Ocean uptake of CO2 could drop as carbon emissions are cut

Shrinkage due to COVID-19 may provide case in point

Earth Institute at Columbia UniversityShare Print E-Mail

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IMAGE: Ocean waters could quickly respond to drops in human carbon emissions by taking up less from the atmosphere. view more  Credit: Kevin Krajick/Earth Institute

Volcanic eruptions and human-caused changes to the atmosphere strongly influence the rate at which the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, says a new study. The ocean is so sensitive to changes such as declining greenhouse gas emissions that it immediately responds by taking up less carbon dioxide.

The authors say we may soon see this play out due to the COVID-19 pandemic lessening global fuel consumption; they predict the ocean will not continue its recent historic pattern of absorbing more carbon dioxide each year than the year before, and could even take up less in 2020 than in 2019.

“We didn’t realize until we did this work that these external forcings, like changes in the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide, dominate the variability in the global ocean on year-to-year timescales. That’s a real surprise,” said lead author Galen McKinley, a carbon cycle scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “As we reduce our emissions and the growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide slows down, it’s important to realize that the ocean carbon sink will respond by slowing down.”

The paper, published today in the journal AGU Advances, largely resolves the uncertainty about what caused the ocean to take up varying amounts of carbon over the last 30 years. The findings will enable more accurate measurements and projections of how much the planet might warm, and how much the ocean might offset climate change in the future.

A carbon sink is a natural system that absorbs excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it away. Earth’s largest carbon sink is the ocean. As a result, it plays a fundamental role in curbing the effects of human-caused climate change. Nearly 40 percent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning since the dawn of the industrial era has been taken up by the ocean.

There’s variability in the rate at which the ocean takes up carbon dioxide, which isn’t fully understood. In particular, the scientific community has puzzled over why the ocean briefly absorbed more carbon dioxide in the early 1990s and then slowly took up less until 2001, a phenomenon verified by numerous ocean observations and models.

McKinley and her coauthors addressed this question by using a diagnostic model to visualize and analyze different scenarios that could have driven greater and lesser ocean carbon uptake between 1980 and 2017. They found the reduced ocean carbon sink of the 1990s can be explained by the slowed growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide early in the decade. Efficiency improvements and the economic collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries are thought to be among the causes of this slowdown.

But another event also affected the carbon sink: The massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 caused the sink to temporarily become much larger coincident with the eruption.

“One of the key findings of this work is that the climate effects of volcanic eruptions such as those of Mount Pinatubo can play important roles in driving the variability of the ocean carbon sink,” said coauthor Yassir Eddebbar, a postdoctoral scholar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Pinatubo was the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. The estimated 20 million tons of ash and gases it spewed high into the atmosphere had a significant impact on climate and the ocean carbon sink. The researchers found that Pinatubo’s emissions caused the ocean to take up more carbon in 1992 and 1993. The carbon sink slowly declined until 2001, when human activity began pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The ocean responded by absorbing these excess emissions.

“This study is important for a number of reasons, but I’m most interested in what it means for our ability to predict the near-term, one to ten years out, future for the ocean carbon sink,” said coauthor said Nicole Lovenduski, an oceanographer at the University of Colorado Boulder. “The future external forcing is unknown. We don’t know when the next big volcanic eruption will occur, for example. And the COVID-19-driven carbon dioxide emissions reduction was certainly not anticipated very far in advance.”

Investigating how the Pinatubo eruption impacted global climate, and thus the ocean carbon sink, and whether the drop in emissions due to COVID-19 is reflected in the ocean are among the research team’s next plans.

By understanding variability in the ocean carbon sink, the scientists can continue to refine projections of how the ocean system will slow down.

McKinley cautions that as global emissions are cut, there will be an interim phase where the ocean carbon sink will slow down and not offset climate change as much as in the past. That extra carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere and contribute to additional warming, which may surprise some people, she said.

“We need to discuss this coming feedback. We want people to understand that there will be a time when the ocean will limit the effectiveness of mitigation actions, and this should also be accounted for in policymaking,” she said.

###

The study was coauthored by Amanda Fay and Lucas Gloege of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

From EurekAlert!

94 thoughts on “Ocean uptake of CO2 could drop as carbon emissions are cut

  1. McKiney said: “The massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 caused the sink to temporarily become much larger coincident with the eruption.” and
    “McKinley cautions that as global emissions are cut, there will be an interim phase where the ocean carbon sink will slow down and not offset climate change as much as in the past. That extra carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere and contribute to additional warming, which may surprise some people, she said.”
    So the oceans can absorb the CO2 from a volcanic eruption, but a decrease in anthropogenic CO2 will not?

    • This is rubbish. It’s like saying that as you ease off on the accelerator in a truck and the vehicle slows down, the reduction is air drag will make you go faster.

      The authors say we may soon see this play out due to the COVID-19 pandemic lessening global fuel consumption; they predict the ocean will not continue its recent historic pattern of absorbing more carbon dioxide each year than the year before, and could even take up less in 2020 than in 2019.

