45 PPM and 43.5 PPM was removed from the atmosphere by nature.

    These numbers are only approximate, I achieved them in part from eyeballing graphs. They are consistent with natural removal of CO2 from the atmosphere being equal to about half of anthropogenic emissions. And using 392.5 PPM (average of 370 and 415 PPM for average CO2 concentration over 2000-2020 which is slightly off because the increase is not linear) and average annual removal rate of 2.175 PPM per year (43.5/20), I come up with removal per year being about 2.23% of the excess over 295 PPM. This means that I see (during 2000-2020) the RCPs, especially RCPs 2.6 and 4.5, being close to agreeing with Dr. Spencer’s simple model.

    • Very small self-correction: I should have used 29 instead of 29.1 as the average molar mass of air molecules. I was remembering a value that worked for me in past calculations of speed of sound and resonance in loudspeaker enclosures.

  12. The simple analogy of a water tank with a hole in it is useful in a purely simple explanation, however nature is rarely simple.

    A better analogy is to imagine a water tank shaped as a cylinder and very high. In the side of the cylinder someone has cut holes – some are narrow triangles, some inverted triangles, some circular and substantial and others pinpricks. Feeding into this water tank is the sum of water from many small pipes, many of which are linked to the holes found in the side of the tank (the water is raised by an imaginary pump to feed back in). Some represent volcanoes or underwater vents, some represent random large forest fires. They are all variable over time.

    Now imagine adding a small pipe dripping water into this tank which represents anthropogenic CO2. What will happen? Remember there are a lot of cuts in the side of the cylinder, some already below waterline, some at the waterline, and some above. If the slits and holes are small enough at the waterline, the waterline will start rising, but without actually knowing the shapes of the cuts at and above the waterline one cannot predict the future. This is a better thought image of the Earth’s natural system concerning the emission and absorption of CO2 – it isn’t some silly one input, one tank, one output. That’s where the general public just imagines all this wrong.

    I for one have NEVER believed in a linear simple response to CO2. The richer the air becomes with CO2, the more complex I will expect the response to be. It would not surprise me one bit if the IPCC has silly, over-simple and completely wrong projections of future CO2 in the atmosphere – its just not something we know enough about.

    • Yup – the basic assumption is simply wrong. Atmospheric CO2 has varied naturally from about 180 to 7000 ppm, and they are trying to sell “it was all in balance,” based on highly questionable proxies (ice cores) when “we” started adding to the mix our 3-4% pittance. Sorry, that just doesn’t wash.

  13. I can easily accept the main ideas of this story like this: “In fact, it’s not 50% of the yearly anthropogenic emissions that is absorbed; it’s an amount that is equivalent to 50% of emissions.” Of course, the sinks do not react to the yearly emissions but on the real concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I have used the same kind of super-simple model like Dr. Spencer has done, link:

    My own more complicated model with 26 equations starts to deviate from this simple model after the year 2040-50. The reason is that the mixing layer of the oceans becomes gradually more saturated with the CO2, and therefore more CO2 flows back from the oceans into the atmosphere. Please note that there are huge fluxes from the atmosphere into the oceans and backward – the magnitude being about 85…90 GtC/yr.

    The RCP8.5 is totally unrealistic. If it would become true, the CO2 increase rate should increase from the present rate of 2.3 ppm/yr to about 6.3 ppm/yr. By common sense we can estimate that it will never happen.
    The carbon cycle models approved by the IPCC – Bern2.5CC and Joos et al. (2013) – show that the increase of the atmospheric CO2 amount is totally anthropogenic by nature. It would mean the permille value of about -13‰ but the observed value is about -8.5‰. The missing comments – against or in favor of my research study results – show that even the climate contrarians and skeptics do not know anything about this issue. I doubt that only a handful of real climate scientist is aware of this.

    • Antero Ollila,

      A few remarks:

      1. The ocean surface is rapidly exchanging CO2 with the atmosphere (exchange rate less than a year) and simply follows the CO2 in the atmosphere with a small lag.
      While there is a 100% change in dissolved CO2 in seawater for a 100% change in the atmosphere, per Henry’s law, free CO2 in solution in seawater is only 1%. 90% is bicarbonate and 9% is carbonate.
      If free CO2 increases, (bi)carbonate also increases, but also H+. pushing the equilibria back to free CO2. The net result is that all C species together (DIC: dissolved inorganic carbon) increases with about 10% in the ocean surface for a 100% increase in the atmosphere. As the ocean surface contains about 1000 PgC and the atmosphere about 830 PgC, the 35% extra CO2 in the atmosphere caused not more than some 40 PgC (4%) extra DIC in the ocean surface.

      For that “reservoir” the IPCC’s Bern model is right, but not for the deep oceans or vegetation. The deep oceans receive their extra CO2 from waters sinking near the poles where temperatures are low and a lot of CO2 sinks with the waters to get isolated from the surface for about 1000 years. There is no sign of saturation of the polar waters…

      2. The -13‰ is only if all human emissions would remain in the atmosphere. The exchanges with ocean surface ans seasonal with vegetation are rapid and any change in 13C/12C ratio is rapidly distributed over these three reservoirs, that plays little role.
      The important “thinning” of the human “fingerprint” is from the exchange with the deep oceans: what goes into the deep oceans is the isotopic composition of today, what comes out is the composition of ~1000 years ago. Plus the changes in the deep from dissolved rock and dropouts from the surface.

      One can estimate the amount of deep ocean exchange with the atmosphere, based on the isotopic “dilution” of the human emissions:
      Which shows about 40 PgC/year as exchange flux, independently confirmed by the rapid decay of 14C from the 1950-1960 nuclear bomb tests.
      The discrepancy before 1990 was probably from vegetation which was a slight source before 1990 and an slight, but growing CO2 sink after 1990.

  14. Roy,

    The IPCC model is based on a dead concept. The recycle theory of water and CO2 which assumes the only new source of water and CO2 that is coming into the biosphere is from volcanic eruptions. That assumption is not correct.

    You need a second scenario and some help understanding conceptual analysis for a constrained physical problem where there are piles and piles of paradoxes/anomalies.

    Salby and others in a dozen different peer reviewed papers using completely different analytical techniques have shown that atmospheric CO2 is tracking temperature changes not anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

    That is only possible if there is another large source (faucet) of CO2 that is entering the biosphere in addition to the CO2 that is emitted by volcanic eruptions.

    We have discovered there is another CO2 drain, particulate matter is falling to the bottom of the ocean where it is sequestrated.

    The Bern model assumes that ocean circulation (with hundreds of years delay) is the only method for deep sequestration of CO2 in the ocean.

    As this review summary points out, the particulate organic pool in the ocean is estimated to sink 130% of the atmospheric CO2 pool in a year.

    Carbon cycle modelling and the residence time of natural and anthropogenic atmospheric CO2: on the construction of the “Greenhouse Effect Global Warming” dogma.

    The alleged long lifetime of 500 years for carbon diffusing to the deep ocean is of no relevance to the debate on the fate of anthropogenic CO2 and the “Greenhouse Effect”, because POC (particular organic carbon; carbon pool of about 1000 giga-tonnes; some 130% of the atmospheric carbon pool) can sink to the bottom of the ocean in less than a year (Toggweiler, 1990).

    We have discovered that C14 from the bomb test is making it the deep oceans. This disproves the IPCC assumption that there is zero particulate matter being sequestrated in the deep ocean.

    Bomb C14 Found in Ocean Deepest Trenches

    ‘Bomb Carbon’ from Cold War Nuclear Tests Found in the Ocean’s Deepest Trenches

    Bottom feeders
    Organic matter in the amphipods’ guts held carbon-14, but the carbon-14 levels in the amphipods’ bodies were much higher. Over time, a diet rich in carbon-14 likely flooded the amphipods’ tissues with bomb carbon, the scientists concluded.

    Ocean circulation alone would take centuries to carry bomb carbon to the deep sea. But thanks to the ocean food chain, bomb carbon arrived at the seafloor far sooner than expected, lead study author Ning Wang, a geochemist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou, said in a statement.

    This study indicates that three times more water is being dragged down into the mantel than previously estimated.

    Seismic study reveals 3 times more water dragged into Earth’s interior

    Slow-motion collisions of tectonic plates under the ocean drag about three times more water down into the deep Earth than previously estimated, according to a first-of-its-kind seismic study that spans the Mariana Trench.

    • “Salby and others in a dozen different peer reviewed papers”
      Where is there a peer-reviewed paper from Salby on this? I’ve never seen anything in writing from Salby at all, let alone peer-reviewed.

      • Salby, M. and Titova, E., 2013, April. Relationship between CO2 and Global Temperature: Simulated vs Observed. In EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts (Vol. 15).

        The evolutions of CO2 and global-mean temperature in GCM forecast simulations are found to be isomorphic. Having identical form, the two properties are related directly. Their one-to-one relationship indicates that, in the simulations, changes in the global energy budget reduce to a highly-simplified balance. Through linear mechanics, anomalous CO2 then entirely determines anomalous global temperature. In the observed record, anomalous CO2 and global-mean temperature are also found to be related – but differently. There, the two properties are related just as strongly, but indirectly. Involving nonlinearity, the observed relationship is consistent with a different physical balance, one that prevails in the real world but not in the model world.

        Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate 2nd Ed.
        See preview on Page 68
        Murry L. Salby’s research while affiliated with Macquarie University and other places
        ML Salby at Scholar
        PS Macquarie University blocked access by Murry Salby to his research materials.
        See Salby’s rebuttal/history

        • The EGU abstract is not a peer reviewed publication. But more important, it doesn’t set out any such theory. What you have quoted is the entire publication. What does it mean?

          The textbook is also not peer-reviewed. But the section you refer to on p 68 does not expound any theory. It simply points to some past occasions where rise in temperature caused emission of CO2 (nothing new there). On the other hand, on p 21, it says:
          “More recent records evidence a human contribution to the budget of CO2. Since
          the dawn of the industrial era (late eighteenth-century), the combustion of fossil
          fuel has steadily increased the rate at which carbon dioxide is introduced into the
          atmosphere. Augmenting that source is biomass destruction, notably, in connection with the clearing of dense tropical rainforest for timber and agriculture. (This process
          produces CO2 either directly, through burning of vegetation, or indirectly, through its
          subsequent decomposition.) Interactions with the ocean and the biosphere make the
          budget of CO2 complex. Nevertheless, the involvement of human activities is strongly
          suggested by observed changes.”

          Perfectly orthodox.

          I do not see anything in your other lists that qualifies.

          • Salute!

            C’mon, Nick!!!

            So the holy gospel, true and true, unrefutable crapola by the brother-in-law crowd that depends on the same source of $$$ for their never-ending studies is our measure of merit? “peer review” is gonna be the end of “science” as we know it, and it all comes down to being published and then getting more of our tax $$$ or from a benefactor with an agenda.

            How about looking/publishing actual data from anybody willing to go do the dirty work and then let we folks make up our minds?

            Gums rants…

          • ” is our measure of merit?”
            It was the measure of merit quoted:
            “Salby and others in a dozen different peer reviewed papers”
            I just point out that it doesn’t meet it. In Salby’s case, he hasn’t even written a blog post.

      • Macquarie University apparently has still locked ALL 30 years of Salby’s research materials, books, data and computer, including what he brought from the USA. Any further update?

      • Nice try Nick. It’s not just Salby (whose research was confiscated by his Australian university).

        These analyses are of actual observed changes of atmospheric CO2, not of make-believe data. They show conclusively that CO2 is removed from the atmosphere much too fast for man’s emissions to cause the observed increase of CO2. That explains why changes of man’s emissions have not produced any change in the growth of atmospheric CO2 – not even when man’s emissions have leveled off and remained almost constant.

        Screaming ‘Human Emissions’ has now been exposed for what it has always been: a self indulgent exercise in barking up a wrong tree.

        • But where are these actual papers. The first is just a whinge about employment contracts; the second is just a blog post by Ed Berry. I don’t know what the third is; my computer blocked it saying that it bore a Trojan. The SSRN article is not a reviewed or published paper, just something placed in SSRN. And the last is a Youtube.

      • “…I’ve never seen anything in writing from Salby at all, let alone peer-reviewed…”

        Keep imploring people from outside of Australia to help. It took a handful of seconds for me to find a list of publications, including some from peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Geophysical Research Letters).

        • “It took a handful of seconds for me to find a list of publications, including some from peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Geophysical Research Letters).”

          Would you please supply that list? You have already accessed it. Not sayin’ it’s not there, just that I did a hard target search and couldn’t find those peer reviewed, non paywalled papers. I’ll work on my search skills…

        • Unfortunately, nothing about what he was talking about in his different lectures in Europa (followed one of them in the London Parliament). I had a lot of remarks on his points, but he never wrote them down for discussion, not here not elsewhere…

    • “We have discovered there is another CO2 drain, particulate matter is falling to the bottom of the ocean where it is sequestrated.”

