Estimates of the carbon cycle – vital to predicting climate change – are incorrect, Virginia Tech researchers show

[obligatory disclaimers sprinkled throughout ha~cr]

The findings do not counter the established science of climate change but highlight how the accounting of the amount of carbon withdrawn by plants and returned by soil is not accurate.

Peer-Reviewed Publication

VIRGINIA TECH

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CREDIT: VIRGINA TECH

Virginia Tech researchers, in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, have discovered that key parts of the global carbon cycle used to track movement of carbon dioxide in the environment are not correct, which could significantly alter conventional carbon cycle models.

The estimate of how much carbon dioxide plants pull from the atmosphere is critical to accurately monitor and predict the amount of climate-changing gasses in the atmosphere. This finding has the potential to change predictions for climate change, though it is unclear at this juncture if the mismatch will result in more or less carbon dioxide being accounted for in the environment.

“Either the amount of carbon coming out of the atmosphere from the plants is wrong or the amount coming out of the soil is wrong,” said Meredith Steele, an assistant professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, whose Ph.D. student at the time, Jinshi Jian, led the research team. The findings are to be published Friday in Nature Communications.

“We are not challenging the well-established climate change science, but we should be able to account for all carbon in the ecosystem and currently cannot,” she said. “What we found is that the models of the ecosystem’s response to climate change need updating.”

Jian and Steele’s work focuses on carbon cycling and how plants and soil remove and return carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

To understand how carbon affects the ecosystems on Earth, it’s important to know exactly where all the carbon is going. This process, called carbon accounting, says how much carbon is going where, how much is in each of Earth’s carbon pools of the oceans, atmosphere, land, and living things.

For decades, researchers have been trying to get an accurate accounting of where our carbon is and where it is going. Virginia Tech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers focused on the carbon dioxide that gets drawn out of the atmosphere by plants through photosynthesis.

When animals eat plants, the carbon moves into the terrestrial ecosystem. It then moves into the soil or to animals. And a large amount of carbon is also exhaled — or respirated — back into the atmosphere.

This carbon dioxide that’s coming in and going out is essential for balancing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change and storing carbon long-term.

However, Virginia Tech researchers discovered that when using the accepted numbers for soil respiration, that number in the carbon cycling models is no longer balanced.

“Photosynthesis and respiration are the driving forces of the carbon cycle, however the total annual sum of each of these at the global scale has been elusive to measure,” said Lisa Welp, an associate professor of earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences at Purdue University, who is familiar with the work but was not part of the research. “The authors’ attempts to reconcile these global estimates from different communities show us that they are not entirely self-consistent and there is more to learn about these fundamental processes on the planet.”

What Jian and Steele, along with the rest of the team, found is that by using the gross primary productivity of carbon dioxide’s accepted number of 120 petagrams — each petagram is a billion metric tons — the amount of carbon coming out through soil respiration should be in the neighborhood of 65 petagrams.

By analyzing multiple fluxes, the amount of carbon exchanged between Earth’s carbon pools of the oceans, atmosphere, land, and living things, the researchers discovered that the amount of carbon soil respiration coming out of the soil is about 95 petagrams. The gross primary productivity should be around 147. For scale, the difference between the currently accepted amount of 120 petagrams and this is estimate is about three times the global fossil fuel emissions each year.

According to the researchers, there are two possibilities for this. The first is that the remote sensing approach may be underestimating gross primary production. The other is the upscaling of soil respiration measurements, which could be overestimating the amount of carbon returned to the atmosphere. Whether this misestimate is a positive or negative thing for the scientifically proven challenge of climate change is what needs to be examined next, Steele said.

The next step for the research is to determine which part of the global carbon cycling model is being under or overestimated.

By having accurate accounting of the carbon and where it is in the ecosystem, better predictions and models will be possible to accurately judge these ecosystems’ response to climate change, said Jian, who began this research as a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech and is now at Northwest A&F University in China.

“If we think back to how the world was when we were young, the climate has changed,” Jian said. “We have more extreme weather events. This study should improve the models we used for carbon cycling and provide better predictions of what the climate will look like in the future.”

As Steele’s first Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech, a portion of Steele’s startup fund went to support Jian’s graduate research. Jian, fascinated with data science, databases, and soil respiration, was working on another part of his dissertation when he stumbled across something that didn’t quite add up.

Jian was researching how to take small, localized carbon measurements from across the globe. While researching this, Jian discovered that the best estimates didn’t match up if all the fluxes of global carbon accounting were put together.

The research was funded by Steele’s startup fund from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech and further supported by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


JOURNAL

Nature Communications

DOI

10.1038/s41467-022-29391-5 

SUBJECT OF RESEARCH

Not applicable

ARTICLE TITLE

Historically inconsistent productivity and respiration fluxes in the global terrestrial carbon cycle

ARTICLE PUBLICATION DATE

1-Apr-2022

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Steve Case
April 2, 2022 6:06 am

 …it is unclear at this juncture if the mismatch will result in more or less carbon dioxide being accounted for…
______________________________________________________________

Kinda says it all.