      Firstly, the reduction in emissions this year will not even produce a detectable difference in the rise of atm CO2. The year to year variability in the natural annual cycle is far greater than any possible change due to emissions.

      He seems totally unaware that by far the greatest factor in annual rate of change in atm CO2 is SST: d/dt(CO2) is a function of temperature. This was seen after Mt Pinatubo.

      The researchers found that Pinatubo’s emissions caused the ocean to take up more carbon in 1992 and 1993. The carbon sink slowly declined until 2001

      To reach that conclusion they are artfully masking the far greater drop which immediately preceded the rise.

      https://climategrog.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/dco2-hadsst-ersst.png
      Failing to discuss that and only discussing the rise which fits their distorted “understanding” of the causes is simply deceitful.

      • “Firstly, the reduction in emissions this year will not even produce a detectable difference in the rise of atm CO2. The year to year variability in the natural annual cycle is far greater than any possible change due to emissions.”

        That’s the whole point of this article. It’s a diversion. They don’t want us saying: “Oh look, in spite of the HUGE reduction in ‘carbon pollution’ due to the CCP virus hoax there’s been no detectable reduction in the rate of increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

        Could it be because human caused increase is dwarfed by the natural increase from the oceans?
        Or could it be that China is emitting so much carbon dioxide that what we in the West are emitting makes no measurable difference?
        In any event I think the mechanisms involved for absorption are way more complex than they think they are. For starters just think how absorbent are all the [rain] drops of very cold FRESH water with a large surface area speeding their way down through the atmosphere into oceans and rivers at any one time right across the planet.

        • Or could it be that China is emitting so much carbon dioxide that what we in the West are emitting makes no measurable difference?…and the rest of the developing world

          …we have a winner

    • Mt. Pinatubo eruption caused a global temperature drop of 0.5 C since the a huge amount of ash in the stratosphere. The reduced amount of sunlight should have reduced the photosynthesis of plants which would be observed as the greater CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The opposite happened. The CO2 concentration had a very clear anomaly downwards during the five years of the eruption influence. The reason was that the ash particles in the atmosphere caused the sunlight to scatter and this diffuse light came from different directions; this meant more light to leaves of trees.

      The researcheres did not know this and they concluded that for some unkonen reason the oceans would have absorbed more CO2. This paper is nonsense.

      • That’s very interesting regarding more diffuse light to leaves of trees. Could you share a reference that discusses this and its impact on CO2 concentrations?

        • Good question Scissor.

          It’s been hypothesized that sunlight diffused by dust or aerosols reaches more lower tiers of leaves than direct sunlight, and so promotes more plant growth and more CO2 sequestration. It seems very reasonable but AFAIK it hasn’t been proven by observation. And it would be an exceedingly difficult thing to measure in practice.

          It might be possible to see a pattern in tree rings if there really was enhanced growth after Pinatubo. But we all know how reliable tree rings are.

          On the other hand, I could write the code for a model that would prove it beyond all doubt. That’s how climate science works to divine the truth. /s

          ================
          As Antero points out, the paper behind this article doesn’t consider any of the land-based CO2 uptake, but relies on very sparse data on ocean water chemistry that is assumed to be representative of the entire ocean. They admit the poor quality of this data set:

          Variability may be amplified by the significant extrapolation that occurs when global full‐coverage maps are produced from these very sparse data

          No kidding!

        • Scissor,

          I think the original “sunlight scattering” paper related to Pinatubo was by Gu et al, 2003, and can be downloaded from here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10832080_Response_of_a_Deciduous_Forest_to_the_Mount_Pinatubo_Eruption_Enhanced_Photosynthesis

          Another recent discussion of the effect of Pinatubo can be found here (I have not read this one yet, which is by Eddebbar et al, 2019):

          https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0458.1

      • As our increasingly rapid production of CO2 has not changed the CO2 atmospheric graph, we are having no effect at all. So, why would we assume that making less would have any effect? Really?

        It is clear that the atmosphere and oceans are in control of Co2. We are spectators.

    • Surely there are 4 main factors which affect the rate of CO2 going into solution in the oceans:
      The surface area of the oceans – not changing
      The atmospheric concentration of CO2 – variable for multiple reasons including increased plant and general vegetative growth under more favourable (higher) CO2 levels
      The surface and deeper temperature of the oceans – colder means more CO2 goes into solution
      The levels of dissolved CO2 present in sea water – variable for multiple reasons including underwater CO2 emissions from volcanic plumes

      I wouldn’t consider this in any way an “important” study.

      • Yes, I think to use Greg’s analogy, what happens when one eases off the accelerator depends on whether one is on a flat stretch, going up hill or going down hill.