      It is not permanently sequestrated at the present time, since the deep ocean is well oxygenated. The organic material is ingested by deep-sea organisms, ultimately metabolized as CO2, and finally returned to the surface by upwelling, but with a 500-1000 year delay.

      During hothouse climate intervals the deep ocean was periodically dysoxic or anoxic and huge amounts of organic material were sequestrated as black shales.

  15. Are you really saying that you have spotted a correcting mechanism for keeping CO2 within limits? Or am I over simplifying your findings?

  16. So nature in the form plants, plankton, algae, and bacteria spout-up and start to proliferate just after a little more CO2 gets into atmosphere.
    And that is a crisis for some.

  17. Quote: “The IPCC model is based on a dead concept. The recycle theory of water and CO2 which assumes the only new source of water and CO2 that is coming into the biosphere is from volcanic eruptions”. This claim is not true. Both Bern2.5CC and the Joos et al. (2013) apply real CO2 emissions and even the CO2 emissions of land-use.

    Another claim. “The Bern model assumes that ocean circulation (with hundreds of years delay) is the only method for deep sequestration of CO2 in the ocean.” I think also that this assumption is not correct. The cold high-latitude seas absorb CO2 about 85-90GtC/yr, the cold ocean’s currents take this amount in the depths of 2-4 km to the tropical ocean and thereafter the warmer ocean water absolves the same amount back into the atmosphere. Humlum et al. have shown that the time delay between the ocean temperature and the atmospheric CO2 concentration is 11 months.

    The main incorrect assumption of these two IPCC models is the Revelle factor limited anthropogenic CO2 sequestration rate of 2.2…2.4 GtC/yr. Because of this limitation, the anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is much too great.

    • Antero,

      You do not understand.

      The Bern equation has been falsified by the observations. The Bern model is incorrect at the level of assumptions.

      The finding that the bomb C14 is being sequestrated in the deepest oceans falsifies the Bern equation as the Bern equations assumes zero falling particulate matter in the oceans. (See my above comment to a link)

      There are a dozen peer reviewed papers that disproved the Bern equation which makes sense as it is incorrect at the level of assumptions.

      This paper for example looked at how atmospheric CO2 is changing on a yearly basis comparing the Northern Hemisphere to Southern Hemisphere changes and found that atmospheric CO2 changes are tracking planetary temperature changes not anthropogenic CO2 changes.

      The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature

      6. CO2 released from anthropogene sources apparently have little influence on the observed changes in atmospheric CO2, and changes in atmospheric CO2 are not tracking changes in human emissions.

      Analyses of a pole-to-pole transect of atmospheric CO2 records suggest that changes in atmospheric CO2 are initiated south of the Equator, but probably not far from the Equator, and from there spreads towards the two poles within a year or so (Fig. 13).

      This observation specifically points towards the oceans at or south of the Equator as an important source area for observed changes in atmospheric CO2.

      The major release of anthropogene CO2 is taking place at midlatitudes in the Northern Hemisphere (Fig. 12), but the north-south transect investigated show no indication of the main change signal in atmospheric CO2 originating here.

      The main signal must therefore be caused by something else.

      A similar conclusion, but based on studies of the residence time of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere, was reached by Segalstad (1996) and Essenhigh (2009).

      • It’s about time. 🙂

        My January 2008 paper predates Humlum et al 2013 by five years. The cause of the ~9 month lag of atmospheric CO2 changes after atmospheric temperature changes results from the close relationship of the velocity dCO2/dt vs atm. temperature.

        By Allan M.R. MacRae, January 2008

        My June 2019 paper explains why the lag of atm. CO2 changes after atm. temperature changes is ~9 months.

        by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., June 15, 2019

        • Just goes to show how even something obvious will be virulently resisted if it would require people to rethink conclusions they settled on long ago.

          “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”
          – Leo Tolstoy

          • Hi Bart and thank you for your Tolstoy quote – highly appropriate.

            Dr Ed Berry has this important paper in preprint, with interesting discussions. I am still digesting it, but some of the smartest people I know think he’s correct.

            From the Abstract:
            “Human emissions through 2019 have added only 31 ppm to atmospheric CO2 while nature has added 100 ppm.”

            by Edwin X Berry, Ph.D., Physics

            The scientific basis for the effect of human carbon dioxide on atmospheric carbon dioxide rests upon correctly calculating the human carbon cycle. This paper uses the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) carbon-cycle data and allows IPCC’s assumption that the CO2 level in 1750 was 280 ppm. It derives a framework to calculate carbon cycles. It makes minor corrections to IPCC’s time constants for the natural carbon cycle to make IPCC’s flows consistent with its levels. It shows IPCC’s human carbon cycle contains significant, obvious errors. It uses IPCC’s time constants for natural carbon to recalculate the human carbon cycle. The human and natural time constants must be the same because nature must treat human and natural carbon the same. The results show human emissions have added a negligible one percent to the carbon in the carbon cycle while nature has added 3 percent, likely due to natural warming since the Little Ice Age. Human emissions through 2019 have added only 31 ppm to atmospheric CO2 while nature has added 100 ppm. If human emissions were stopped in 2020, then by 2100 only 8 ppm of human CO2 would remain in the atmosphere.

      • William,

        You did not point out, what I do not understand. You write like this: “The recycle theory of water and CO2 which assumes the only new source of water and CO2 that is coming into the biosphere is from volcanic eruptions”. This is a very odd claim.

        I know that Bern2.5CC uses fossil emissions and land-use changes as only sources of CO2 emissions using scenarios of AR4 for simulations. The model itself – like any other model – do not depend on the amount and sources of CO2 emissions. The magnitude of emissions depend only on the selected scenario for each simulation.

        • Mathematical models can never work if they are incorrect at the level of concepts.

          It is possible to prove concepts and kill theories using only observations (no math) by looking for paradoxes and then finding a natural explanation for the paradoxes. This is interesting for a general audience because it is non mathematical and because of the number of observations that support the concept.

          The physical problem of where does the earth’s water and CO2 come from for all geological time starts with the earth getting struck by a Mars size object when it was roughly 100 million years ago.

          That collision formed the moon and heated the surface of the earth to 700C and removed most of the water from the mantel.

          The puzzle is where and when does the water come to cover 70% of the earth with water.

          This problem is made worst as we have found large amounts of water are being dragged down into the mantel by the ocean plates as they are pushed under the lighter continental sedimentary rock.

          The impact also caused the earth’s heavy metals to sink to the core of the planet. Why do we find concentrations of heavy metals that are million times more concentrated than the mantel. Why are there heavy metals in oil and bituminous coal?

          The IPCC assumes the only natural ‘new’ source of CO2 and water that is coming into the atmosphere is from volcanic eruptions. That assumption has been proven incorrect based on hundreds of observations.

          For example, as noted in my above quote C14 from the bomb test has made it to the deep ocean which disproves the IPCC assumption that there is zero particulate matter that is being sequestrated in the deep ocean

          This is another paper that looks at the C12/C13 ratio in the atmosphere and finds that there is a large source of low C12 that is entering the atmosphere at the same time as El Ninos.

          The data indicates the same as the phase analysis (see my comment above) that the entire anthropogenic CO2 emissions are absorbed in the same year they are emitted.


          The conventional representation of the impact on the atmosphere of the use of fossil fuels is to state that the annual increases in concentration of CO2 come from fossil fuels and the balance of some 50% of fossil fuel CO2 is absorbed in the oceans or on land by physical and chemical processes. An examination of the data from:

          i) measurements of the fractionation of CO2 by way of Carbon-12 and Carbon-13 isotopes,

          ii) the seasonal variations of the concentration of CO2 in the Northern Hemisphere and

          iii) the time delay between Northern and Southern Hemisphere variations in CO2, raises questions about the conventional explanation of the source of increased atmospheric CO2.

          The results suggest that El Nino and the Southern Oscillation events produce major changes in the carbon isotope ratio in the atmosphere.

          This does not favour the continuous increase of CO2 from the use of fossil fuels as the source of isotope ratio changes.

          The constancy of seasonal variations in CO2 and the lack of time delays between the hemispheres suggest that fossil fuel derived CO2 is almost totally absorbed locally in the year it is emitted.

          This implies that natural variability of the climate is the prime cause of increasing CO2, not the emissions of CO2 from the use of fossil fuels.

    • Antero Ollila,

      The Revelle/buffer factor that is used by the IPCC is right and proven for the ocean surface.
      If you look at the growth of DIC (dissolved inorganic carbon) in the ocean surface and compare that to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, the increase in the surface is only about 10% of the increase in the atmosphere. See Fig. 3 in Bates e.a.:

      For the sink places near the poles, the Revelle factor is not important at all, as the pCO2 difference between atmosphere (~410 microatm) and cold waters (~150 microatm) still is enormous and only the slow uptake of CO2 by the sinking waters is the limiting factor…

  18. But I thought positive feedback loops were meant to increase co2 faster due to melting permafrost.
    Is Greta wrong? Or is a qualified climate scientist wrong?

  19. Just like we were surprised to see how much CO2 nature has absorbed, we will be equally amazed how much more can be absorb. Mother Nature is amazingly resilient. We are learning new things everyday, and I thank Roy for quantifying and graphing current thinking. While not limitless, we now know nature’s ability to “sink” excess CO2 is huge, and to put it in “alarmist rhetoric” … nature’s CO2 sinks are alarmingly efficient.

  20. With respect to CO2 consumption, is the planetary plant world a linear model? Are greenhouses even linear? I think nature has a few surprises that fossils and geochemistry cannot fully explain.

    • In theory maybe, in practice, never. Photosynthesis has limiting factors such as water for example. And of course sunlight.

  21. First off, it is clear the BernSCM v1.0 CO2 model presented in this paper…
    “The Bern Simple Climate Model (BernSCM) v1.0: an extensible and fully documented open-source re-implementation of the Bern reduced-form model for global carbon cycle–climate simulations” (by Kuno M. Strassmann and Fortunat Joosat University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland)

    is a failure. It is simpler construct of earlier more complex Bern model of carbon cycle.

    It was a failure while it was under-review in late 2017 before it was published in 2018. It is utterly wrong. Yet it is what the IPCC and the consensus establishment needs to maintain the climate scam on human FF emissions –> atmospheric CO2 growth (MLO record) –> LWIR forcing growth –> temperature and everything else they claim.

    A very simple demonstration of the crux of this paradigm failure can be seen in this NOAA/ESRL data graphic:

    Note the Barrow Alaska seasonal dynamic range ~22 ppm, peak to trough. The trough (the summer low pt) is in August, the peak of Arctic heating and near sea ice minimum. Yet with all that “warming exposed” seawater and exposed decaying tundra, CO2 is falling very rapidly across the Arctic.

    Another informative graphic to show what is happening is this detrended seasonal cycle and the smoothed curve (red).
    This detrended graphic stops at 2012, but it shows in 2000, the seasonal swing was (roughly) 15.5 ppm (red, smoothed line), but by 2011 that seasonal swing had increased to almost 20 ppm. And back to the previous graph, you can see that the 2019 seasonal swing was almost 22 ppm at Barrow.

    Conclusions: The high latitude biosphere is being highly productive and not only taking in lots of CO2 , it’s summer time drawdown rate is increasing, even as the Arctic has warmed. Not inspite of the warming, but probably EXACTLY because the Arctic has warmed has this drawdown increased over the last 2 decades. Even though more warming summer open water should, from a purely geophysical standpoint, be outgassing more CO2 with each year, that is not what appears to be happening.

    This is the opposite behavior predicted by the Bern Model for a warming high latitudes of the Arctic. The Bern Model is failure but the IPCC’s AR6 WG1 report will most certainly base all its emissions-CO2 growth scenarios on in their CMIP6 model runs. That’s IPCC junk science at work.

    • Quote: “Even though more warming summer open water should, from a purely geophysical standpoint, be outgassing more CO2 with each year, that is not what appears to be happening.”

      The common understanding is that the open high-latitude ocean waters absorb CO2 and the warm tropical waters absolve CO2. Could an explanation be that´more open ocean water increases the CO2 absorption?

      • Yes, more open water is not just a chemical sink (Henry’s Law), but also the biological productivity is greatly increasing. More phytoplankton, more CO2 sequestration.

        “Phytoplankton Blooms are Moving into New Territory in the Arctic Ocean.”

        and the study itself:
        Northward Expansion and Intensification of Phytoplankton Growth During the Early Ice‐Free Season in Arctic

        The authors admit this in their discussion regarding the phytoplankton spring bloom (PSB):

        “At the highest latitude (i.e., >80°N), the PSB develops around early September (on average the 250th day of year, result not shown). “

        NH summer solstice is day 172 (June 21). So this high latitude PSB is happening 78 days after peak sun angle, and the days are rapidly shrinking, air temperatures are beginning to fall and hard freezes return starting in mid-August, with a low a sun angle at day 250 (~7 September). 2 weeks around that date are when Barrow CO2 data shows drawdown (sink) rate is peaking. Clearly this is biological drawdown of immense proportions.