Scissor
Reply to  Steve Case
April 2, 2022 6:24 am

Since our knowledge generally increases with time, it should be more. Nevertheless, we know that the “well-established climate change science” should be challenged as should all narratives that fail to account for such basic questions and answers.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 10:03 am

It is not only “well-established”, it is “the scientifically proven challenge of climate change”.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Steve Case
April 2, 2022 10:43 am

“If we think back to how the world was when we were young, the climate has changed,” Jian said. “We have more extreme weather events…”

That did it for me. I can’t write it off as ‘he just threw it in to justify his funding.’ It would make him look to stupid. Of course if he actually believes it, it also makes him look stupid.

ihfan
Reply to  Joe Crawford
April 2, 2022 2:22 pm

“If we think back to how the world was when we were young…”

… then we would probably be forgetting exactly how it really was, and would be making incorrect comparisons as a result.

Gerry, England
Reply to  ihfan
April 3, 2022 2:58 am

I guess that is why we keep records so we can look back to the days of our youth, and of our ancestors, and find that no, it has all happened before and it is not ‘unprecedented’.

Doug S
April 2, 2022 6:18 am

I thought the science was settled?

Scissor
Reply to  Doug S
April 2, 2022 6:26 am

It would not be if subjected to enhanced interrogation.

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  Doug S
April 2, 2022 7:49 am

Greta cold help. She sees carbon dioxide.

Richard Page
Reply to  Curious George
April 2, 2022 9:13 am

Greta can’t help, she’s busy writing a book to wring every penny she can from disinformation.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Doug S
April 2, 2022 10:26 am

It was. Until oil became VERY expensive and with no alternative…

TonyL
April 2, 2022 6:19 am

The models are wrong.
I am shocked.

Jian, fascinated with data science, databases, and soil respiration
Good on him. Data science, databases, and no doubt, whole databases full of climate data.
No wonder he was able to show the models to be wrong, and did it as a distraction to his real work.

Scissor
Reply to  TonyL
April 2, 2022 6:41 am

I’m concerned that as a twenty some odd year old, he holds the view, ““If we think back to how the world was when we were young, the climate has changed,” Jian said. “We have more extreme weather events.”

That unscientific view is not well supported.

Scissor
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 6:57 am

He might be older than I guessed. If interested, his Ph.D. thesis is available here:

https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/92195/Jian_J_D_2018.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

RichDo
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 7:30 am

I thought the same thing and I think you’re correct at <30. Here’s a pic of the young man.
https://www.pnnl.gov/people/jinshi-jian

toorightmate
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 7:40 am

I took the trouble and time (!!!!!!) to read this paper.
How much imagination can be applied to a 10X10 metre square of park near a city to come up with extremely dubious conclusions? The academic world has become stark-raving mad and stupid.

Scissor
Reply to  toorightmate
April 2, 2022 7:57 am

In order to describe the elephant, he conducted a detailed analysis of a hair from its tail and a few others that people told him about.

n.n
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 9:13 am

This is neither novel nor unprecedented. We have inferred whole animals and species from a single fossilized tooth.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  n.n
April 2, 2022 3:45 pm

No we have made a wild ass*d guess at whole animals and species … and we where WRONG … it’s not science …

Steve Case
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 7:47 am

 ““If we think back to how the world was when we were young, the climate has changed,” Jian said. “We have more extreme weather events.”
________________________________________________________

He gets his information from ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, NPR, New York Times, National Geographic, Scientific American Skeptical Science etc.

Scissor
Reply to  Steve Case
April 2, 2022 7:55 am

And the People’s Daily, etc.

Lrp
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 12:05 pm

Chinese CO2 has different effects

Rich Davis
Reply to  Lrp
April 3, 2022 4:31 am

CO2ism with Chinese characteristics

Rich Davis
Reply to  Steve Case
April 2, 2022 3:19 pm

I don’t see it. I go back to the start of the 60s. The weather seems about the same to me as it ever was with only the minor observation that maybe there’s a slight increase in intense rainfall events—maybe. Certainly data shows fewer hurricane landfalls and tornados. What are these “extremes”? Extremely nice weather?

meiggs
Reply to  Steve Case
April 3, 2022 4:02 am

hao ’bout TWC?

Brad-DXT
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 9:49 am

“That unscientific view is not well supported.”
That view can be categorially disputed with a quick search.
As a quick example that took whole seconds to find:
comment image

comment image

auto
Reply to  Brad-DXT
April 2, 2022 12:08 pm

Ahhh – maybe Scissor employed litotes.

Auto.

Scissor
Reply to  auto
April 2, 2022 1:05 pm

I’m not at all confused.

Brad-DXT
Reply to  auto
April 2, 2022 9:57 pm

I was agreeing with Scissor although I don’t think he went far enough to dispute the findings of the Virginia Tech researchers so I added some graphs to emphasize my point.

Tom
April 2, 2022 6:22 am

It seems logical that the annual cyclic nature in measured atmospheric CO2 might be related to the imbalance in land mass and ocean cover in the northern vs southern hemispheres. The land to ocean ratios get significantly different summer sun for photosynthesis. The carbon cycle calculations would, at least, have to get this right. Do they?

Scissor
Reply to  Tom
April 2, 2022 6:31 am

It’s not very well understood. Your hypothesis is likely true but life just responds to prevailing conditions in which it finds itself, with the major driver being sunshine.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom
April 2, 2022 3:28 pm

We have a very accurate estimate of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere at any given time and a very accurate estimate of our fossil fuel emissions. The fact that these researchers can’t account for the details of the net natural flux of carbon (CO2, CH3, etc.) doesn’t really say anything except that they have a terrible methodology.