      • Old England.
        “The surface area of the oceans – not changing”

        The surface area of the open water of the Arctic Ocean (a big sink) changes dramatically with the seasons. In winter, most of the ocean is covered with ice and the amount of CO2 continually being delivered from the tropical natural sources builds up. In the summer, when the ice melts, all that buildup is absorbed by the cold water and phytoplankton blooms. CO2 doesn’t hang around from year to year in the Arctic. Because about 95% of atmospheric CO2 is from natural sources, a drop of 25% in anthropogenic emissions will not be detectable.

        http://www.retiredresearcher.wordpress.com

    • If I read rightly, this is based on an assumption that ocean take-up is a function of annual change of atmospheric CO2, not on the level of CO2. Ignoring for a moment the issue of inherent inaccuracy of differentials, this assumption is equivalent to saying that the ocean can take derivatives.

      So Greg Goodman’s analogy, below, is quite apropos.

  2. “We didn’t realize until we did this work that these external forcings, like changes in the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide, dominate the variability in the global ocean on year-to-year timescales. That’s a real surprise,” said lead author Galen McKinley, a carbon cycle scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “As we reduce our emissions and the growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide slows down, it’s important to realize that the ocean carbon sink will respond by slowing down.”

    This is an extreme form of the atmosphere bias of climate science.
    The atmosphere controlling oceanic co2 is like Tuvalu controlling the global economy.
    The ocean and atmosphere together weigh 1.32 million teratons of which the ocean is 99.62% and the atmosphere 0.38%

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/01/26/ocean-acidification-the-evil-twin-of-climate-change/

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/02/27/a-co2-nightmare-hydrothermal-vents/

  3. How do they know oceans are absorbing less CO2 ? Did they measure the CO2 content of all the oceans before and after ? No, of course they did not. We find the answer : “McKinley and her coauthors addressed this question by using a diagnostic model”. MODELS ! Junk science once again.

    • Roughly half the natural sink is land based, they do not even seem to consider what changes happened there.

      McKinley cautions that as global emissions are cut, there will be an interim phase where the ocean carbon sink will slow down and not offset climate change as much as in the past.

      They are priming for the need to explain why, when we strangle our economies to reduce emissions it has ZERO effect “climate”. It seems they already realise that CO2 is NOT the control knob and proactively working of excuses of why ( natural ) variability still continues. Of course, if warming does slow they will quietly forget this paper and say : it’s exactly what we predicted.

      As always they are trying to have their cake and eat it. Heads we win , tails you lose.

    • I was about to write something like the “rate of the uptake depends on the level only”, but I really like your question.. well done, ggm! Straight to the point, how would the ocean know?

  4. Do oceans take up more CO2 due to increased concentrations even though they are (supposedly) warmer?
    Can you have it both ways?

      • Ultimately, biological processes have great importance, especially with regard to sinks.

      • rubbish again – no one can measure how much has been stored in the ocean – or any other carbon sinks – In fact – one could hypothesize that – the oceans are still warming due to the gradual slow process of coming out of the last ice age and most of the ~~0.01% increase measured at Mauna Loa could be to do with that – (but that would be another non-falsifiable hypothesis because it’s immeasurable ) no one knows because it’s immeasurable and my copy was also related to since the start of the industrial revolution – well no one knows what the concentration was then because no one was measuring it until Charles Keeling began in 1958 but the official start is 1959 and I’m not going to teach you about why – you are incorrect Nick – you just don’t get it

  5. CO2 levels will not decline enough due to the pandemic to even detect it in the Keeling Curve in the Mona Loa observatory record (Spencer). Ocean temperatures will not fluctuate enough to significantly effect CO2 out gassing trends (sea levels via tide gauges continues its 150 year linear trend).

    Therefore, the variability in oceanic CO2 uptake will most likely be undetectable.

    • “CO2 levels will not decline enough due to the pandemic to even detect it in the Keeling Curve in the Mona Loa observatory record (Spencer)”
      True, at least for a few months. And ocean uptake responds to the whole concentration, not the emissions.

      • and Nick answer me this – where was the account keeping – happening at the dawn of this revolution when coalminers including children were bringing up coal in the UK and who was measuring how much went into every steam engine, fire place – steam corvette, steam ship ( and then in America) etc. etc and how much CO2 was generated due to all that and then – how much of this was being stored in the ocean – we still can measure it even since 1959 – there are numerous unaccountable carbon sinks – it goes on and on – you don’t have a clue

    • This is the detrended global annual atm. CO2 cycle. The COVID shutdown happened around the peak. It is clear that the year to year variations in the cycle are far greater than any difference we can expect to see from reduced human emissions.

      https://climategrog.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/co2_gl-detrended.png

      It would probably need a drop of about 1ppm in the peak for it to be clearly attributable to the shutdown. That gives some idea of the degree of disruption to the economy which would be required just to have a detectable difference , let alone to dream of it having any effect on “climate change / disruption / weirding “.

  6. What they describe is that oceans provide a tremendous negative feedback (stabilizing effect).

  7. And a second question, if all of the 125+ppm of additional post Industrial Revolution CO2 is due to human emissions, surely then, a significant reduction in human emissions should be immediately obvious at Moana Loa? But I gather it is not, so perhaps not all of the extra ppm are due to human emissions?