        • Plants in a glass house which are supplied by a level controlled reservoir shows water consumption responds to changes in cloud cover on a sunny day within 15 minutes. When a cloud passes over the greenhouse water consumption declines and when the sun shines again , it increase. On oceans where UV is high , phytoplankton could increase photosynthesis within 15 minutes. I would suggest one would need a geostationary satellite taking images every 15 minutes to measure plankton growth. Where there are rapid fluctuations plankton will probably store starch but not necessarily increase in numbers. Consequently, two different plankton could contain different levels of carbons. How deep within the oceans do plankton exist and how deep can the measurement be made ?
          A satellite may measure coverage of plants but it will not measure total mass of roots. Most plants in arid and sem-arid areas use roots for storage. Often only experienced Bush people can recognise that beneath a small withered stick lies succulent water and carbohydrate bearing roots.

          in summary, rapid increases in food supply encourage organisms to lay down reserves. Only only when there is prolonged increase in food supply do organisms reproduce.

          In general, computer modellers have taken over from scientists with field experience.

  22. This should come as no real surprise given the rapidity and degree of seasonal decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide. It’s good to see my suspicions are justified as the mathematics is well beyond me. Will this finding also be ignored by climate alarmists or is that just another of my suspicions?

  23. Another factor to consider. Photosynthesis reaction rate increases with increasing CO2 concentration

    • Hi Mike McHenry, – The effect of elevated CO2 (eCO2) is not simply a linear increase in carbon assimilation (how fast leaves photosynthesized). I will cite an example of what relates to rate of photosynthesis gauged by it’s results; it is for a tree, so am not declaring a dynamic for crops (although suspect some extrapolation of the dynamic is likely).

      At ambient CO2 8 years old European Beach trees during the morning on sunny days assimilated an average of 14.8 microMoles CO2/ & during afternoons on sunny days assimilated an average of 16.2 microMoles CO2/

      During sunny days eCO2 definitely did allow the same kind of trees to perform more photosynthesis is the same amounts of time. During sunny mornings an average of 17.8 microMoles C02/ was assimilated & during sunny afternoons an average of 21.5 microMoles CO2/ was assimilated.

      The eC02 average sunny days total assimilation was 72 Moles CO2/ Which is more than the ambient CO2 average sunny days assimilation total of 53.5 Moles CO2/

      However, under cloudy conditions the photosynthetic results reversed. Then eCO2 during cloudy mornings only an average of 9.8 microMoles CO2/ was assimilated; verses 12.3 microMoles CO2/ at ambient CO2 on cloudy mornings.

      And likewise counter-intuitively during cloudy afternoons ambient CO2 was performing even more photosynthesis by assimilating an average of 15.7 microMoles CO1/; verses 9.4 microMoles CO2/ at eCO2 on cloudy afternoons.

      During cloudy days the tees grown at ambient CO2 assimilated an average of 26.7 Moles/ CO2/ Which is more than the average 17.5 Moles CO2/ they assimilated under eCO2.

      As per (2014) “Impact of elevated CO2 concentration on dynamics of leaf photosynthesis in Fagus sylvatica is modulated by sky conditions”; free full text with much more data available on-line.

  24. RCP8.5 includes permafrost melting effects and that is one reason for a very high CO2 increase in the atmosphere. The question is if that is it a realistic scenario to be called “Business as usual”. The BAU scenario is much closer to the present CO2 growth rate.

    • That assumption is why the RCP is so flawed. The assumption that CO2 will go up if permafrost melts is bass-ackwards. If permafrost melts, trees grow rapidly in the space available. This is easily demonstrated by pointing out that centuries ago all of central Canada was permafrost and now it is covered with forests (where it is warm enough).

      The “methane bomb” was supposed to arise from the same permafrost areas, but it turns quickly into CO2 and is absorbed by the new tree growth. Think for a moment about where the methane comes from – the rotting of vegetation currently frozen in the ice. Well…where did it come from? It grew there the last time it was much warming than now, a few thousand years ago.

      Nuff said.

      • Crispin,
        I think that the concern about permafrost is from the deposits in Siberia, not Canada. In Canada, the glaciers removed all the ground cover so there can only be a few thousand years of material there. Siberia wasn’t covered by glaciers during the most recent glaciation.

  25. I used Ernst Georg Beck’s data to argue the average CO2 level was 360 ppm in the 1800’s and there were spikes to 550 ppm in 1825 and 1942. One Alarmist argued back that nobody accepted Becks graphs because he couldn’t provide the means by which the CO2 level fell back to normal in such a short period of time. If this article is correct then IMHO that objection to Beck’s work has been answered. I also remember reading another article a few years ago that the global tree inventory had been underestimated fourfold. That makes me suspect the IPCC might not have updated their models to correct for that miscalculation.

    • Beck’s measurements are of localized CO2 levels that are not representative of overall atmospheric CO2. One reason this happens is that the surface-level atmosphere in and shortly downwind of land areas with active biomass can deviate significantly from overall atmospheric CO2 due to regional sourcing/sinking of CO2. This regional deviation of surface-level and near-surface CO2 has some tendency to have a unidirectional component, upwards. This happens because when the biomass is sinking CO2, there is usually sunlight and the surface-level air is usually mixing with the air in the kilometer or two above the surface due to convection, and when the biomass is sourcing CO2 there is often little or no sunlight and convection is less likely.

    • Chris Hoff,

      Sorry, but there were no CO2 spikes in at least 1942, which I have thoroughly examined and discussed with the late Ernst Beck.
      The problem is not the measurements which were reasonably accurate, the problem is where was measured: in the middle of towns, vegetation,… Where you can find any level from 250 to 500 ppmv, depending of wind speed, time of the day, traffic,…

      Nevertheless, the removal rate of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere above the long time equilibrium between ocean surface and atmosphere for the average ocean surface temperature is quite linear.

      • My other debate point was the NASA water vapor survey. The one that combined 4 weather balloon studies and satellite data, showing a 1% drop in upper atmosphere water vapor over the last 40 years and argued this would cause more cooling than warming. Perhaps as the water vapor declines it’s pulling down the extra CO2 with it.

        • Chris Hoff,

          I have no point on that, only that CO2 and water vapor act independent of each other and that the solubility of CO2 in fresh water drops/clouds/rain at 0.0004 atm pCO2 is extremely low…
          If condensed out of a lot of m3 of air, the difference in CO2 level would be too small to measure.
          If these drops fall on the surface, the local CO2 level in the first meter may increase with 1 ppmv if all that water evaporates and the dissolved CO2 is set free…

    • The concentration in the northern hemisphere falls rapidly between seasons. Why is it so hard to believe that the warming from the very cold period around 1815 was not over and all the plants grew better?

  26. The situation described in the post makes excellent sense when the entire biosphere is considered. I recently did a review of the past research on some of the primary crop plants and most common tree species to find out what the optimal atmospheric CO2 concentrations were for these species. The optimal level was consistently between 750 and 1000 ppm. Some phytoplankon species go much higher.

    It would appear that current CO2 levels and higher should dramatically increase plant growth, and both balance future emissions and provide food and products for humanity’s needs in the future. Perhaps we should focus on removing pollution and ignore CO2. Labeling CO3 as a pollutant was a very ignorant and ridiculous step.

    • The Earth is greening and even the Joos et al. (2013) accepts this as a fact. Otherwise, they cannot close the carbon budget. It has been estimated that the present higher CO2 concentration has increased crops by 10-15 %. During recent years all-time high crops have been reported from the warmest countries like India, Brazil, and Egypt.

  27. My previous post from a few days ago showed the performance of a simple CO2 budget model that, when forced with estimates of yearly anthropogenic emissions, very closely matches the yearly average Mauna Loa CO2 observations during 1959-2019.

    That shouldn’t surprise anyone, ….. given the fact estimates of yearly anthropogenic emissions were formulated specifically to match with the yearly average Mauna Loa CO2 observations. “DUH”, no one ever estimated yearly anthropogenic emissions until a few years after Keeling provided them a “target” to shoot at.

    And it makes no matter anyway because yearly anthropogenic CO2 emissions are surely less than 5% of all CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

    The fact of the matter is, iffen the earth was not “tilted” on its axis ….. there would not be a biyearly (seasonal) cycling of an average 6 ppm atmospheric CO2 as defined by the KC Graph.

  28. “The CO2 budget model I described here and here removes atmospheric CO2 at a rate proportional to how high the CO2 concentration is above a background level nature is trying to “relax” to, a reasonable physical expectation that is supported by observational data.”

    I think that is where it goes wrong. It is not a reasonable physical expectation. It says that the 280 ppm of a century ago is somehow enshrined in the physics. Diffusion does not work like that.

    The model would be right if the excess CO2 were diffusing through a resistive layer which itself held none of it, into a sink which stayed at the previous equilibrium conditions. But it isn’t like that. At each stage in the ocean the CO2 is diffusing into a region where the CO2 levels have already increased. The concentration gradients are reduced by the accumulation of past diffusion, and so the flux is lowered. Past CO2 influx gets in the way of current influx. And the memory of that past 280 ppm attenuates.

    • To put it in terms of the faucet/tank/drain model, a diffusion is not just one tank. It is a whole series, with each draining into the next. And the drain flux is proportional to the pressure difference between tanks. So as the second tank fills up, the first drains more slowly, and so on down. The pathway is more resistive than one where the tanks drains into an infinite sink.

      • If the sinks were all geophysical your point is a valid concern on the filling of sinks and ultimately saturating and a decreasing sink flux.

        But that is not what is happening. The Earth of course is not a sterile geosphere. There is quite significant consumer of CO2 at play. Seasonal CO2 flux rates are increasing. Clearly the biological sinks are kicking in drawing down ever higher amounts of carbon to be sequestered, either into the food chain (greening the biosphere), or to sink in to the ocean depths as dissolved organic carbon, or as sequestered-decaying organic matter on land (like the high Arctic).

        Life has been altering the very nature of this planet for at least ~2.5 billion years and will continue to do so.

        • The point is the arithmetic of working on the excess. The deep ocean does have a memory of the 280 ppm that it was in equilibrium many years ago, so there is some basis for relating change to the excess. But not with a constant resistance, because as time goes on, CO2 has to diffuse further to reach parts where that ancient equilibrium works. That increase the diffusive resistance.

          Plants don’t have such a memory (of280) at all. They may have some other non-linear response to rising CO2, but you’d have to work it out. The main thing is that the biosphere is too small to absorb a whole lot more CO2. Our total emission to date is about equal to all the carbon in the biosphere.

          • The time scale of deep ocean (hundreds of years) will never been seen (separable) on top of the much larger faster biological responses (years, decades).

          • The ocean has been doing most of the absorption. If plants had absorbed the non-airborne fraction of our emissions, the biomass would have increased by at least 50%, and we would have noticed. The top 100 m of ocean are quite sufficient to absorb that fraction. But as they build up CO2 content, the rate slows.

          • “The top 100 m of ocean are quite sufficient to absorb that fraction.”

            And, more. Much more. It is assumed that they are absorbing only 50% because that is in superficial agreement with observations.

          • Nick,

            Look at the 21st century flux rates at

            The scale chosen for the oceans peaks at -30
            grams carbon per square meter per year.

            Much of both the US and China both have been drawing down significant amounts of CO2 since 2001. The scale for land flux goes down to -120 grams carbon per square meter per year. So on a per square meter basis, land has at least 4x the potential to draw down CO2 than the oceans.

            Other detail level studies have shown much (50%?) of US and China’s drawdown is taking place on cropland. Newly formed forests also have a significant drawdown, especially in China where large amounts of new forests exist.

            Cropland by definition has no annual increase in above ground biomass. That is only annual plants are grown and above ground biomass effectively returns to zero at least once a year.

            That leaves soil organic carbon as the repository that is accumulating much of the carbon being drawn down from the atmosphere.

            While global biomass is around 550 GT carbon, the global soil carbon repository is about 2,000 GT carbon in the top meter of soil and about 3,000 GT carbon in the top 2 meters of soil. The current atmospheric carbon surplus above 1850 is 250-300 GT carbon, so the top 2 meters of soil holds 10x the atmospheric carbon increase since 1850.

            [Accuracy on the global soil carbon estimate is very poor, so adding another digit to the estimate is a false significant digit.]

            Anyway, a truly large and underappreciated carbon flux is from the atmosphere into plants and then from plants into the soil. And agricultural soil under the management of US and Chinese farmers is the world’s densest negative CO2 flux.