Barbara. Bernstein
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 2, 2022 5:25 pm

tehee – very accurate estimate of our fossil fuel emissions

prove it

April 2, 2022 6:32 am

Before some skeptics start to say that the amount of human emissions is trivial and doesn’t cause the CO2 increase, this research doesn’t influence the net result: total natural sinks still are larger than total natural sources and nature still removes about half human emissions in quantity (not the original human emitted CO2 molecules…).

The gross primary productivity should be around 147. For scale, the difference between the currently accepted amount of 120 petagrams and this is estimate is about three times the global fossil fuel emissions each year.”

Which is only of academic interest: the earth is greening, thus still absorbing more CO2 than exhaling it directly via leaves at night, soils or via bacteria, molds, insects and animals, including human food.

That is clearly measured in the oxygen balance: plants produce oxygen when removing CO2 by photosynthesis and plant decay uses oxygen. By looking at the difference between O2 levels caused by burning fossil fuels and the real O2 decline, one knows the oxygen balance: except in strong El Niño years, the biosphere as a whole produces more O2 than it uses, thus more CO2 uptake than release…

https://tildesites.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
See last page, figure 7.

There is some update for recent years, but haven’t found it yet…

bolingraph.gif
Scissor
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 8:14 am

Is there something in the biome that produces CO2 from carbonates?

Certainly, animals have the capability to produce HCl in parietal cells. I wonder if there is any organism(s) that uses mineral carbonate biologically that could be a source for CO2.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 8:46 am

The primary source of CO2 from carbonate minerals is rain, with a pH of about 5.3. However, the roots of plants and lichen are able to decompose carbonate minerals, and even silicates at a slower rate.

To answer your question more directly, possibly land snails because they build their shells from what they ingest, rather than gathering it from the surrounding water, as with aquatic snails. But then the shells temporarily sequester the carbonate until the shells are dissolved by rain, after the death of the organism.

J N
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 2, 2022 8:59 am

CO2 is released from carbonates by acid reactions with solutions formed by nearby plant roots and also by weathering, by slightly acidic solutions from rain and surface and subsurface runoff. This depends on temperature, local natural aerosol composition, etc.
PS: Clyde beat me while I was writing. He is correct by the way.

Last edited 1 month ago by J N
Scissor
Reply to  J N
April 2, 2022 9:36 am

What I’ve read so far about land snails focuses on calcium channels, most from food but some from carbonate minerals. This is an example.
https://www.carnegiemnh.org/science/mollusks/forestcalcium.html

That answered my question about whether there was any biome sources CO2 produced from carbonate minerals.

Scissor
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 2, 2022 9:17 am

Thanks.

I’m specifically wondering about biological production of CO2 from mineral carbonates. I didn’t consider land snails. That gives me something to research.

guidoLaMoto
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 10:35 pm

Calcium is an important biological cation involved in many different processes such as muscle & nerve function and important in the structure of bone and chitin (athropod shells). Plants can absorb it from the soil, often in the form of calcium carbonate. That anion returns the C to the cycle.

BTW- What kind if “scientist” measures gases by weight instead of moles?

J N
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 8:32 am

Too much simplistic. Things in nature are a lot more complex than that simplistic view. Biosphere net fluxes are still largely unknown and unmeasured. The most complex doubts rely on microorganisms which gases balance and total importance in gases cycles are very difficult to measure. Net flux of most O2 in biosphere, for instance, contrary to the large belief, still rely on the same culprits from 2600 million tears ago – Cyanobacteria and Algae, that usually increase O2 production with more heat. Taking conclusions about CO2 from O2 as you pose it is, simply, “uncharted territory”.

Last edited 1 month ago by J N
Scissor
Reply to  J N
April 2, 2022 9:21 am

Over the long term, atmospheric O2 concentration has been falling for nearly 100 million years.

Somehow, old white men are to blame.

Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 12:21 pm

Scissor,

A 5% drop in O2 or 50,000 ppmv in 80 million years is 0.0006 ppmv/year

The recent drop is 3.2 ppmv/year… Indeed humans are to blame (nowadays mostly young Chinese men…).

Scissor
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 1:20 pm

I didn’t realize it was dropping that fast of late. It could be a problem in a few thousand years, except that fossil fuels would run out before then.

Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 3:27 pm

As long as it is in the ppmv range, with 210,000 ppmv, no problem at all and the resulting CO2 is good for plant growth…

PCman999
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 3:32 pm

About as fast as CO2 is growing.

Reply to  J N
April 2, 2022 12:10 pm

J N, sometimes the most simplistic way is the right one.
One doesn’t need to know any balance of any individual cycle, if the overall balance is known in another way,

In the case of the oxygen balance or the carbon balance, geological history indeed shows large changes, but that is over millions of year. Here we measure changes of 120 ppmv CO2 over only 170 years and equivalent changes in O2 in ratio to CO2 in the past decades.
In comparison: the 100 ppmv CO2 change between an ice age and an interglacial in the past 800,000 years occurred over a period of 5,000 years or 0.02 ppmv/year…

In the case of O2, the balance is more production than uptake, thus the biosphere as a whole is a net sink for CO2. Roughly 1/4 of human emissions, confirmed by the increase in chlorophyll mass as measured by satellites.