    • “And a second question, if all of the 125+ppm of additional post Industrial Revolution CO2 is due to human emissions, surely then, a significant reduction in human emissions should be immediately obvious at Moana Loa”
      No. The 125 ppm have accumulated over a century. The rate of accumulation is about 2.4 ppm/year, or 0.2 ppm/month. A 10% reduction of emissions changes Mauna Loa by about 0.02 ppm/month, out of over 400 ppm. Not immediately obvious.

      • Yes, even if we count 3mo of shut down @ -10% that’s 0.06ppm total. Even an order of magnitude more change would just like the typical ripples in the annual cycle. Attribution would be impossible. Huge as the economic impact was it is at least 10x too small to be visible, let alone attributable on the global atmospheric CO2 levels.

        https://climategrog.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/co2_gl-detrended.png

        We screwed our economy and it did not even make a blip. That clearly tells us of the futility of thinking we can control climate via “emissions reduction” .

  8. ” Nearly 40 percent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning since the dawn of the industrial era has been taken up by the ocean’. I’m sorry as a scientist and chemist, I would strongly suggest that this estimate of 40% is immeasurable and if it is measurable – then please explain how??
    and yes water reacting with CO2 to produce carbonic acid in the ocean has been known for a v. v. long time – so I don’t understand why these scientists are surprised?? since oceans cover about 70% of the surface of the Earth and to some depth. And one must not forget that lakes, rivers, dams etc etc – all water bodies absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and they do it more as the temperature of the water decreases – as it does quasi periodically in the oceans due to La Nina and El Nino changes, and glacial changes as well .

    • “if it is measurable – then please explain how??”
      Easy. We know how much C we burnt – there is big money and many accountants involved. And we know how much stayed in the air – just ppm * total air mass.

      • “And we know how much stayed in the air – just ppm * total air mass.”

        No we don’t.

        • Why don’t you try to make reasoned argument? Unqualified negation gives no idea why you thing Nick is incorrect ( other than the fact he is called Nick Stokes , of course ).

          • Nick didn’t make an argument as to why we know how much CO2 stayed in the air.

            When he does I will engage him.

            Unless you want to do it, Greg? 🙂

          • Considering that Nick made one of his famous stupid, simplistic statements with no facts to back up his assertion then leitmotif has every right to counter with a simple statement. The accuracy of the estimates of how much CO2 man puts into the atmosphere alone makes Nick’s statement pure gibberish.

          • “Nick didn’t make an argument as to why we know how much CO2 stayed in the air.”
            I set it out with algebra. Here it is with arithmetic. We have gone from about 280 ppm to about 410 ppmv, a difference of 130 ppmv. It is actually 130*(density ratio=1.98/1.275)= 202 ppmm. The mass of air is about 5.1e+18 kg. So that is about 1.03e+15 kg CO2 stayed in the air. 1030 Gtons.

      • Nick is quite correct. We know reasonably accurately how much CO2 we have released into the atmosphere, and by how much the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has changed. By doing our calculations in the same calendar month at beginning and end of a given period, we get a first-order estimate of the ocean take-up. We would then need to adjust for some relatively minor amounts such as land flora take-up and land volcanoes.

        • I would suggest that both Katie and Nick can be right depending on the assumptions one makes and the timescale under consideration.

          Over the short term, your mass balance approach seems correct. However, nature controls 95+% of CO2 sources and sinks and over longer timescales, more research is needed.

        • “Nick is quite correct. ”

          I don’t think Nick is quite correct in this instance but that is irrelevant because that is just my opinion. I would guess he feels the same about me or any other contrary posters on here.

          Simply, I think Nick fights his corner and it is up to others to put up arguments as to why they think he is wrong.

          It is obvious Nick is intelligent so it is not rational to see him as some sort of WUWT troll.

          Nick Stokes is a very important poster on WUWT because he gives you the incentive to raise the quality of your arguments and more importantly it stops this blog from becoming a “preaching to the choir” blog like the Guardian.

          Lest we become like them.

          Now Mosher …….

      • Exactly how much C has been burned?

        you can’t get ppm by multiplying it by total air mass

        Here’s a question for you but only if you wear cotton: What amount of C is in each thread of the cotton T-shirt you are wearing (it could even be a blend), now once you’ve calculated that, go burn that shirt outside and keep all the ashes. Measure the amount of ash after the shirt and calculate how much C is left in it. Now equate that much C to how much money by utilizing real math to figure out how much each C atom cost you.

        When you have figured that out–why not let the big money and many accountants tell you how you didn’t include sulfur costs of the match in your calculations or the flint flake costs if you used a lighter. K?

        My point is that you have no idea what you are talking about. If you are so worried about conserving C, then realize 1 thing: you just at rest exhale about 35g of CO2 per minute and shed millions of tiny C atoms in the form of dead skin cells every single day. In other words, quite harping on the substance YOU ARE MADE OF unless you really don’t like being alive and see humans as disgusting vs natural that is. Up to you.