            For 2001-2018: US and Chinese cropland is 4x more dense per square meter than the ocean surface.

            Farming techniques in both the US and China are advancing rapidly to drawdown and sequester even more carbon per square meter.

            Peer reviewed studies of Gabe Brown’s farm in North Dakota document an astounding 2.475 KG carbon per square meter buildup per year in recent years!

            I’m not aware of any other farm globally that has achieved that, but Dr. David C Johnson has achieved 1.0 KG carbon per square meter drawdown in a 7 year field study.

            CO2 lifecycle models that ignore the impact of human managed agricultural land will definitely miss the mark.

          • Nick Stokes – February 5, 2020 at 4:40 pm

            The deep ocean does have a memory of the 280 ppm (CO2) that it was in equilibrium many years ago,

            WOW, a memory, huh?

            Nick, does the ocean also remember how many tons of whale feces has passed through it on the way to the bottom?

            Iffen that CO2 was like the whale feces …… it would also be on the bottom of the ocean and we wouldn’t have to worrying about it. 😊

          • Nick Stokes,
            There is a limit in what the ocean surface can absorb as CO2. While a 100% change of CO2 in the atmosphere gives a 100% change of CO2 in solution, CO2 in solution is only 1% of total inorganic carbon (DIC) in solution, the rest is 90% bicarbonate and 9% carbonate. Only pure dissolved CO2 counts for Henry’s law. With carbon chemistry going to both sides, more CO2 also means more (bi)carbonate, but also more H+. pushing the equilibria back to dissolved CO2 gas. That gives that a 100% change in the atmosphere is followed by only an about 10% change of total DIC in the ocean surface. That is the Revelle/buffer factor, which shows that seawater can absorb 10 times more CO2 than fresh water (which contains 99% CO2 in solution for 100% DIC), but 10 times less than expected from the increase in the atmosphere.

            As the surface contains about 1000 PgC and the atmosphere about 830 Pg, the 35% increase in the atmosphere induced not more than 40 PgC extra in the ocean’s surface.
            That can be calculated from the results in DIC from several ocean stations in the last decades. See Fig. 3 in Bates e.a.:

            Thus indeed, the ocean surface is isolating the deep oceans from more uptake and the only direct uptake is by the sinking waters near the poles, but these are limited in surface and quantity of CO2 that they can absorb and mix into the deep oceans.

            Nevertheless the limits, still 2% of the partial pressure difference between atmosphere and oceans in equilibrium for the average temperature are absorbed per year by the deep oceans and vegetation about half for each.

          • “Nick, does the ocean also remember how many tons of whale feces has passed through it on the way to the bottom?”

            Yes. It is all ultimatel consumed by deep-sea organisms. Google “Whale Fall”.

            “Iffen that CO2 was like the whale feces …… it would also be on the bottom of the ocean and we wouldn’t have to worrying about it. ”

            Not quite. It will be metabolized as CO2 and returned to the surface in 1,000 years or so. And so will the CO2 in the deep ocean.

            All that goes around, comes around. sometime.

          • There is a limit in what the ocean surface can absorb as CO2.

            Ferdinand, ….. are you claiming that there is a specifically limited amount of “carbonic acid” that can be produced in any volume of water?

            I mean like, a swimming pool full of H2O can only be partially converted to H2CO3, such that when the specified ratio of carbonic acid to water has been achieved, ….. no more CO2 will be absorbed into the water, …… like so … (50 H20 + 40 CO2 = 13 H2CO3 + 37 H20 + 27 CO2)

          • tty, …. remembering the total quantity of whale feces ……. and consuming whale feces is a horse of a different color.


          • Samuel,

            For each gas in the atmosphere, there is a specific ratio of gas dissolved in a liquid at a given temperature. That is Henry’s law, established a few hundred years ago, see here for different gases at 1 bar pressure for that gas in the atmosphere and different temperatures:

            The ratio (Henry’s constant) remains the same whatever the further composition of the atmosphere from near vacuum, all but a part of N2 or O2 or a mix, to 100% of the gas in question.
            For CO2 at 0,00041 bar pressure (410 ppmv) and 20ºC, thus 0.0004 * 1.7 g/l or about 0.7 mg/l CO2 dissolves in fresh water and then it stops, as the above ratio is reached as a mix of pure CO2 in solution and H2CO3.

            Why not more? In principle, H2CO3 dissociates into H+ and HCO3- and further in H+ and CO3 –. That are equilibrium reactions and as the pH lowers (CO2 in fresh water is at about pH 4 if I remember well – but can be wrong), the reactions are pushed back to H2CO3 and free CO2. That makes that the solubility of CO2 in fresh water is very limited.

            In seawater free CO2/H2CO3 are only 1% of total dissolved inorganic carbon, therefore seawater can dissolve 10 times more CO2 than fresh water before the increase in H+ stops the dissolution into bicarbonates and carbonates.

          • Ferdinand, ….. YOU IGNORED MY QUESTIOLN OF …….. “are you claiming that there is a specifically limited amount of “carbonic acid” that can be produced in any volume of water?

            HA, a usual, you head for the “roundhouse” to make sure no one can “corner” you.

    • ” At each stage in the ocean the CO2 is diffusing into a region where the CO2 levels have already increased. The concentration gradients are reduced by the accumulation of past diffusion, and so the flux is lowered.”

      This isn’t true if the concentration gradient remains the same because of increased CO2 in the source. You can’t have it both ways. If CO2 in the atmosphere is going up then the gradient if affected by that increase. Your assertion requires the CO2 concentration to be stagnant or decreasing.

      And your assertion is absolutely not true for that part of the biosphere that uses CO2 for food, e.g. plankton, trees, grass, etc. If I have one plant this year and it sinks X amount of CO2 and then next year I have two plants just how much CO2 will the two plants sink?

      • “This isn’t true if the concentration gradient remains the same”
        It can’t remain the same. CO2 is accumulating in the upper layers. That diminishes the gradient. That is a version of the CO2 already there getting in the way of new CO2.

        • Off by a factor of 4? Surely the idea that sequestration will suddenly drop 75% next year is daft?

          Also, what of ocean circulation? Surface CO2 is being constantly buried in the deep ocean where it has no effect reducing the gradient wrt the atmosphere.

          Also, your point is dependent on the size of the ocean sink relative to the size of the atmosphere wrt CO2. If the ocean sink is huge – which it is if rightly coupled to the deep ocean – then Dr. Spencer’s model makes sense.

          • “Also, your point is dependent on the size of the ocean sink relative to the size of the atmosphere wrt CO2.”
            No, it isn’t. All it means is that as excess CO2 is absorbed by the sea, the concentration gradient is reduced. There is still a potentially very large sink at depth, but the CO2 has to diffuse through a thicker layer of sea to get there.

          • Nick Stokes,

            Only the gradient with the ocean surface is reduced, and in average is only 7 microatm higher in the atmosphere than in the ocean surface. The ocean surface simply follows the atmosphere at high speed (less than a year exchange rate) See Feely e.a.:
   and following pages
            For the deep ocean exchanges that plays no role as in the polar regions there is an intensive mix with deep ocean waters and at the cold temperatures the pCO2 of the oceans remains down to 150 microatm and the higher the pCO2 in the atmosphere, the higher the uptake, linear with the difference.
            If all human CO2 until now would dissolve in the deep oceans, the total carbon would increase with 1%, thus back in equilibrium with the atmosphere that gives some 3 ppmv extra…

            The error that the Bern model made is assuming that the whole surface gets saturated, including the sink places, which is certainly not true for the far future.

          • “For the deep ocean exchanges…”
            Yes, but what lies between the surface and the deep ocean? Surface concentration has risen, at depth it hasn’t changed. There is a gradient between them, which carries the flux of CO2 to deeper layers. And as that flux continues, it raises the CO2 concentration along its path. That in turn reduces the gradient, and the flux.

            That is the problem with Roy Spencer’s tank/drain model. The output is not to an infinite sink via a fixed resistance. Impedance to outflow increases with time.

          • Nick Stokes,

            – The mean ocean surface pCO2 increased from about 290 μatm (pre-industrial) to about 400 μatm today in parallel with the increase in the atmosphere which is average 7 μatm higher than in the surface.
            – The ocean’s surface pCO2 at the sink places remained at about 150 μatm, because the sink rate still is directly proportional to the increased pressure in the atmosphere above the long time equilibrium.
            – There is a direct exchange between deep oceans and atmosphere largely bypassing 90% of the rest of the ocean surface, for each direct link: about 5% for sink area’s and 5% for upwelling area’s.
            – The problem in the Bern model is that it assumes that the ocean mixed layer is the same over the full ocean surface…

        • Nick, thanks for your gentle, superterranean guidance, and your willingness to let these folks come to the light at their own pace. I think your easy touch it will pay dividends over the long, long, haul…

        • tim: ““This isn’t true if the concentration gradient remains the same”

          Nick: “It can’t remain the same. CO2 is accumulating in the upper layers. That diminishes the gradient. That is a version of the CO2 already there getting in the way of new CO2.”

          tim actually said: “This isn’t true if the concentration gradient remains the same because of increased CO2 in the source. ”

          If the CO2 concentration is increasing in the atmosphere, i.e. the source, then the gradient can certainly remain the same if the growth rate is equal to the absorption rate.

          Nice job of selective quoting! Nice job of avoiding the actual issue!

          I expected nothing less from you. I wasn’t disappointed.

    • It is not merely diffusion. It is forced. CO2 is physically transported throughout the flows of the THC. That transport is slow to change, and it has momentum that, over any relatively short timeline (centuries), enforces a fairly steady outcome.

      One can, in theory, derive a stationary system description and a secondary set of perturbation equations for such a scenario. The perturbation equations would have the stationary solution as its equilibrium condition.

    • You might be right but you are arguing a different point. The question is whether hexrate of removal of CO2 is based on the existing concentration or the additions being made.

      Logically, it is the former. What the rate is and why, is a follow on question.

  29. Let me make two quick observations.

    First, if Pat Frank were around to look at this, he would naturally like to know what accuracy, or even what precision one might expect of future CO2 projections from models. There are a scad of unknowns, from historical releases of CO2, manmade and not, the various means by which Earth sequesters CO2 (biosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere), and so forth. Start propagating just the known uncertainties in these mechanisms and one might be surprised at the result. There are of course biases in what we think we know and then unknown unknowns.

    Second, I have mentioned Ferren MacIntyre before, but I read a most interesting exposition of his, ages ago, in which he showed how a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere (from 320ppm at the time, 1970) would be handled by the oceans. The surface buffer system works with a short time constant of perhaps 20 years (I once calculated the half-life as 10 years, but the 1/e time is a bit longer), but in the long term the deep oceans get involved. Surface waters which drain into the oceans carry bicarbonate and carbonates. Without some means of recycling CO2 back to the atmosphere the oceans would come to resemble something like the Great Salt Lake (pH varying between 8 and 9.6 depending on locale but generally high) instead of 7.4 to 8.2 typical of ocean and the atmosphere would become deprived of CO2. The return is done in the deep ocean. MacIntyre was writing at a time before we knew much about the ocean hot springs on the mid-ocean ridges, which control a good deal of ocean chemistry, but the idea is just the same. Clay and ocean crust exchange hydrogen ions in the ocean for ions like Na, Ca, Mg and CO2 gets returned to the atmosphere. Adding more CO2 to the surface ocean simply shifts equilibrium a bit, but most of the added CO2 will be buried in the deep ocean by some means (detritus, shells, etc). MacIntyre calculated the doubling 320ppm to 640ppm would result in an eventual level of 390ppm by the time equilibrium was re-established.

    I do not know what the time scales for the deep ocean reactions are, but the time scale of overturning is pretty long. Some of the bottom waters I have read, returns to the surface in 1,000 to 5,000 years, but if the deep ocean is becoming involved in handling the input of extra CO2 to the atmosphere, then perhaps there is an explanation for why nature seems to be absorbing more than we thought. The question is, what is the rate that CO2 in some sequestered form settles into the abyss, and how long does it take for some fraction of this to return to the atmosphere?

  30. This approach to the carbon cycle and the evolution of atmospheric CO2 are well discussed by Murry Salby at
    Dr. Ed Berry addresses the IPCC Bern model and finds it lacking at . Much of what Dr. Spencer states in this post is echoed in the referenced presentations. One assumption he has made I think is wrong is that his model “deals with the empirical observation that nature removes excess CO2 at a rate of 2.3%/yr of the atmospheric excess above 295 ppm.” There is good evidence that sinks are working at lower concentrations and are not responsive to some arbitrary condition. If CO2 goes below 295 the sinks will not become constant and unaffected by the concentration. Further if CO2 goes to 0 there can be no absorption but Spencer’s model implies there will be.

    • Further if CO2 goes to 0 there can be no absorption but Spencer’s model implies there will be.