No matter what the absolute height of the different biological cycles is or was…

J N
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 1:31 pm

In the case of the oxygen balance or the carbon balance, geological history indeed shows large changes, but that is over millions of year. Here we measure changes of 120 ppmv CO2 over only 170 years and equivalent changes in O2 in ratio to CO2 in the past decades.

In comparison: the 100 ppmv CO2 change between an ice age and an interglacial in the past 800,000 years occurred over a period of 5,000 years or 0.02 ppmv/year…

You are aware that the comparison that you make cannot be made that way right? What you see from the past are proxy data, where CO2 variation is highly averaged. You cannot catch the possible noise from each 170 years periods from any CO2 geological proxy. Then you compare this data with highly noisy data collected nowadays (more than daily based)??? Most proxy gives you less than a point per century or even millennia (for older data). If you, in the future, would have to put a point from the last 400 years, for instance, what value that would be? Not even ice captures that amount of data because of compression and diffusion processes. This problem gets worst with depth. Once more, when you pick any geologic time period and divide the amount of CO2 by the time to obtain a tax of variation, that is an oversimplification and you will never capture the possible noisy data from any given time period in the past. This is a common error made by most people: Compare highly noisy instrumental measured data from the last 100 years with highly averaged geological records from proxy data.

Roughly 1/4 of human emissions, confirmed by the increase in chlorophyll mass as measured by satellites.

How can you know that??? Only isotopic C can give us an estimate of human emissions. Even so, there are problems because there are inorganic sources of isotopic depleted CO2 that contaminate this estimation. Increase in chlorophyll does not tell you absolutely nothing, only that overall CO2 is indeed increasing.

Last edited 1 month ago by J N
Reply to  J N
April 2, 2022 3:43 pm

J N,

The current increase of about 120 ppmv over 170 years would be visible as an extra anomaly of about 30 ppmv even in the Vostok ice core with a resolution of around 600 years.

Ice core resolution depends of the local snow accumulation rate and gets from less than 10 years over the past 150 years (when rock bottom was reached) for two of the Law Dome ice cores up to 560 years for the 800,000 years of Dome C and everything in between.

There is a rather constant ratio of about 8 ppmv/K in all ice cores, no matter the resolution, but the current increase is simply followed by all high resolution ice cores, for Law Dome even with an overlap of about 20 years with direct measurements at the South Pole…

law_dome_sp_co2.jpg
Reply to  J N
April 2, 2022 3:54 pm

About isotopes, as far as I know, there are only two sources of low-13C in nature: recent organics and fossil organics.

All inorganic sources are higher in δ13C than in the current atmosphere. That are the ocean waters (even including the fractionation between water and air and back), rock weathering, volcanic vents,…

Recent organics are more sink than source for CO2 and preferentially for 12CO2, thus increasing the δ13C level in the atmosphere.
Thus all δ13C decline is from the human use of fossil fuels.

The change in δ13C between glacial and interglacial periods is less than 0.5 per mil δ13C, over the whole Holocene within -6.4 +/- 0.2 per mil δ13C, but since about 1850 the drop is over 1.8 per mil and we are now at -8.2 per mil δ13C in the atmosphere and the ocean surface follows the atmosphere…

sponges.gif
Jim Ross
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 4, 2022 1:56 am

According to NOAA, the δ13C flux from oceans to air is -9.5 per mil, which is actually less than the atmosphere value of -8 per mil (at the time the data were provided by NOAA). Source: https://gml.noaa.gov/outreach/isotopes/c13tellsus.html
 
Thus NOAA disagrees with your first and second paragraphs. In addition, NOAA states that the flux from fossil fuels is -28 per mil and from the terrestrial biosphere is -26 per mil. The fossil fuel figure is particularly interesting, because the actual change in atmospheric 13C/12C ratio over time reflects an average net value for the incremental CO2 of -13 per mil, as clearly demonstrated by 13C mass balance principles despite your view that this is a “coincidence”.
 
Even the plot you show is based on this value of -13 per mil (you need to compare the far left and right-hand scales to prove this – happy to demonstrate if required!).

Reply to  Jim Ross
April 4, 2022 10:49 am

Jim,

The exchange between the oceans and the atmosphere is a two-way cycle: about -10 per mil from oceans to air and again -2 per mil from air to oceans. Overall -8 per mil change when the in/out fluxes are in equilibrium:
https://scope.dge.carnegiescience.edu/SCOPE_16/SCOPE_16_1.5.05_Siegenthaler_249-257.pdf

The deep oceans waters are around zero per mil, but the surface waters are between +1 and +5 per mil, depending of the amount of bio-life and the drop out of low-13C organics from the surface into the deep oceans.

That gives that the average pre-industrial air was at -6.4 +/- 0.2 per mil over the Holocene, as measured in ice cores.
Even the huge change of 100 ppmv CO2 over a glacial-interglacial transition didn’t show more that 0.4 per mil change.

In the past 170 years, the drop is 1.8 per mil…
Maybe humans are to blame?