        • 35g of CO2 per minute is on the high side and probably by about a factor of 10.

          That would be 2.1 kg/hour or 50.4 kg/day. Now assume that 73% of that came from oxygen in the air, that would leave 13.6 kg of C from whatever one ingested. But in reality some of that oxygen would have come from the food one consumed, and obviously some carbon leaves the body elsewhere, and further food only contains a fraction of carbon. We just don’t consume that much food in a day.

          I’d guess we probably eat about a couple of kg of food a day, which includes a lot of water. Say 50% of that food is carbon, that would give 42 g/hour and 0.7 g/min. Now add back oxygen, and that gives 2.6 g CO2/min. But again carbon also leaves elsewhere, so it’ll be somewhat lower.

          Does that make sense? 2.6 g CO2 would be 0.06 mole or 1.3 L at STP. The breath is about 40,000 ppm CO2, so that would give about 33 L/min of breath. Seems a little high but not unreasonable.

      • Do we know how much increase in the Earth’s biomass has accumulated with the acknowledged “greening” of the Earth, a result of rising CO2 and mild warming? Enough to account for part of human CO2 emissions?

      • We know how much C we burnt…

        Well, since it’s Nick, we must assume that C stands for cannabis.

      • “I set it out with algebra. Here it is with arithmetic. We have gone from about 280 ppm to about 410 ppmv, a difference of 130 ppmv. It is actually 130*(density ratio=1.98/1.275)= 202 ppmm. The mass of air is about 5.1e+18 kg. So that is about 1.03e+15 kg CO2 stayed in the air. 1030 Gtons.”

        The only fact in there Nick is that “We have gone from about 280 ppm to about 410 ppmv, a difference of 130 ppmv.”

        Nice arithmetic but no cigar, Nick. You have no evidence that the CO2 that “stayed in the air” is anthropogenic. You can talk about C14 in the atmosphere, changes in atmospheric C12/C13 isotope ratios, there is no human fingerprint that the atmospheric CO2 increase is anthropogenic.

        Repeat after me Nick, “CO2 is my friend. I would never hurt my friend.” 🙂

        • The question wasn’t how much of our CO2 stayed in the atmosphere, it was what proportion was taken up by the ocean. So it’s irrelevant what proportion in the atmosphere is man-made.

      • rubbish = it’s immeasurable – as the famous Distinguished professor of climate science – John Christy would tell you we do not have any way to tell how much atm. CO2 comes from where – you’re kidding your self – yes we’re up to 0.04 % of total air mass – but the increase – direct measurements from Mauna Loa officially began in 1959 AND NO ONE on this planet can tell you where and how much that about 0/.01% increase has come from – it immeasurable – sorry but you really don’t get it

      • since the dawn of the industrial revolution – no one was measuring since the dawn of this amazing revolution – measurements began and no one has a way of determining – after 1959 – how much has been stored in the ocean – it’s immeasurable – the about 0.01 % could be related to numerous factors – all of which are immeasurable – you are incorrect Nick and did not even read my full ‘italics’

  9. “A carbon sink is a natural system that absorbs excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it away …”.
    “Excess” -> ‘an amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable’; who decides what is necessary permitted or desirable?
    Bill McKibben?
    There is a lower atmospheric CO2 concentration limit, 150ppm, below which plant life dies and that limit was approached during periodic glaciations during the past million or so years.
    The levels of 250 – 300ppm during past interglacial periods occurred by natural processes not design.
    Whoever wrote the sentence above has a teleological view of the planet where there is a prescribed atmospheric CO2 concentration that prevailed up until humans began to industrialize.

    • “…. who decides what is necessary permitted or desirable?”

      Nature.
      It is whatever the biosphere’s carbon cycle circulates in any particular epoch.
      Largely dictated by Earth’s orbital characteristics.
      In the period of mankind’s adaption to this particular epoch it has been of the order of 280 ppm.

  10. Once I read this sentence, I realised it was pointless reading the rest.
    “Earth’s largest carbon sink is the ocean. As a result, it plays a fundamental role in curbing the effects of human-caused climate change”
    As no one has been able to separate, the impact on the climate of human input, from natural variation of climate, the study is flawed. It spuriously suggests CO2 absorption rates in the oceans, of human activity evolved production of CO2 will impact climate. The inference being only human evolved CO2 creates climate change. How simple an existence we would have, if that were the case.
    NB I did read the rest of the article.

  11. McKinley cautions that as global emissions are cut, there will be an interim phase where the ocean carbon sink will slow down and not offset climate change as much as in the past.

    Sink is not uniform all over the world’s oceans, as the temperature is not uniform either.

    Source and sink from the oceans depend on the latitude, the prevailing circulation, temperatures, fauna, etc., etc.

    Seems to me McKinley is cherry picking for the sake of creating a paid study with the standard profitable headline.