      Why do you say that? Spencer’s model says that net absorption becomes 0 as soon as CO2 levels reach 295ppm. If concentration goes lower than 295ppm you do not have net absorption but net emission. And needless to say, nobody expects the formula to work all the way down to 0ppm. There are key physical processes that would just stop happening under certain CO2 levels.

    • DMA,

      The error is at the side of Dr. Berry: if you take the reverse formula of the residence time, then CO2 in the atmosphere can go to zero, but Dr. Spencer shows that the reference is at the (dynamic) equilibrium between ocean surface and atmosphere, where temperature governs the “setpoint” of the equilibrium at a rate of about 16 ppmv/K change.

  31. Everyone: I visit this site more than once a day. I seldom post, because I have nothing to add to comments from the obviously intelligent participants.
    I’m starting to see just an echo chamber. Virtually none of my otherwise intelligent colleagues, friends, and family will even trouble themselves to visit WUWT, because “The Science is Settled”, and they roll their eyes at me.
    I convinced my dentist to have a look, and he thought while interesting, WUWT seemed to be mostly political discourse. It was troublesome, I guess, for him to filter through the hundreds of articles and posts.
    I think I can safely say that any dedicated skeptic of AGW with a high public profile is, or has, quit /lost his / her job, or is constantly being assaulted by typically very rude and ignorant people while trying to present the truth. You could all give me a list of the individuals who have fought, and continue to fight to bring reason to the general public, and have suffered for it. I thought Taylor et al’s presentations at COP 25 were brilliant. 18.6K views? Really? Seriously? I don’t believe it.
    How do we bring people to their senses? Please don’t respond with jokes. I really want to see a plan.

    • I’m a career chemist and R&D manager and get the same push back as you. Environmentalism is a religious movement in my view. I have a theory that people are hard wired for religion. As people have abandon traditional religions they seek substitutes. So I see your quest tantamount to convincing a creationist to abandon the bible

      • You are correct, Mike McHenry, …… “tantamount to convincing a creationist to abandon the bible”.

        Both avid environmentalism and creationism are indoctrinating religious movements which are based in/on “fear and ignorance” and thus the membership is afraid of living …… and feared of dying …… if they don’t strictly adhere to their religious claims.

        The fear of “burning up” on a hot earth ….. or the fear of “burning up” in a hot Hell.

    • “How do we bring people to their senses?”

      What They Tell You and What They Leave Out (WHATTLO )

      Here is how to move millions into the climate contrarian camp.

      1: Playlists of dozens of brief YouTube videos, each with supporting text.

      Create hundreds of brief (1–3 minute) YouTube videos, each dealing with only a single topic or subtopic. The narrator’s voice should be sped up by 25% so the presentation doesn’t drag. (This can be done without distortion: YouTube already allows viewers to click on its “gear-wheel” and select a faster speaking speed.)

      Group these videos into one or more YouTube Playlists, in which each video automatically plays after the prior one, unless the viewer intervenes. I hope there’d be 50 videos in the initial batch, to make a big and newsworthy first impression. Subsequent (new) videos should be issued in batches of 25 or so, in order to be substantial enough to tempt previous viewers to view them, and to avoid overly fragmenting the ultimate collection.

      Below each video, under “Read More,” there should be a transcript of the video, plus supporting text commentary. YouTube allows. I guess, at least 2000 bytes there. (I assume that these texts can be updated and improved after their initial posting.) From there, additional, off-site essays and links can be linked to, ideally at a WUWT-operated central site.

      The initial Playlist needn’t be organized by topic—e.g., not by Attribution, Impact, and Response. It could be unsorted. Additional, topic-specialized Playlists (employing the same base material) can be added later, when there are enough videos to beef them up.

      Content for these videos needn’t be original, primarily because there’s a need for speedy development to counter Mike Bloomberg’s $500 million climate action offensive. Content should be licensed wherever possible from other videos or texts. Ideally, lots of understandable and entertaining graphics should be employed. Dennis Prager’s site has some good techniques.

      2: A counterpoint format employing the pair of phrases, “This Is What They Tell You:” / “And This Is What They Leave Out:” Example:

      This Is What They Tell You:
      “Arctic sea ice has been declining for nearly five decades.”

      And This Is What They Leave Out:
      1) The current decline stopped a decade ago.
      2) For the previous five decades sea ice was increasing, so the current decline may be partly cyclic.

      Note that the contrarian correction doesn’t attempt to entirely refute the alarmist assertion, merely to temper it by putting it in a new context or frame. (Doing this repeatedly will induce in the viewer a cautious attitude about accepting other alarmist claims.) It is important not to overstate the thoroughness of our refutations, which would set us up for a counterpunch. In situations where our side has one interpretation of the data and warmists have another, we shouldn’t claim victory, only that “the science here is unsettled.”

      Understatement, or at least a moderate tone, should be employed when “summing up” too, for the same reason. For example, our signature line might be, “You were told a half-truth—now you know the rest of the story.” By pounding on the “half-truth” message, and by explicitly saying elsewhere that this tactic is warmists’ stock-in-trade, alarmism will be 50% discredited—which is all we need to win, because time is on our side. I.e., warming and sea level rises will not accelerate.

      If one looks at warmist material closely, it can be seen to contain all sorts of questionable data, inferences, citations, exaggerations, etc., and that most of them could be be fitted into a “What They Tell You” skeleton, positioned to be skewered by our counterpoints. Nearly all alarmist claims can be effectively countered briefly, in the set-up-and-knock-down fashion I’ve proposed. The rest can be dealt with elsewhere, in a new, WUWT-sponsored rebuttal site.

      As the number of videos became large (say, 200), it would become a go-to resource for journalists, researchers, and students. It would in time rival or surpass Wikipedia in influence, once the supporting text gets built up sufficiently. (That text could draw on and reprint (or link to) the entire corpus of contrarian material.)

      3: A different collection of Playlists would employ the format, “This Is What They Predicted:” / “And This Is What Happened:”. Here’s an example.

      This Is What They Predicted:
      “Texas (and California) has entered a perma-drought state.”

      And This Is What Actually Happened:
      The rains came.

      This Is What They Tell You:
      “Polar bears are at risk in a warmer future, when summer sea ice declines to *** extent.”

      And This Is What They Leave Out:
      Due to a quirk in the weather, that level of decline unexpectedly occurred in 201***, but polar bears thrived anyway.

      Viewers would enjoy:
      * The Playlist arrangement, which requires no viewer-intervention and can be exited and re-entered whenever convenient.
      * “Closure” after viewing each of several short, snappy videos.
      * The counterpoint skeleton, which sets up an elite claim and “takes it down a peg.”
      * The recurring, taunting SIG line about alarmist half-truths.
      * Entertaining and humorous graphics and narration.
      * Their adoption of a dubious or incredulous attitude toward nagging alarmist propaganda.

      WHATTLO (WHAT They Leave Out) episodes would be entertaining, undemanding, addictive, and popular. They could attract an audience of millions.

      If they did, they could be force major alarmists to engage in formal debates under the auspices of some semi-official Science Court, perhaps live or perhaps using the format and software of the Dutch “Climate Dialogue” series. They could force the mainstream media to include skeptical interviewees and to be more cautious about trumpeting warmest alarums.

      • Roger, I think that’s a great plan, and thank you for putting so much thought and your reply. I wish I had the time (and brains) to put such a thing together.

  32. Some time ago I recorded these numbers for the CO2 content
    Oceans – 37,000 GT
    Biomass(land) – 3,000 GT
    Atmosphere – 700 GT
    Anthropogenic – 6 GT
    Atmospheric content is a balancing surplus in exchange between two largest accumulators. If the above numbers are anywhere near correct values, than even the smallest of changes (0.016%) in the oceans content variability over the last half a century would be greater than the assumed anthropogenic content of 6 GT.
    I doubt that it is possible to say that the ocean’s content can be estimated with accuracy of 1 in 6000 (0.016%).

    • Vuk, your figures are for Carbon, not CO2.
      And a number of sites (but not IPCC or NASA) state that Limestone and sediments have between 50,000,000 GT and 100,000,000 GT of carbon, which is more than 99% of all near-surface carbon on the Earth. Why do most people ignore 99% of all carbon in their carbon cycle diagrams?
      OK, everybody stop what you are doing, and find out the amount of limestone from your favorite sources (not IPCC or NASA as they are ignorant) and tell us your results. How can anybody make any decisions about carbon if they don’t measure the amount of carbon in ALL carbon sinks?

    • VUK,

      How much C is in deposits and reservoirs is not important at all.
      How much C is exchanged between any and all deposits and reservoirs is not important at all.
      Only important for the quantities in any reservoir or deposit is the difference between the total in and out fluxes for that reservoir or deposit.

      In the past 60 years, the difference between all in and out fluxes to and from the atmosphere was negative and smaller than what humans added one way:

  33. I did a spreadsheet last year showing that the delta in CO2 from its low to its high has almost doubled since the Mauna Loa data recording started. This shows that if we just take emissions down to 1958 levels, CO2 rise will be eliminated.

    • This shows that if we just take emissions down to 1958 levels, CO2 rise will be eliminated.

      Dennis W, it wouldn’t effect the annual rise in CO2 a smidgen’s worth.

      To eliminate the annual rise in CO2 ….. you will have to eliminate the annual rise in ocean water temperature.

      A permanent La Nina would bring the CO2 level down in a jiffy, like so in 1999 & 2000, to wit:

      year mth CO2 ppm _ yearly increase
      1998 _ 5 _ 369.49 …. +2.80 El Niño __ 9 … 364.01
      1999 _ 4 _ 370.96 …. +1.47 La Nina ___ 9 … 364.94
      2000 _ 4 _ 371.82 …. +0.86 La Nina ___ 9 … 366.91
      2001 _ 5 _ 373.82 …. +2.00 __________ 9 … 368.16

  34. How much of this is just increased Biomass growth? Also the removal might be even higher, how much CO2 is outgassed from warming oceans and not part of the human increased outputs? Everytime I see a photo from the 1800s or earlier, I’m amazing at how open most of these areas are and how few trees. Heck just watching “The Curse of Oak Island” last night, they showed a photo the island back in the late 1800s early 1900s and it was barren! Nothing like the dense northern forest that cover it today.

    I think the amount of forest and biomas growth since 1900 has been incredibly understated.

    • We live in Manassas, Virginia on a 5 acre plot of mostly wooded land. The land we are on and adjacent properties can’t be subdivided or, in many cases, altered in any way, because they are historic Civil War sites. And my wife and I are big history buffs, including Civil War history.

      We hike the various battlefields on a regular basis, and all of them have signs giving historical details of what transpired there. Many of them display photographs of the battlefields from that time. What strikes me every time is the barrenness of the landscape in the Civil War era; most of the land was absolutely devoid of trees.

      Today, it is mostly forested, even with the enormous amount of development going on in support of the ever-increasing population. It isn’t restricted to our area. The entire mid-Atlantic region of the United States has reverted to “green” as fossil fuels replaced wood as the primary source of energy. I agree with Tom that the biomass growth has been understated, and is underappreciated.

      • Michael
        The same is true for much of New England, where old stone field-walls can be found deep in the re-grown forests.

      • Hi M. S. Kelly, – Outside Atlanta after an American CivilWar battle Indiana’s J. Tilford wrote: “The trees in the wood was riddled to splinters by the leaden hail.”
        Military action elsewhere was similar; for example a copse of 200 locust tees was “… literally cut to pieces by the bullets….” Canon fire, defensive works & cooking/heating all took trees.

    • I used to own 224 acres in northern NY. My neighbor has lived there his entire (68 year) life. He told me that when he was young, he could see all the way across my property because it was bare pasture land. Now it’s a forest.

  35. Why care about IPCC models or conforming to them? Some facts should dispel any notion that MME (Boden etal) drives ML CO2. Real changes in ML CO2 are followed by MME changes by years of lag:

    The assumptions underlying the head post model are wrong, and so is the model. Real adjusted for inflation CO2 is declining naturally, resulting from long-term changes to tropical temperatures, according to my all-natural CO2 model, of which MME is a tiny insignificant fraction:

    This indicates CO2 is outgassed in perfect proportion to the Nino region temperature ratio of the first to the second half of year (NIR), following natural and biological cycles and laws.

    The lack of similar modern CO2 spikes in core data results from data smoothing via attenuation and inadequate temporal resolution. The modern era data is a blip in time compared to core data sampling.

    • Bob, you are looking at the “noise” around the trends, the trend itself of human emissions is twice the trend of CO2 at Mauna Loa…

      • the trend itself of human emissions is twice the trend of CO2 at Mauna Loa

        Apparently, you didn’t understand my plots. The total ML CO2 trend rate should be obviously and completely overwhelmed by the MME trend rate if MME is the largest portion of the total, and MME changes should precede changes in the ML CO2 total. Basic rules for causality.