One can use the drop in δ13C to estimate the CO2 exchange between (deep) oceans and atmosphere, if we may base that cycle on the -6.4 per mil oceanic CO2 flux: about 40 PgC/year:

deep_ocean_air_zero.jpg
J N
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 1:56 pm

Just to add even more confusion, people tend to forget the photochemical and non-photochemical phases of photosynthesis. We can be accounting plant release of CO2 by a huge default (yes!! plants also make cell respiration, catabolic reactions and also release CO2!!!) This makes your human CO2 estimation even more dubious. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-18/plant-respiration-co2-findings-anu-canberra/9163858

Rich Davis
Reply to  J N
April 2, 2022 3:51 pm

Human fossil fuel emissions are not calculated or estimated from knowing every detail of the myriad natural fluxes. They are based on fossil fuel production records, largely for tax-collecting purposes. Do you suppose that fossil fuel production is being overestimated in order to pay higher taxes?

Reply to  J N
April 2, 2022 4:09 pm

J N,

The point I try to make is that you don’t need to know any CO2 cycle at all to any accuracy. All you need to know is how much fossil fuels are burned and for each fuel how much CO2 that gives.
That is quite accurately known (+/- 0.25 ppmv/year), thanks to the government’s taxes. Maybe somewhat underestimated due to human nature to avoid taxes, but certainly not overestimated…
And we know quite accurately the increase in the atmosphere (+/- 0.2 ppmv/year).

The difference between these two values is the net contribution from all natural ins and outs. No matter how big these are, no matter how they changed over a year or years, no matter if some net inflow reversed to a net outflow… No matter that plants respire more than previously estimated…
That has not the slightest interest: we know the net result of all natural CO2 fluxes together to better than 0.5 ppmv/year. That is all we need to know.

The net result is that nature over the past 60+ years is more sink than source for CO2, with a few El Niño years at the border of equality.

dco2_em2.jpg
Paul Milenkovic
Reply to  J N
April 2, 2022 12:38 pm

I agree, the carbon cycle may be more complicated than some are letting on.

But the atmosphere is a unique reservoir in which, it is regarded, that the CO2 is well mixed over short period of time, so CO2 in the atmosphere (or the O2 for that matters) has no place to hide.

That said, if there is a larger-than-expected emission of CO2 from soils owing to “respiration”, the bacterial and fungal breakdown of reduced carbon into CO2, there has to be a countervailing uptake of CO2, and in the absence of another hypothesis, let’s say it is from “greening”, that is, increased plant photosynthesis.

The O2 balance argument claims that of the net sink of human-caused CO2 emission into the atmosphere, half of that sink has to be into an inorganic system (the ocean dissolved carbonate system), and half of that sink has to be into an organic system, plant photosynthesis. One does not counter the O2 depletion from burning hydrocarbon fuel whereas the other one does counter O2 depletion.

If there is an added CO2 emission from a heretofore not accounted-for respiration process that consumes oxygen, as described in the article, this has to be balanced by increase photosynthesis (“greening”) absorbing that CO2 and in turn releasing an equal amount of oxygen. This has to be for the net CO2 increase observed in the atmosphere to “tie up.” This process would be invisible to the O2 balance measurement, in reply to Ferdinand.

PCman999
Reply to  Paul Milenkovic
April 2, 2022 6:59 pm

“there has to be a countervailing uptake of CO2” – no, it doesn’t have to balance – that’s why CO2 in the air and seas varies and has varied for at least half a billion years.

Paul Milenkovic
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 12:22 pm

Give it a rest.

There is a huge span between “human activity accounts for all of the increase in atmospheric CO2” and “human activity accounts for none of the increase in CO2.”

How about “natural sinks remove 3/4 of the CO2 released by human activity and temperature-stimulated emission from soil discussed in the article accounts for half of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere”?

This would be consistent with all the observations you mention, including this O2 balance resulting from an even split of CO2 sinks between inorganics in the ocean and plant photosynthesis.

Your friend Pieter Tans salvages the human-caused-CO2-emissions-not-going-to-sinks-accounts-for-all-the-increased-atmospheric-CO2 increase by claiming that the temperature-correlated year-to-year fluctuation in atmospheric CO2 is all from the shallow carbon reservoir in tropical forest leaf litter.

This article puts that view, your shared view, out of kilter by saying the emissions from soils are much larger than expected.

I don’t claim that I fully understand the carbon cycle either. But there is enough uncertainty in this “blind deconvolution problem” of accounting where all the increased atmospheric CO2 is coming from to allow for significantly different fractions being human caused. And a wide range of values for the persistence of added CO2 into the atmosphere. To claim with certainty the human-caused fraction is scientific arrogance.

J N
Reply to  Paul Milenkovic
April 2, 2022 1:49 pm

Precisely!

Reply to  Paul Milenkovic
April 2, 2022 4:26 pm

Paul,

It doesn’t matter how large the natural carbon cycles are.

All what matters is the mass balance: we add twice the amount of CO2 to the atmosphere than is measured as increase, thus all increase is from our CO2…
It really is that simple.

It is not about where specific human caused CO2 molecules get: even if all human CO2 was catched by the next available trees, that is at the cost of a natural CO2 molecule that would have been catched instead. The net result is the same increase in the atmosphere.

Even if the biological cycle doubled from one year to the next: as long as that doesn’t change the difference between uptake and release, that doesn’t change the net balance. And we know that difference from the oxygen balance and in general for all natural fluxes together from the mass balance.

Paul Milenkovic
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 5:15 pm

It is far from that simple.

Were the natural processes exchanging CO2 known to be in homeostatic balance, any observed increase in CO2 would have to be the leftover of human-caused emission after a portion went into the sinks.