    • Apart from underling the total futility of trying to control climate via human FF emissions, this is just laying the ground for an excuse when it does not work.

    • Also, there is a short time-frame process as an oceanic carbon sink….simple inorganic dissolving of CO2 in the water….and a longer term process….the uptake of CO2 by sea phytoplankton, the biomass of which may increase with more CO2 (aka “plant food“) in the water, and which then enters the ocean’s general food chain. And, there is yet the even longer term incorporation of CO2 into calcium carbonate in shells and corals, some of which is sunk into the sink for eons.

      My guess is that these ocean-sink processes have been poorly quantified so far by science, even though, as we know, climate science is settled.

  12. I had to blink when I read this!
    Are we seeing yet another attempt by pseudo-scientists to baffle the sheeple?
    Who paid for this rubbish?

    As Wedgewood Benn used to say very nicely,-

    “who elected you”.
    “who do you claim to represent”.
    “how do we get rid of you”.

    All very apt for the unelected, unapologetic, parasitic-proliferating pseudo-earth institute (s)

  13. There is Henry’s Law which says that the concentration of a gas in water (ie. the ocean) is proportional to the concentration of that gas in the atmosphere.

    In term of the climate, Henry’s Law operates almost instantaneously so that gives some plausibility to the paper. Henry’s law is also temperature dependant. That means the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere depends on the temperature of the ocean. That probably explains why atmospheric CO2 lags temperature.

    On a longer time scale, plankton consumes CO2 from the ocean and thereby draws down the CO2 in the atmosphere. link

    The press release doesn’t mention Henry’s Law, or ocean temperature, or plankton. That doesn’t mean they aren’t in the paper, which I haven’t read. Those three things are a ‘big deal’ though and can’t be ignored.

    • Yes, Henry´s Law is the key, which is seldom mentioned in climate”science”, maybe because it´s real incovenient truth. Sun warms oceans and they release CO2. When oceans cool they take CO2. The lag in atmospheric temperature is the window of opportunity to climate”science”. And now, with weak sun that window is closing.

    • cB posted; “In terms of the climate, Henry’s Law operates almost instantaneously so that gives some plausibility to the paper.”

      To first order, the non-biological absorption of CO2 in the world’s oceans is governed by diffusion of gaseous CO2 into liquid water (at the gas/liquid interface), with some enhancement from atmospheric circulation and convection (surface wave action and ocean currents), and then by vertical diffusion through the local depth of the ocean. Since deep-water ocean currents flow in mostly horizontal, “stratified” layers (yeah, yeah, I know there are the exceptions of upwellings and long-term ocean basin vertical circulation flows), there is a predominately diffusion-driven rate of vertical CO2 absorption/desorption in the deeper ocean layers, say below 100 m depth.

      I assure you that NOTHING following the diffusion equation over a reasonable path length physically operates “almost instantaneously”. For common examples, look how long it takes for your soda or beer to go flat, and that is over a vertical depth of, what, six inches.

      Henry’s Law is a statement about equilibrium conditions. Even if one assumes the qualifying phrase “in terms of the climate” is taken to apply to a 30 year period (the NOAA- and NASA-asserted period for defining “climate”), there is ZERO chance in this timeframe the world oceans—with an average depth of about 12,000 feet—would reach “equilibrium” with any step-change in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Probably not even 10,000 years would allow reaching 90% of equilibrium.

  14. I think we understand the science well enough, without this voodoo interpretation by these dyslexic Aussie modelers.

    “CARBON DIOXIDE IS NOT THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING”,
    By Allan MacRae, January 2008
    icecap.us/images/uploads/CO2vsTMacRae.pdf

    CO2, GLOBAL WARMING, CLIMATE AND ENERGY
    by Allan M.R. MacRae, June 15, 2019
    wattsupwiththat.com/2019/06/15/co2-global-warming-climate-and-energy-2/
    Excel: wattsupwiththat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Rev_CO2-Global-Warming-Climate-and-Energy-June2019-FINAL.xlsx

    1a. In 2008 I made the following major observations:
    a. The velocity of changes of atmospheric CO2 [dCO2/dt] varies ~contemporaneously with changes in global temperature (Fig.1a).
    b. Therefore the integral of dCO2/dt, changes in atmospheric CO2, lag changes in global atmospheric temperature by ~9 months (Fig.1b).

    Later I was advised that Kuo et al (1990) made a similar observation to ‘b’, as did Keeling (1995), in papers published in Nature. Neither noted point ‘a’ above.

    Kuo’s and Keeling’s findings have been carefully ignored for decades by the warmist camp – another “inconvenient truth”.