        The time derivative trend of ML CO2 is 5.7X the time derivative trend rate of MME, so your statement is false. It means MME changes can’t be driving ML CO2 changes, especially since MME changes lag ML CO2 changes. I don’t see how you’ve gotten around those two facts as derived from the data.

        In my view there is no noise.

        • Bob, you ar looking at the detrended graphs, which makes that youare looking at the noise, as you have effectively removed the cause of the trends!

          Without detrending, the trend in the derivatives is that the human emissions are average twice the increase in the atmosphere:

          And the noise is only +/-1.5 ppmv around the trend of 90+ ppmv since 1960, here for the 1991 Pinatubo and 1998 El Niño:

          Even the 8 ppmv/K influence of temperature on the CO2 uptake variability is already too much and surely can’t drive the 20 ppmv increase in the same period with a few tenths of a degree warming…

          • Bob,

            Human emissions are twice the increase in the atmosphere, here for totals:
            Here again for the year by year rate:

            By taking the derivatives you already removed much of the original trend, but even so, what are you looking at?
            – You have a huge trend in emissions with very little year by year variability.
            – You have a small trend in temperature with a huge year by year variability.
            – You do analyze the sum of both series in the derivatives and conclude that the variability in CO2 uptake is caused by temperature variability, which is right.
            Then you conclude that the overall trend can’t be caused by human emissions, because there is no causal link between the variability in the human emissions and the variability in the atmosphere, which is totally wrong, because the effect of the small variability in year by year human emissions is smaller than the measurement error at Mauna Loa and thus there is no link between the variability in human emissions and the variability in the trend, but still the CO2 trend itself is (near) fully caused by human emissions.

            Your conclusion that the trend is caused by the small trend in temperature, also is wrong, as the result of the temperature variability has nothing to do with the result of the temperature trend. That are different processes at work.
            Increased temperatures (and drought) in the tropics reduce the CO2 uptake by tropical vegetation, thus have a short time negative effect, which disappears in 1-3 years, The reverse happened during the Pinatubo eruption.
            Increased temperatures in the mid-latitudes (and more CO2) increase the uptake of CO2 in vegetation and that has a long time positive effect.
            The result of 1 K temperature change in the sea surface only gives a change of 16 ppmv in equilibrium with the atmosphere. That is all.
            That is my point…

            BTW, Pieter Tans of NOAA agrees with your analyses that temperature is the main cause of the variability in uptake of CO2 by nature, see slide 11 and further from his speech at the 50 years Mauna Loa festivities:
            But he too disagrees with you that temperature is the cause of the CO2 trend…

  36. A couple of questions for cognizant;
    1. If the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been steadily decreasing since the Late Jurassic why are we worried about a small increase over the last few decades that seems to be benefiting life forms around the globe? The CO2 level was low enough during the last glacial period to nearly starve plants, especially those at higher elevations. Why would we be concerned about increasing CO2 when all life appears to benefit!?
    2. Since the geologic record shows extended periods where average temperatures were substantially higher (5-10 degrees C) than today, why is the POSSIBLE increase of two degrees anything to be concerned with? Life flourished during these warm periods given the rapid evolution and proliferation of plants, fishes, amphibians and reptiles. Why would humans and other mammals be any less adaptable than other life forms?
    I am much more worried about the infinite extent of human greed and stupidity that seems to pervade the Green Blob than I am about a few tenths of a percent of CO2 that may be wholly beneficial and transitory!

    • Agreed! One of the biggest lies the Climate Nazis sell is the notion that a warmer climate means worse weather. The reverse is true. They didn’t call historic warm climate periods “Climate Optimum” because of how “awful” the weather was.

  37. In these days the 3,200 gigatonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere is increased by 36 gigatonnes a year. That is 0.5%/yr. 20 gigatonnes disappear to the sea and to plants, and as the concentration goes up, these 20 gigatonnes will also be increased with 0.5%/yr. Calculated as compound interest, how may years would it take to raise those 20 gigatonnes to 36 gigatonnes, and that is 119 years, So in the year 2139 the whole supply will disapper and the concentration will not be increased further, and the increase is approx 800 gigatonnes which is the same as 102 ppm, so around 512 ppm will be the top concentration – but wait, the 36 gigatonnes is not a fixed value, so the calculation is in fact more complicated than this. – up to 700 ppm is my guess

  38. Global greening is big and getting harder to
    – deny
    – hide
    – keep from general public awareness
    – keep portraying as universally bad

    Authors are emboldened to admit that it could be the most significant – and good – element of human caused climate change.

    Piao, S., Wang, X., Park, T. et al. Characteristics, drivers and feedbacks of global greening. Nat Rev Earth Environ 1, 14–27 (2020).

    Widespread vegetation greening since the 1980s is one of the most notable characteristics of biosphere change in the Anthropocene. Greening has significantly enhanced the land carbon sink, intensified the hydrologic cycle and cooled the land surface at the global scale. A mechanistic understanding of the underlying drivers shows how anthropogenic forcing has fundamentally altered today’s Earth system through a set of feedback loops. Improved knowledge of greenness changes, together with recent progress in observing technology and modelling capacity, has resulted in major advances in understanding global vegetation dynamics. Nonetheless, we still face many challenges ahead.

    Alarmists endlessly write about bad and scary things supposedly happening to plants. And yet the planet is greening, not a bit but a lot. How? Are these all bad plants, some kind of zombie plants?

    Reduced stomata opening that plants can now do to reduce water loss, due to high CO2, is changed from being a good thing caused by high CO2 to a bad sign of water stress. Catastrophist sleight of hand, dystopic conjuring. But if CO2 is causing drought everywhere, why is the planet greening? Not a bit, but a lot?

  39. A small correction for the head post: “ … as well as the resulting climate model projection of resulting warming, which remain physically meaningless.

  40. What “excess CO2” ?
    I am with those who quite rightly believe that the earth’s current atmosphere is “starved” of CO2 to a point where all life on earth is in real (not fake) jeopardy. Plants the base of life’s food chain are hobbled. During the last glacial maximum CO2 levels dropped to around 180 ppm just 30 ppm above the “Plant Death Zone”. Analogous to humans starved of oxygen trying to climb mountains above 26,300 feet (8000 meters)

          • I would add that it is necessary to consider other factors when discussing the basement floor of CO2 required for plants to survive. I’m a historian not a scientist so bear with me while I jump to that discipline for a moment. In the half century prior to the 1348 Black Plague, parts, or all of Europe were hit with multiple famines. Thirteen separate famines in all, from 1302 on, including The Great Famine of 1315-1317 that is estimated to have killed 7 million people in Europe. The last famine before the Great Mortality hit France, Italy, and Ireland hard in 1346-47. Then enters Yersinia Pestis into a population physically hobbled by repeated malnutrition, with damaged immune systems, cognition, etc. The resulting plague mortality rate was far greater than it would have been in a well nourished population.

            Well, plants heavily stressed by a “famine” of CO2 will have a much harder time surviving other stressors like disease, temperature extremes, UV exposure, over-damp conditions etc. The biosphere was within thirty ppm of the “Plant Death Zone” at the trough of the last glaciation. You say the safety zone is wider than that. I would posit that it would be better to be at 800-1000 ppm where plants thrive, and be much more able to survive other stressors which always eventually appear … sometimes in number.

          • No argument here sendergreen.

            Whether individual C3 plant species die out at 150ppm or 60ppm atm. CO2, the carnage that will occur at ~150ppm will be devastating to terrestrial life on Earth.

            I posted the following, probably circa 2008:

            Oceans were not acidic when Earth’s atmospheric CO2 was 10-20 times today’s levels. That is all the proof you need.

            Since then, thousands of feet of Carbonate rocks have been deposited, as CO2 is naturally sequestered. Further CO2 sequestration has taken place in peat, coal and hydrocarbons. Man has liberated only a tiny fraction of what has been naturally sequestered.

            Ocean acidification is utter nonsense.

            Ironically, all life on Earth will cease when the last atmospheric CO2 is naturally sequestered.

            This is the way the world ends
            This is the way the world ends
            This is the way the world ends
            Not with a bang but a whimper.
            T.S. Eliot, 1925

    • +100
      This is the elephant in the room. I really cannot fathom how ANYONE seeing the precipitous decline of CO2 over geological time could advocate anything but CO2 production, not this insane sequesteation.

      I have a well developed theory and lots of evidence that the Green Energy etc push is actually a Beta test, to see how much CO2 7 billion people can produce, produce MORE not less CO2. Green ‘solutions’ all result in more fossil fuel use and CO2, not less. A Big Lie, all as a pretext to stop Global warming, when cooling and CO2 starvation is likely on the way. Scores of data points suggest this conspiracy, the largest most sinister deception imaginable, and a resource grab to boot (“stranded assets” resued and taken out of public access out of the goodness of the BIS’s hearts) .

      Much more could be said, but I think the CO2 emergency and Climate Change concerns are warranted, just precisely and cynically the opposite of what the narrative says, deliberately sending everyone in the opposite direction of the truth.

  41. Dr Spencer. From the previous article:

    the central assumption (supported by the Mauna Loa CO2 data) that nature removes CO2 from the atmosphere at a rate in direct proportion to how high atmospheric CO2 is above some natural level the system is trying to ‘relax’ to.

    The ‘relaxation’ is not back to what it was 150 or 200 year ago, it is an attempt to balance the pCO2 in the ocean with the partial pressure of CO2 in the air above at any point in time. As the ocean “acidifies” it contains more CO2, so the supposed excess CO2 “anomaly” causes less “forcing” than the same level would have done back in 1750. The basic assumption of the model will lead to an exaggerated estimation of how much is removed.

    This agrees with your natural suspicion about this result.

    Fitting one monotonic rise to another one is pretty easy to satisfy, it is not a great confirmation that you are correct.

    The fit to MLO does not “support” the model, you have tuned it to fit MLO. In view of the illogical deviation for a significant part of the record after Mt P. The degree of confirmation is light. This is same fallacy that most CAGW pseudo-science is based on: matching two monotonic changes and taking this as proof of causation.

    The result of where it levels off depends largely on the curves section in the future. Using regression on the nearly straight part, corresponding to the available data is a very uncertain way to predict the curvature of the later section, especially in view of the error in the “relaxation” pointed out above.

    I share your natural skepticism about the degree of the result, though the idea of some down turn seems likely.

    • Greg Goodman,

      The saturation is only in the ocean surface. Not in the deep oceans or vegetation.
      The sink places near the poles are limited in surface and thus limited in uptake, but still extremely far from saturated. That CO2 is gone for at least 1,000 years before it gets back to the atmosphere. Even so causing not more than 3 ppmv increase in the atmosphere for all human CO2 emitted up to now.

      There is no “tuning” involved. For a linear decay the formula is:
      e-fold decay rate = disturbance / effect
      where the disturbance is CO2 above the long-time equilibrium between seawater en atmosphere for the average sea surface temperature.

      In 1959: 25 ppmv, 0.5 ppmv/year, 50 years, half life time 34.7 years
      In 1988: 60 ppmv, 1.13 ppmv/year, 53 years, half life time 36.8 years
      In 2012: 110 ppmv / 2.15 ppmv/year = 51.2 years or a half life time of 35.5 years.

      Looks very linear to me. If one plots the difference between human emissions and the above sink rate, the net increase in the atmosphere is in the middle of the (temperature induced) noise:

  42. Possible explanation are that certain high co2 consuming plants, bacteria are limited by amount of co2 in atmosphere. Once the amount of co2 increases their biomass starts to take up a larger percentage of the Total biomass, thus increasing the co2 consumption by total biomass in a nonlinear way. Basically the ratios of types of plants and bacteria can change when a nutrient is increased.

  43. …that removal rate is 2.3%/yr of the atmospheric excess above 295 ppm.

    So if that’s the case, a sudden stop in fossil fuel burning would leave us with 97.7% of the excess CO2 after 1 yr, then 97.7%x97.7%=95.5% after 2 yrs, and so on, right?

    If 350ppm is supposed to be the “safe” level (according to Bill McKibben and, we would hit that after about 32 years. If we drive CO2 up to 560ppm before we perfect thorium reactors (or whatever), then we will take about 68 years to get back to 350ppm. But at 2.5ppm/yr increase, it would take us until 2080 to reach 560ppm. So we would have 60 years to perfect nuclear. By 2148 when we would be back at 350ppm, we’d need to start burning fossil fuels again to keep agriculture working smoothly.

    If ECS is around a lukewarmist’s 1.8K and the transient response is half of that, then at 560ppm (doubling from 280) we’d be about 0.9K hotter than 1850. How can that possibly be a problem? It’s a benefit in every regard, slightly milder winters and nights, much higher crop yields, better water utilization.