You dismiss the possibility of natural variation in atmospheric CO2, let alone the year-to-year fluctuation in atmospheric CO2 as representing a trend.

The go-to Carbon Cycler person Pieter Tans at NOAA is very much aware of the year-to-year fluctuation in CO2, and you have quoted him as an authority that the year-to-year fluctuation is driven by a shallow carbon reservoir in the tropical rainforest leaf litter. The claim of temperature-stimulated emission of CO2 being confined to the tropical rainforests with otherwise shallow soils is what rescues the claim that the preponderance of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is to be attributed to human activity.

The article being discussed goes against that claim.

So indeed, it doesn’t matter how large the natural carbon cycles are in relation to the human-caused emissions, but it matters very much as to whether the natural carbon cycles are balanced in the absence of the human-caused emissions.

Reply to  Paul Milenkovic
April 3, 2022 12:25 pm

Paul, we do measure the natural carbon balance: that is more sink than source in the past 60+ years.

The net result of natural variability in the past 60+ years was +/- 1.5 ppmv around the 100+ ppmv trend for the most extreme events (Pinatubo, El Niño):
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/wft_trends_rss_1985-2000.jpg

Thus at least over that past 60+ years, natural variability in sink capacity is less than what humans emitted.
The trend in the natural cycles is that of an increasing net sink, both in the biosphere and the oceans.

If we should stop all emissions today, the CO2 level would drop with about 2.5 ppmv in the first year, as that is caused by the CO2 pressure difference between the current level in the atmosphere and the equilibrium level, which is around 295 ppmv for the current average ocean surface temperature. The e-fold reduction speed is about 50 years or a half life time of around 35 year.

That it is the (tropical) biosphere which is the main reactant on fast changing temperatures (Pinatubo, El Niño) can be verified in the parallel changes of δ13C and CO2 after temperature changes if caused by the oceans, or the opposite changes of δ13C and CO2 if vegetation was the dominant response. Look for yourself:

temp_dco2_d13C_mlo.jpg
Jim Ross
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 4, 2022 2:04 am

Look carefully, however. The rate of change of CO2 is at all times positive. It is always increasing, albeit sometimes faster (El Niño) and sometimes slower (La Niña and Pinatubo). On the other hand, the rate of change of δ13C is mostly negative, but at times is positive. On such occasions, your argument collapses; if both δ13C and CO2 are simultaneously showing positive growth rates, this is inconsistent with the view that the incremental CO2 is always from the terrestrial biosphere with a δ13C much lower than the atmosphere.
 
In fact, the observations are consistent with a lower δ13C than the known average of -13 per mil for incremental CO2 during El Niño events and a higher than average (equal to or higher than the atmospheric value of -8.5 per mil) during La Niña events and Pinatubo.

Reply to  Jim Ross
April 4, 2022 10:16 am

Jim, it doesn’t matter: the rate of change of CO2 indeed was positive in all past 60+ years of accurate measurements at Mauna Loa, always lower than human emissions, with a few borderline increases, near equal at huge El Niño times.

The δ13C follows a declining trend, which is consistent with human emissions, but more variable, depending of the growth and wane of vegetation. During an El Niño, there is lot of release from the tropical forests, which gives a firm decrease in δ13C (mostly from the drying out of the Amazon and other tropical forests), while during a La Niña, the tropical forests restart their growth, but then have to compete with the oceans for the δ13C level.
The δ13C sum of the ocean and biosphere CO2 cycles plus human CO2 emissions with about as low δ13C as vegetation, may be net zero even slightly positive during a few years, but in average about 1/3 of all human emissions per year still remain in the atmosphere, as the δ13C change shows. The other 2/3 is exchanged mostly with CO2 from the deep oceans, where it may equilibrate over thousands of years…

Jim Ross
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 4, 2022 12:10 pm

It would appear that you might almost be agreeing with me that El Niño events are associated with CO2 with a lower δ13C than average being added to the atmosphere, while La Niña events (and Pinatubo) are associated with CO2 with a higher δ13C than average being added to the atmosphere. Is this correct?

The reason that this is important is two fold: firstly, there is still no model that is able to match observed annual changes in atmospheric δ13C (see, for example, van der Velde et al, 2013, and Keeling et al, 2017); and second, the models (based on the Global Carbon Budget and its for-runner) ‘show’ that around 25% of emissions are removed into the oceans without significant variation due to ENSO, while the difference between El Niño and La Niña is essentially all due to variations in the removal of CO2 by the terrestrial biosphere. If so, this would have almost no effect on the δ13C of the incremental CO2, because the change, in terms of atmospheric CO2 growth, would be simply different proportions of low δ13C of fossil fuels (-28 per mil) being removed by vegetation (-26 per mil) and hence having virtually no effect on the CO2 13C/12C ratio.

I assume that you are completely familiar with the two references given above, but for others (if any):

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/gbc.20048
https://www.pnas.org/doi/pdf/10.1073/pnas.1619240114

Thomas Gasloli
April 2, 2022 6:35 am

The problem here has to do with taking measurements of necessarily small areas of soil or small collections of plants over small time periods and then upscaling it. Miniscule error & uncertainties will blow up into huge miscalculations. You just can’t do what they are trying to do.