    Fig.1a – The very close relationship of dCO2/dt vs global temperature is clearly apparent. Major volcanoes disrupt the relationship.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/from:1979/mean:12/derivative/plot/uah6/from:1979/scale:0.22/offset:0.14

    5. UAH LT Global Temperatures can be predicted ~4 months in the future with just two parameters:

    UAHLT (+4 months) = 0.2*Nino34Anomaly + 0.15 – 5*SatoGlobalAerosolOpticalDepth (Figs. 5a and 5b)

    Note the suppression of air temperatures during and after the 1982-83 El Nino, due to two century-scale volcanoes El Chichon (1982) and Mount Pinatubo (1991+).
    Much of the atmospheric warming from ~1982-1996 (blue trend) was a recovery from the two major volcanoes – Nino34 SST’s (purple trend) cooled slightly.

    Note that Nino34 temperatures have cooled strongly in the past month – will we see a repeat of the failed 2019 harvest on the Great Plains again this year?
    tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/ocean/nino34.png

    6. The sequence is Nino34 Area SST warms, seawater evaporates, Tropical atmospheric humidity increases, Tropical atmospheric temperature warms, Global atmospheric temperature warms, atmospheric CO2 increases (Figs.6a and 6b).

    Other factors such as fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, etc. may also cause significant increases in atmospheric CO2. However, global temperature drives CO2 much more than CO2 drives temperature.

    7a. Why does the lag of atmospheric CO2 changes after temperature changes equal ~9 months?
    In a perfect sine wave, the integral lags its derivative by pi/2, or 1/4 cycle.
    There should therefore be approximately a (4 times 9 months = 36 months) 3 year average period in the data.
    And there is – the inter-related datasets above show a ~3-year period, with the integral lagging its derivative by ~1/4 cycle.

  15. McKinley and her coauthors addressed this question by using a diagnostic model to visualize and analyze different scenarios that could have driven greater and lesser ocean carbon uptake between 1980 and 2017. They found the reduced ocean carbon sink of the 1990s can be explained by the slowed growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide early in the decade. Efficiency improvements and the economic collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries are thought to be among the causes of this slowdown.

    But another event also affected the carbon sink: The massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 caused the sink to temporarily become much larger coincident with the eruption.

    “One of the key findings of this work is that the climate effects of volcanic eruptions such as those of Mount Pinatubo can play important roles in driving the variability of the ocean carbon sink,” said coauthor Yassir Eddebbar, a postdoctoral scholar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

    Pinatubo was the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. The estimated 20 million tons of ash and gases it spewed high into the atmosphere had a significant impact on climate and the ocean carbon sink. The researchers found that Pinatubo’s emissions caused the ocean to take up more carbon in 1992 and 1993. The carbon sink slowly declined until 2001, when human activity began pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The ocean responded by absorbing these excess emissions.

    The ocean cooled after Mt. Pintatubo from the sun’s predictable cycle declining phase TSI drop.

    https://i.postimg.cc/C55TwXGp/Solar-vs-Volcanic-Cooling.jpg

    https://i.postimg.cc/vm8hrNT4/AGU-Fig12.jpg

    The CO2 drop afterwards can be then attributed to less outgassing from the falling temperature, and from a vast amount of SO2 being absorbed by the ocean that overwhelmed CO2 solubility at the surface, since SO2 is ~80X more soluble than CO2.

    Naturally, the ocean didn’t outgas CO2 as much, making the sink larger, irrespective of emissions.

    • fixed –

      McKinley and her coauthors addressed this question by using a diagnostic model to visualize and analyze different scenarios that could have driven greater and lesser ocean carbon uptake between 1980 and 2017. They found the reduced ocean carbon sink of the 1990s can be explained by the slowed growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide early in the decade. Efficiency improvements and the economic collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries are thought to be among the causes of this slowdown.

      But another event also affected the carbon sink: The massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 caused the sink to temporarily become much larger coincident with the eruption.

      “One of the key findings of this work is that the climate effects of volcanic eruptions such as those of Mount Pinatubo can play important roles in driving the variability of the ocean carbon sink,” said coauthor Yassir Eddebbar, a postdoctoral scholar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

      Pinatubo was the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. The estimated 20 million tons of ash and gases it spewed high into the atmosphere had a significant impact on climate and the ocean carbon sink. The researchers found that Pinatubo’s emissions caused the ocean to take up more carbon in 1992 and 1993. The carbon sink slowly declined until 2001, when human activity began pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The ocean responded by absorbing these excess emissions.

      The ocean cooled after Mt. Pinatubo from the sun’s predictable cycle declining phase TSI drop.

      https://i.postimg.cc/C55TwXGp/Solar-vs-Volcanic-Cooling.jpg

      https://i.postimg.cc/vm8hrNT4/AGU-Fig12.jpg

      The CO2 drop afterwards can then be attributed to less outgassing from the falling temperature, and from a vast amount of SO2 being absorbed by the ocean that overwhelmed CO2 solubility at the surface, since SO2 is ~80X more soluble than CO2.

      Naturally, the ocean didn’t outgas CO2 as much, making the sink larger, irrespective of emissions.

  16. Their conclusion is very convenient. Once we stop having carbon emissions we won’ see anything change for a while (not specified how long) because of the ocean. Therefore there is no possible way to evaluate or measure any change due to any change we make, no matter how drastic. However we must sally forth and continue to turn our society on its head controlling emissions anyway.