    On the other hand, let natural cooling set in and agricultural output plummets. That’s the real problem, folks, and there’s not much we could do about it.

  44. In fact, it’s not 50% of the yearly anthropogenic emissions that is absorbed; it’s an amount that is equivalent to 50% of emissions.
    Agreed. I made that same point years ago when studying this question. As i recall it has a huge impact on the underlying math, because it throws cause and effect into question.

    How can the absorption remain at 50% of human emissions, when nature has no way to distinguish between human and natural emissions.

    Coincidence is not a good explanation.

    • Ferd, the coincidence is in the fact that human emissions increased linear per year. That means a (slight) exponential increase in the atmosphere and thus a slight exponential increase in sink rate, which again is linear in the sink rate/year.
      In the years before the 2016 El Niño, there was no increase in emissions and the growth rate did sink, as the increase in the atmosphere did not stop.
      If we would halve the emissions, there was zero increase in the atmosphere left…

      • In the years before the 2016 El Niño, there was no increase in emissions and the growth rate did sink
        That was also “The Pause” in global temperatures. Cause and effect depends on the choice of assumptions.

        The belief that A causes B is based on the assumption that C is true. But C remains unproven. The notion that we can decide C based on logical argument is what held science back for nearly 2000 years. It is the question of whether heavier objects fall faster, or the speed of light and gravity.

        The usefulness of a model lies in its ability to correctly predict the future. Whether the model correctly implements the underlying physical process is largely irrelevant and uninteresting outside of academia.

        We use Newton because it correctly predicts the future for low energy systems. But we know from Einstein that the Newtonian model is incorrect. It does not represent reality.

        And the same is true for CO2. The question is: what model best predicts the future. The question of whether the mechanism is correct is quite frankly the wrong question.

        As history shows, our understanding of reality has never been correct. It is incomplete and must always remain such.

  45. People should note that Fig. 1 (the main plot) was incorrect, and Charles has put the correct one in there now. It is the key figure, and most people here commented before the figure was corrected.

  46. So, more CO2 in ocean, more phyto, more pyramid…

    The Oceans are not just Base, they are BUFFERED Base.

  47. “I will admit to knowing very little about the carbon cycle models used by the IPCC.”

    Me too, but I bet dimes for Dollars that they make some unsubstantiated assumptions about the rate of CO2 absorption at ocean surfaces and other air-water interfaces.
    The rate of CO2 absorption and conversion to aqueous carbonate/bicarbonate is actually quite a slow reaction. This is why the enzyme carbonic anhydrase is truly ubiquitous in nature, typically speeding up the chemical reaction by a factor of a million or more(*). It makes for a quite interesting undergraduate teaching/demonstration experiment.

    The bulk of ocean surfaces are quite probably covered by a bacterial biofilm acting as one enormous catalytic layer, maybe only ~one cell thick. Depending on the presence or absence and effectiveness of this catalytic biofilm the actual observed absorption rates may (or may not) be governed by mass transfer and not necessarily the expected rates based upon simple chemical thermodynamics. As far as I am aware carbon cycle modelers may consider direct CO2 sequestration by photosynthesis, but ignore such possible effects of biology upon “inorganic” carbon dioxide pathways.

    (* One paper I read some years ago undertook a study of gene expression by E. Huxleyi under conditions of increased carbon dioxide. The biggest change they found was, unsurprisingly to me, a change in the amount of expressed genes coding for carbonic anhydrase.)

  48. Let’s say humanity cut its CO2 emissions by 50% in a single year, from 100 units to 50 units. If nature had previously been removing about 50 units per year (50 removed versus 100 produced is a 50% removal rate), it would continue to remove very close to 50 units because the atmospheric concentration hasn’t really changed in only one year. The result would be that the new removal fraction would shoot up from 50% to 100%.

    I have been saying this since years ago, although certainly not often enough. If currently only the equivalent of 45% of our emitted CO2 is being added to the atmosphere every year, then for CO2 to stop rising we do NOT need to cut our emissions 100%. Just reducing them to half the current ammount will make the CO2 levels stop rising (and plants will not be very happy about it, although they should still thank us for the increased levels compared to preindustrial).

  49. Thanks, folks, for a very interesting discussion, conducted politely, and with some interesting new-to-me science.

    Anthony, Charles and all: keep up the good work! Science does self-correct, even if frustratingly slowly. Recalling Richard Feynman: “Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” Likewise, environmental politicians. I think there are signs that the worm turns. I hope so!

  50. Regarding “Note that I don’t really care if 5% or 50% of the water in the vat is exchanged every year through the actions of the main faucet and the drain; I want to know how much faster the drain will accomodate the extra water being put into the tank, limiting the rise of water in the vat. This is also why any arguments [and models] based upon atomic bomb C-14 removal rates are, in my opinion, not very relevant. Those are useful for determining the average rate at which carbon cycles through the atmospheric reservoir, but not for determining how fast the extra ‘overburden’ of CO2 will be removed.”:

    This is the difference between C14 dioxide removal rate after the end of “the bomb tests” (half life about 10 years) and either the Bern model or a competing exponential decay model, such as one with a half life of 41 years (time constant “tau” or “e-folding” time of 59 years), mentioned in

    Dr. Spencer’s model appears to me as similar to the model by Willis Eschenbach, apparently same type model (exponential decay of short term pulses / injections of CO2 into the atmosphere, constant percentage per year of “excess” over some “pre-industrial baseline” being absorbed from the atmosphere with moderate differences in numbers: Spencer’s model is annual removal by nature being 2.33% of “excess” above 295 PPM, and Eschenbach’s model was 1.695% of “excess” above 283 PPM (that I worked out from Eschenbach’s statement of time constant of 59 years). Spencer’s model has a somewhat shorter time constant of about 43 years and half life around 29.4 or 29.7 years (with discrepancy being from using time two different calculation methods, at least one of them assuming a time step of one year).

  51. It’s not a vat or a bucket. It’s a river. Not of water, but of CO2, transported along with the waters that make up the vast flows of the THC.

    CO2 levels in the atmosphere follow the levels in the upper oceans. The oceans are continually draining CO2 laden waters through downwelling at the poles, and replenishing it via upwelling at the equator. CO2 content of the surface waters can increase two ways: 1) increased upwelling content, and 2) decreased downwelling content.

    The upwelling waters were set in motion perhaps 1,000 years ago, and they cannot be stopped or modulated. But, downwelling transport can be modulated by surface temperatures. This begets a temperature dependency in the rate of change of CO2 concentration. This dependency is starkly observable in the data:

    • Bart, some time ago…

      The problem with your plot is that the variability is not caused by the temperature of the sinking waters, which is rather constant at the edge of the polar ice, but by the influence of temperature and drought/rain on vegetation in the tropics. That is reflected in the opposite CO2 and δ13C variability in the derivatives. If the oceans were the main variable, CO2 and δ13C would change in parallel, here for the 1991 Pinatubo and 1998 El Niño period:

        • Bart, do you have a plot of local seawater temperatures at the THC sink place?
          The only plots I have seen which match the variability in sink rate are from the tropics (and mainly of the Niño areas of the equatorial oceans) or even the SH, not from the THC area.

  52. It would be a simple matter to make a table with global warming factors, including the contribution from CO2, from 1979 to present, and list CO2 ppm for each year. This would give factor change and PPM change for each year. That can be compared with global temperature change.

    If CO2 removal rates are 4X higher, then a new table could be constructed, with a new value for contribution from CO2. This would give a NEW factor change and the same PPM change for each year. That can be compared with the same global temperature change.

    The table would show the CO2 contribution increases VERY SLOWLY with PPM, much slower than IPCC, etc., are claiming.

    That should lead to much less fear-mongering regarding CO2 and banning fossil fuels.

  53. “Let’s assume those rates of water gain and loss are nearly equal, in which case the level of water in the vat (the CO2 content of the atmosphere) never changes very much. This was supposedly the natural state of CO2 flows in and out of the atmosphere before the Industrial Revolution, and is an assumption I will make for the purposes of this analysis.”

    There is the whole problem, in a nutshell. The whole notion that “we” are responsible for atmospheric CO2 changes is based on nothing more than an ASSUMPTION.

    Assumptions are not facts. The simple FACT is that we don’t know what the “drivers” behind changes to the atmospheric CO2 level are, because we’re not measuring the vast majority of the “sources” and none of the “sinks.”

    And there IS NO “excess” CO2; the present levels are barely sufficient, given how they are likely to plummet with the next glaciation, and given how close we are to reaching a level that is so low that it would mean the end of photosynthesis and with it, all life as we know it. More is better; let’s stop acting like the supposed “pre-industrial” level (which is likely a falsehood since it is based on poor proxies) is some kind of “ideal.”

    • AGW is Not Science ,

      You don’t need to know any individual CO2 flux, what you need to know is the historical level/temperature ratio, which is about 16 ppmv/K for at least the past 2 million years and confirmed by over 3 million seawater samples over the past centuries, including several continuous monitoring stations over the past decades.
      And you need to know the inventory of human emissions (with reasonable accuracy, thanks to taxes) and the increase in the atmosphere with high accuracy, thanks to 10 base stations all over the oceans.
      What nature has done is simply the difference between human emissions and increase in the atmosphere. No matter if an individual flux doubled or halved or another stream turned from a net contributor to a net sink or reverse: the whole nature was a net sink for CO2 in the past 60 years.

      With that knowledge, Dr. Spencer could show that the base equilibrium between the current ocean (surface) temperature and the atmosphere is around 295 ppmv and that the net sink rate still is linear in ratio with what is measured in the atmosphere and the 295 ppmv equilibrium.

      No assumptions at all, only observations…

  54. That lowermost RCP model curve insists that the levels would try to return to the preindustrial levels from the Little Ice Age. The math might try to do so, but it seems like an unwarranted assumption for warmer periods.

  55. One also needs to consider that when CO2 rises, conditions become more favorable for plant growth. This leads to an increase in planetary vegetation, which consumes more CO2 to sustain itself. This is the part of the equation that is not adequately addressed, and may explain the shortcomings of the climate model “predictions”.

    • RB, – I want to suggest you read my comment way upthread [responding to MCHENRY, on the night of Feb 5], which specifies some recent data that clearly shows the paradigm (CO2 rises … consumes more CO2) you suggest is not linear, nor one directional; at least in a researched temperate zone tree. The source cited is free to read on-line & not as technical as many scientific reports – it reads fairly readily.

    • “Natural removal rate of CO2 from the atmosphere from 2000 to 2020 is consistent with the RCPs, not 4 times what is indicated by the RCPs.”


      From spencers post:

      “But now, the RCP scenarios have a reduced rate of removal in the coming decades during which that same factor-of-4 discrepancy with the Mauna Loa observation period gradually develops. More on that in a minute”

      “Now, if I reduce the model specified CO2 removal rate value from 2.3 to 2.0%/yr, I cannot match the Mauna Loa data. Yet the RCP scenarios insist that value will decrease markedly in the coming decades.

      Who is correct? Will nature continue to remove 2.0-2.3%/yr of the CO2 excess above 295 ppm, or will that removal rate drop precipitously? If it stays fairly constant, then the future RCP scenarios are overestimating future atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and as a result climate models are predicting too much future warming.”

      I think you should have read spencer’s *entire* post.

      • “Huh?”
        Huh? The statement quoted is exactly correct. Observed CO2 (2000-2020) is consistent with RCP estimates, not 1/4x.
        What you have quoted is a divergence between RCP future values and those of Spencer’s model future values.

  56. If Spencer’s model is correct, that the NET CO2 removal rate from the atmosphere is 2.3%/yr of the excess CO2 concentration over 295 ppm, then at 410 ppm, the removal rate should be 0.023 * (410 – 295) = 2.645 ppm/yr. A mass balance on the atmosphere shows that 1 ppm CO2 corresponds to about 8 gigatons (8 * 10^12 kg) of CO2, so that the current NET removal rate would be 2.645 * 8 = 21.2 GT/yr.

    Spencer’s model assumes that the NET removal rate varies linearly with concentration, but what is the significance of the X intercept of his straight line at 295 ppm? If the processes removing CO2 from the atmosphere (such as photosynthesis) were first-order reactions, where rate is proportional to CO2 (reactant) concentration, then the total CO2 removal rate at 410 ppm should be 0.023 * 410 = 9.43 ppm/yr = 75.4 GT/yr. This would be partially counteracted by a natural CO2 emission rate of 0.023 * 295 (the X intercept of Spencer’s line) = 6.79 ppm/yr = 54.3 GT/yr (which could be due to animal respiration, volcanos, rotting vegetation and animals, and net emissions from the oceans).