H.R.
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
April 2, 2022 8:19 am

And you’d need to demonstrate that the findings from a 10 x 10 plot apply everywhere.

This looks like a setup for a full career studying 10 x 10 plots all over the World.

Smart kid. He’s setting himself up to ride the gravy train to the end of the line.

J N
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
April 2, 2022 8:34 am

Exactly. Too much simplification in these kind of studies.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
April 2, 2022 8:37 am

CliSciFi in a nutshell.

Peta of Newark
April 2, 2022 6:36 am

Wow.
At this rate they may stumble upon Soil Erosion but by then, it will be too late. We’ll all have decamped to The New Planet Mars.
and without actually going anywhere – isn’t that just a dream come true

How many folks are familiar with the word/term ‘exudates
Nutshell:”In a growing plant, somewhere between 20 and 40% of all the sugar it makes via photosynthesis is taken down to the roots and ‘exuded’

  • What’s going on there?
  • Why is there such a range?
Scissor
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 2, 2022 9:40 am

Trees and fungi enjoy a symbiotic relationship.

April 2, 2022 6:37 am

“We have more extreme weather events…”

The koolaid Jian has been drinking since birth has metastasized into a belief system unhinged from reality. But at least when the sea fails to inundate the world he might catch another clue and begin to understand the hubris of controlling chaos…

Kevin kilty
April 2, 2022 6:41 am

How many times in an article do they have to say something like this?

 scientifically proven challenge of climate change

Who are they trying to fool or impress or kowtow to?

Even if climate were to change in the way they keep saying, isn’t the “challenge” here in the eye of the beholder — i.e. not proven at all?

ihfan
Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 2, 2022 2:35 pm

It appears that with this research the authors are attempting to say that while they found big differences in assumptions about the carbon cycle, it doesn’t matter in the end.

Which begs the question: If you decide to study some effect knowing that it won’t matter what you learn, then why bother?

Rich Davis
Reply to  ihfan
April 2, 2022 4:08 pm

It raises the question. To beg the question is to assume the premise as part of your argument.

Yes I know I am tilting at windmills.

ihfan
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 2, 2022 9:44 pm

I beg your pardon… : )

PCman999
Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 2, 2022 7:03 pm

They have to put in that statement of faith to make sure they don’t get labeled as skeptical and get themselves cancelled.

Bob Weber(@coolclimateinfo)
April 2, 2022 6:57 am

The next step for the research is to determine which part of the global carbon cycling model is being under or overestimated.

The ocean model is wrong for starters, the ocean wasn’t static since the 1800s. The ocean area above 25C in addition to getting warmer, grew by ~50% since it’s lowest point. This changed the distribution of CO2 outgassing/sinking in favor of more outgassing and less sinking, helping lead to the rise in atmospheric CO2.

comment image

comment image

Reply to  Bob Weber
April 2, 2022 8:02 am

Bob, we have been there before, but even if the total oceans increased above 25C that doesn’t imply that there is more outgassing.
Uptake or outgassing depends of the seawater temperature (and biolife) at one side and the CO2 partial pressure in the atmosphere on the other side, which is average higher than in the ocean surface with about 7 μatm which leads to about 2.2 PgC/year more uptake that release by the ocean surface layer (1995).
https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/mean.shtml
Since then the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere only increased more rapidly than in the oceans, thus even more uptake per year.

The uptake is measured in several stations that measure DIC (CO2 + (bi)carbonates) in the ocean waters, see:
https://tos.org/oceanography/assets/docs/27-1_bates.pdf
Fig. 3, Table 2.

Derg
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 9:46 am

CO2 is life.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Derg
April 3, 2022 4:17 am

I’m sure that Ferdinand would agree as do I.

It would be convenient if it could be demonstrated that the increase in atmospheric CO2 were due to natural sources. That would be a shortcut to winning the argument that we should not abandon the use of fossil fuels. The only problem with that approach is that it is not true.

So if we want our skeptical, countercultural view to be taken seriously, we must acknowledge what is true if inconvenient, and then explain that empirical evidence is inconsistent with alarmist views on the effect of increasing atmospheric CO2. Empirical evidence allows us to infer that global average temperatures will increase logarithmically at a very modest rate of 1.7 kelvins per doubling of CO2 concentration.

More empirical evidence, global agricultural output, shows us that this is “all good”!

Derg
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 3, 2022 4:35 am

Yep we need more CO2.

Reply to  Derg
April 4, 2022 10:26 am

Derg, I agree!

But you can’t win with arguments that are not true.

All available observations point to humans as cause of the increase. Nothing refutes that.

That is the only point where climate science is on firm grounds. Skeptics are shooting in their own foot by looking at arguments that “may” prove that humans are not to blame for the increase, as that simply is not provable: that violates at least the carbon mass balance and several other observations…

So, let us focus on these points where climate science is on shaking grounds: the lack of performance of climate models, the exaggerations of future weather disasters and sea level rise, etc…

Bob Weber(@coolclimateinfo)
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 10:07 am

Uptake or outgassing depends of the seawater temperature (and biolife) at one side and the CO2 partial pressure in the atmosphere on the other side

Let me show you something that should make any reasonable person rethink your position. Read the following to see the equatorial OHC/SST is driving the CO2 anomaly, and is more important relative to the atmospheric CO2 partial pressure.

NASA claims they can see human emissions reductions from the pandemic.