  17. Alternative version of study:

    “Okay, so it’s starting to become obvious that human “emissions” are just background noise, and although you wouldn’t expect to see any meaningful reductions yet it’s going to take years, maybe even decades before the world is operating anything like the way it was but CO2 levels will continue on an upward trend until we enter the next cooling cycle. Clearly we have to come up with an excuse to explain why levels aren’t dropping, and won’t drop despite lower emissions. This is garbage, but it’s the best I can come up with”

    Galen McKinley

  18. I just sent a fixed version of my missing blockquote comment.

    From Columbia

    In particular, the scientific community has puzzled over why the ocean briefly absorbed more carbon dioxide in the early 1990s and then slowly took up less until 2001, a phenomenon verified by numerous ocean observations and models.

    .

    http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/StratAer/tau.line_2013.03.gif

    http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/StratAer/tau.map_2013.03.gif

    There’s no volcanic activity after Mt Pinatubo to explain the 1997 La Nina, and CO2 increased from the La Nina to 2001 naturally, from more outgassing, explaining the lack of uptake. Duh!

    OT: Today the US fries again from high UV index:

    https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/uv_index/uvi_map.gif

  19. The amount of CO2 absorbed by the oceans is directly proportional to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    It took these rocket scientists this long to figure that out?

  20. So now they have their bases covered when CO2 trends in the atmosphere do not follow the trend of fossil fuel use – they can claim the laws of physics in the Oceans changed!

    I wonder if these people are really corrupt or just so ignorant they actually believe this stuff.

  21. ““We didn’t realize until we did this work that these external forcings, like changes in the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide, dominate the variability in the global ocean on year-to-year timescales. That’s a real surprise,” said lead author Galen McKinley”

    “this work”!?

    “McKinley and her coauthors addressed this question by using a diagnostic model to visualize and analyze different scenarios that could have driven greater and lesser ocean carbon uptake between 1980 and 2017”

    Oh! They used a model based upon their assumptions.

    Meanwhile in the real world:

    Global CO2 measurement hits record high in May despite pandemic

    Industries shut down.
    Vehicle usage plummets.
    Hotels, conference centers, auditoriums, arenas, stadiums, churches, schools, universities, etc. shut down.
    Economies destroyed.

    All can be blamed on model biases.

    Yet, CO₂ continues to rise.

    “Carbon dioxide recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reached 417 parts per million (ppm) in May, higher than the record of 414.8 ppm set last year”

    Appears to not having anything to do with reduced ocean CO₂ uptake nor mankind causing the insignificant annual CO₂ increases

  22. So I looked at the data. Mt Pinatubo’s effect is not visible on the graph, and must be smaller than 1/4 of the seasonal cycle. Therefore, this whole paper is meaningless since the data they use to calibrate their pile of models isn’t significant. To be meaningful, you would have to take the raw CO2 data, indicate eruptions and quantities of CO2 emitted without knowing this information ahead of time, and show that these values match historical data and our best estimates of CO2 emitted by these volcanoes (hopefully based on some real samples). Then your model might have some validity and you could calculate the slight change in the ocean’s take-up due to the human-caused slight change in CO2 production.

  23. Ralph Keeling from Mauna Loa was interviewed: “Based on calculations of how many fewer tons of carbon dioxide would be added to the atmosphere if there were a sustained 10-percent decline, Keeling estimated CO2 levels in the atmosphere would deviate by roughly 0.5 ppm under that scenario”. So we have to wait one year? – No! – Ten years ago only 90% of today’s carbon dioxode was added. Both then and now the the accumulation in the atmosphere was/is 2 ppm per year. – His model fails. Where does the missing 0.5 ppm come from? From the sea water?

  24. This is transparent political BS as is clear to anyone with an IQ larger than their shoe size. It’s as 100% fabricated as Surgisphere epidemiology. This is Surgisphere climatology – made up to order for a political message-du-jour. Falling CO2 from coronavirus can’t possibly lead to anything good, so make up data quick to get ahead of that narrative and stop it gaining traction. Repulsive and pathetic.

  25. This paper has the comical feel of Fawlty Towers desperation about it. Any good news story involving CO2 has to be stamped out no matter what idiotic deceit and fabrication is needed. Black comedy at its best.

  26. “The ocean is so sensitive to changes such as declining greenhouse gas emissions that it immediately responds by taking up less carbon dioxide”

    This is a fancy way of saying that we can’t measure carbon cycle flows and that therefore we don’t really know these flows well enough to detect the effect of relatively small CO2 flows from fossil fuel emissions.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/05/31/the-carbon-cycle-measurement-problem/

    And that is why we don’t have any empirical evidence that atmospheric composition is responsive to fossil fuel emissions.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/12/19/co2responsiveness/

    And yet the whole of the basis for AGW climate change and climate action is based on this imagined relationship i which fossil fuel emissions change atmospheric composition.

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