    Current human CO2 emissions are running about 37 GT/yr, which means that according to Spencer’s model, total CO2 input is 54.3 (natural) + 37 (human) = 91.3 GT/yr, with absorption of 75.4 GT/yr, for a net gain of 15.9 GT/yr, or about 2 ppm/yr increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

    According to this model, if human emissions remained constant at 37 GT yr, the equilibrium concentration X, at which human emissions = net removal rate, could be calculated as 37 = 0.023 * 8 * (X – 295), from which X = 295 + 37 / (0.023 * 8) = 496 ppm. If human emissions increased beyond 37 GT/yr, the equilibrium concentration would be higher, by about 5.4 ppm per additional GT/yr emitted. In order to reach an equilibrium concentration of 600 ppm, human emissions would have to rise above 56 GT/yr, or about 51% above current emission rates.

    • While your math is sensible from the pov that the annual atm. CO2 vector is directed into the ocean from MME driving the total, it is entirely plausible the CO2 vector (net) is outward from the ocean, growing in magnitude from biological and geological marine sources, with the resultant natural upward atm CO2 trend being mistaken for MME.

      This idea precludes a static equilibrium for CO2 at any value, like 280-295ppm as is often cited.

      CO2 is the ‘exhaust’ from the sun supplying the energy, the ocean buffering it, and life making CO2.

      Today’s CO2 theory implies the exhaust fuels the system horsepower; it’s backward.

      • Bob,

        if the oceans were a net emitter and humans are a one-way emitter and vegetation is a small absorber (of about 1/4 of human emissions) how than is it possible that the increase in the atmosphere is less than what humans alone emit?
        Can you show that mass balance over a year?

        • That’s kinda a loaded question requiring a lot of detailed analysis just to verify your assumptions were solid, such as where does the conclusion come from that vegetation is a small absorber of ‘about 1/4 of human emissions’?

          What we should recognize is the increased plant productivity since the 1980s during a time of increasing CO2, precipitation, and warmth.

          Does your mass balance account for the large increase in leaf area since 1982?

          I don’t have an annual mass balance – but let’s agree to start with annual cycles:

          • Bob,

            The annual cycle is driven by seasonal temperature changes and, while somewhat increased due to increased biomass, that doesn’t say anything about the more or less permanent deposit of C in humus, peat and (brown)coal.

            Fortunately, there is an escape route: humans are burning a lot of fossil fuels, thus using some oxygen out of the atmosphere. Vegetation uses CO2 and produces O2 while vegetation decay/feed/food uses oxygen and produces CO2.
            If one makes that oxygen balance by calculating the fossil fuel use x O2 use per type of fuel, one knows the decline of O2 caused by fossil fuel burning.
            By measuring the O2 decline over the years, that gives you the net O2 use or production by the biosphere.

            Since about 1990, the biosphere as a whole (land and sea plants, molds, insects, animals, humans) produces more O2 than it uses. That is where one can find the CO2 uptake by the same biosphere over the years.
            The main problem for that approach is the needed accuracy of a few tenths of a ppmv in 210.000 ppmv O2. See Bender e.a.:
            Who found 1.0 +/- 0.6 GtC/year net uptake/year by vegetation in the period 1990-2002.

        • Donald L. Klipstein February 7, 2020 at 8:50 am

          The oceans have been a net absorber of CO2 since burning of fossil fuels became a significant source of CO2 –> The oceans have been a shock-absorber of CO2 since burning of fossil fuels became a significant source of CO2

      • Bob Weber’s theory that CO2 is the “exhaust” from the sun’s energy is only partially true. CO2 is effectively an exhaust gas from the combustion of hydrocarbons or coal. But CO2 is a reactant in photosynthesis, an endothermic reaction which requires energy input from the sun (and water as a reactant) to produce sugars and free oxygen in plants.

        Le Chatelier’s Principle in chemistry states that any change in the environment around a chemical reaction tends to shift the equilibrium in the opposite direction. Increasing the concentration of a reactant (such as CO2) will tend to increase the rate of reaction (photosynthesis) to destroy CO2 and convert it to sugars and oxygen. This theoretical prediction has been borne out in experiments which have shown that artificially increasing CO2 concentrations in greenhouses increases plant growth rates, which is why florists are currently injecting CO2 into greenhouses to produce nice fresh roses for Valentine’s Day, when natural sunshine and warm weather are in short supply.

        If photosynthesis is a first-order reaction (reaction rate = constant times reactant concentration), it would stand to reason that the rate of removal of CO2 would be linearly proportional to CO2 concentration, as Dr. Spencer proposes. Of course, there may be other sources and/or sinks whose reaction rate may not be linearly proportional to atmospheric CO2 concentration, which would have to be experimentally verified.

        • Thank you Steve Z.

          I think the main overlooked source of natural CO2 is from the natural growth of coral reef bases via increasing calcification, which has CO2 as a by-product according to the equilibrium equation, which results in increased dissolved CO2 over time, increasing the partial pressure of the CO2 at the surface, increasing the outgassing, as ocean temperature rises, according to Henry’s Law, which if you think about it is another expression of Le Chatelier’s Principle, quantified for CO2

          Ca + 2HCO3 CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O.

          Over the centuries, higher energy solar activity warmed the ocean and provided more light energy for zooxanthellae photosynthesis, the food population for corals that grew as ocean temperature climbed, enabling more coral reef base growth, calcification and CO2 outgassing, all according to natural biological laws and physical laws.

          Zooxanathallaes are at the very foundation of life on earth because their biological outputs feed coral growth and outputs that recycle back to nature the primary compound terrestrial organisms need to thrive, CO2, thanks to photochemistry.

          From all that it’s hard to say whether nature has been removing ‘excess’ CO2 4x faster than IPCC models.

          • Bob,

            The CO2 release from the calcification of coral reefs (and Ehux calcified plankton) is part of the biosphere, which is a proven sink of CO2.
            The total sink of CO2 is the difference between human emissions and increase in the atmosphere and that is in direct ratio to the extra CO2 pressure in the atmosphere above the long time equilibrium governed by the ocean surface temperature. Currently around 295 ppmv…

  57. Roy,
    From a chemical exchange and equilibrium viewpoint, I give some thoughts about the atmospheric (Atm) CO2 removal rate, which likely has steadily increased over time.

    If Atm CO2 were suddenly increased in one step and nothing changed in the characteristics of those CO2 uptake reservoirs (e.g., oceans, plants & soil), then the two concentrations would be out of equilibrium. An increased amount of CO2 would then flow from Atm to these other reservoirs until a new equilibrium was established.

    But this simple scenario does not consider either the rate (kinetics) of the CO2 exchange process nor of changes in the uptake reservoirs. Here is one example. Increasing Atm CO2 is not immediately absorbed by the oceans. Rather, as Atm CO2 gradually increases, the rate of CO2 uptake into the oceans likely falls further behind. Most CO2 uptake into oceans occurs near-surface, whereas decades to centuries are required for the surface ocean to transfer that CO2 to the deeper ocean. The potential for oceans to absorb more Atm CO2 is there, but the kinetics (rate) of the transfer process cannot accommodate the much faster rate Atm CO2 is increasing.

    This implies that as Atm CO2 increases, the amount by which the CO2 concentration difference between Atm and ocean grows larger and the equilibrium condition falls further and further behind. An increasing rate of Atm CO2 would therefore bring the Atm–Ocean exchange further and further out of equilibrium and would steadily increase the rate that CO2 is removed from the Atm.

    This view also has implications if CO2 addition to the Atm were to totally stop (not just slow to a zero rate increase). The exchange rate of Atm CO2 into the ocean would continu at a slowly decreasing rate for many years. Changing the rate of Atm CO2 increase (now positive) to zero (i.e. a constant, not increasing rate of CO2 addition), would require even more time to achieve a new reservoir concentration equilibrium.

    One ought to see today a higher rate of Atm CO2 removal compared to decades ago, and a higher rate of Atm CO2 removal in future years compared to today.

    • donb,

      The main absorption by the oceans is not in the mixed layer, which is very fast in equilibrium with the atmosphere (exchange rate less than a year). the main ocean sinks are in at the deep ocean sink places like the THC in the N.E. Atlantic, where there is an enormous pCO2 difference between the atmosphere (410 μatm) and the cold sinking waters (150 μatm) at the edge of the ice fields.
      Thus while the bulk of the surface is rapidly saturated at about 10% of the change in the atmosphere and thus the Bern model of the IPCC is right, there is no sign of saturation of the deeop ocean sink in the nearby future and until now, the Bern model is wrong – or at least not applicable.
      Neither for vegetation, where the optimum growth for many (C3 cycle) plants is around 1500 ppmv in the atmosphere.

    • In addition:
      The ocean surface (the “mixed layer”) in direct contact with the atmosphere contains about 1000 PgC. The 35% increase of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased that with about 3.5% or about 35 PgC, that is all.
      On the other hand, if all human CO2 until now would be mixed into the deep oceans, that increases the content of the deep oceans (38.000 PgC) with some 1%, or 3 ppmv in the atmosphere when in equilibrium…

  58. Instead of a drain at the bottom of the vat, assume that there is a vertical slot cut in the side of the vat. Initially no water will run out until it reaches the level of the slot. And then as the water rises further, the water will run out faster and faster until it reaches equilibrium.

    Now increase the rate of water flowing in. The level will rise, more will flow out of the slot until a new equilibrium is reached.

    In such a case, the sink rate lags the source rate. But the sink does not stop increasing immediately after the source stops increasing. Rather the sink will continue to increase until a new equilibrium is reached.

    • Ferd B

      That analogy works, and so do a couple of others: A vee-notch weir is used to determine the flow in a stream with a large capacity in terms of variation with a simple device. Another is that the outlet is at the bottom of the vat (simulating the continual removal by rock erosion which continues in the absence of vegetation). As the depth grows the flow out of the bottom hole increases by pressure change. There is a formula for that based on the shape of the entrance to the hole.

      As the choice of baseline is sort of arbitrary, 295 ppm, there is an extraction rate that gives the “correct” answer. One could have used a different baseline, say 220 ppm, and the answer would be different. I think it is important for readers to understand that there is nothing magical about the number, it is about the principle. It establishes that the absorption (or sequestration) rate it is higher than the expectation of the IPCC.

      I think it is worth mentioning that the absorption rate of the biosphere can be determined from the winter-to-summer change in the NH CO2 concentration, say north of 20 latitude (because the tropics aren’t much changed during that time). The rapid draw-down of CO2 in spring is amazing. Very rapid. If there is a continuous release of CO2 by the oceans from upwelling deep water, and there was a prolonged cold period in the NH, for whatever reason, we should expect the CO2 concentration to rise significantly.

      Looking at the level claimed for the early 1800’s, this seems verified. After the little ice age, why would the CO2 level be low when plants were struggling to grow beyond 55N? It should be higher. The CO2 does not COME FROM the plants, it GOES INTO the plants. Anything that cools the planet would drive up CO2 which is not powerful enough to overcome all the cooling.

      The idea that the oceans are warming and releasing CO2 has to be matched with some proof that the deep oceans are warming, because what rises is not warm, though it is replete with absorbed CO2. Perhaps we need to put on the thinking hat where copious amounts of CO2 from the deeps is released continuously, and the plants absorbing it wax and wane with the global temperature, that variation being driven by non-CO2 effects.

      It is by now obvious that the temperature effect of CO2 is not very powerful. The rest has to be explained by something else. If we are heading into a cooling period (as the USA has been for 100 years) we could expect a rise in CO2 resulting from less absorption by living biomass. That would stave off at least some of the temperature drop, resulting in what we observe – a remarkably stable climate over long periods of time.

      If we reached the condition where the oceans cool significantly, the CO2 would drop inexorably, in spite of the loss of living biomass, until a new equilibrium was established.

  59. it is found that the carbon cycle models those projections are based upon remove excess CO2 at only 1/4th the observed rate –> it is found that the carbon cycle models’ projections are based upon remove of excess CO2 at only 1/4th of the observed rate

  60. a comparable level of agreement is a necessary condition of any model that is relied upon to predict future levels of atmospheric CO2 if it is have any hope of making useful predictions of climate change –> a comparable level of agreement is a necessary condition for any model to get relied upon predicting future levels of atmospheric CO2 having any hope of making useful predictions of climate change

    / sheer mikado

  61. where I have computed the yearly average CO2 removal rate from Mauna Loa data, and the simple CO2 budget model in the same way as I did from the RCP scenarios –> where I have computed the yearly average CO2 removal rate from Mauna Loa data, and have computed the simple CO2 budget model in the same way as I did from the RCP scenarios

  62. which produce a reasonably balanced *average* carbon cycle picture (or *average* climate state) will then accurately predict –> which produce a reasonably balanced *average* carbon cycle (or *average* climate state) picture will then accurately predict

  63. Donald L. Klipstein February 7, 2020 at 8:50 am

    The oceans have been a net absorber of CO2 since burning of fossil fuels became a significant source of CO2 –> The oceans have been a shock-absorber of CO2 since evah !

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