“The team’s results showed that growth in CO2 concentrations dropped in the Northern Hemisphere from February through May 2020 (corresponding to a global emissions decrease of 3% and 13%), which agreed with computer simulations of how activity restrictions and natural influences should affect the atmosphere.”

NASA is wrong. The 2020 drop in weekly ML CO2 anomalies (first two plots) was hardly worse than the previous large drop in 2019 (2nd plot, thick black arrows).

The periods A,B, & D in the second plot similarly start and end with a positive anomaly that brackets a negative anomaly, just like period C.

If these other big variations such as in periods A, B, and D can happen as they did naturally without pandemic emissions reductions, then NASA’s conclusion was wrong for period C. No, the reduction in question also was not from the pandemic; it was driven by a La Niña colder tropical SST via Henry’s Law, ie more CO2 sinking, less CO2 outgassing.

comment image

comment image

Reply to  Bob Weber
April 2, 2022 12:37 pm

Bob, I do completely agree with you that sea surface temperatures drive the variability in CO2 uptake by the oceans and vegetation (the Amazon and other tropical forests even more dominant as they dry out by changing rain patterns).

That doesn’t give you any clue to what is the overall balance between outgassing and uptake. That balance is known and that shows more uptake than release of CO2 over the past 60+ years, including strong El Niño periods.
Only less uptake during warmer years but still net uptake, even if there was more release: the uptake still was larger.
Just a matter of increasing partial pressure (pCO2) in the atmosphere, higher than the equilibrium pressure according to Henry’s law…

Here shown in the derivatives (including the small theoretical drop due to Covid):

dco2_em8.jpg
commieBob
Reply to  Bob Weber
April 2, 2022 12:22 pm

Indeed. Remember that most of the oceans’ CO2 is at depths and temperatures where it is stored as liquid. People can do arithmetic based on a poorly understood CO2 budget all they want but it doesn’t change the fact that the oceans determine how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, note vice versa.

Reply to  commieBob
April 2, 2022 1:25 pm

commieBob, that was the case in the past, not what is happening today.

According to Henry’s Law, the current equilibrium CO2 level in the atmosphere should be around 295 ppmv for the current average ocean surface temperature, not 415 ppmv.
That difference causes a net CO2 uptake by the oceans.

The ocean surface temperature is what gives the equilibrium CO2 level, good for us that it isn’t the temperature of the deep oceans, or we would be wiped out with only 150 ppmv CO2 in the atmosphere and no (C3 cycle) plants left…

Bob Weber(@coolclimateinfo)
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 3, 2022 9:56 am

According to Henry’s Law, the current equilibrium CO2 level in the atmosphere should be around 295 ppmv for the current average ocean surface temperature

Ferdinand you like to put numbers to what Henry’s Law does (since 2007!) wrt CO2, without showing that you understand it very well analytically. Like O2, CO2 is either sourced or sinks in the ocean according to temperature:

comment image

The entire ice-free ocean conforms to the CO2 solubility curve:

comment image

You make statements with shaky numbers because you base your ideas upon the consensus carbon cycle figure numbers for the ocean’s uptake and outgassing instead of first incorporating the very real physical phenomenon of CO2 solubility according to ocean temperature, and the big changes in both temperature and areas of the ocean’s CO2 outgassing vs sinking areas.

The trend in ML CO2 is accounted for by the area and temperature increase of the ocean above 25.6°C:

comment image

Reply to  Bob Weber
April 3, 2022 10:50 am

Bob, a few points:

Henry’s law is about equilibrium between a gas in the atmosphere and in a liquid. That includes:

  • You can’t say that the oceans show outgassing above exact 25.6°C. That doesn’t depend of the water temperature only but of the difference in partial pressure (pCO2) between the ocean surface and the atmosphere
  • If the pCO2 in the atmosphere is higher than in the ocean surface, then the surface will absorb CO2 and reverse.
  • The pCO2 of the oceans is measured at a lot of places and varies between 150 μatm in polar sinking waters, up to 750 μatm in equatorial upwelling waters. The atmosphere is currently at around 415 μatm (~ppmv). Thus everywhere the pCO2 in the ocean surface is below that value, the oceans absorb extra CO2 and only where the pCO2 is above that value, the oceans will release CO2:
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 3, 2022 11:41 am

More, as the previous reaction was posted too soon…

Bob, a few points:

Henry’s law is about equilibrium between a gas in the atmosphere and in a liquid. That makes that:

  • The atmosphere is currently at around 415 μatm (~ppmv), thus everywhere the pCO2 of the ocean surface is below that value, the oceans absorb extra CO2 and only where the pCO2 is above that value, the oceans will release CO2: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/exchange.shtml
  • As the pCO2 in the atmosphere increased with over 100 μatm since Mauna Loa times (no matter the reason), the area of absorption must have expanded, as a larger area of the oceans will be at less than the 405 μatm compared to the 305 μatm of 60+ years ago.
  • The net increase of pCO2 by increasing temperature of ocean water is between 12 and 16 μatm/K for the current average seawater temperature around 15°C See: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/CO2/carbondioxide/text/LMG06_8_data_report.doc with as formula: (pCO2)sw @ Tin situ = (pCO2)sw @ Teq x EXP[0.0423 x (Tin-situ – Teq)] where the change in pCO2 is corrected for the change in temperature between the ship’s seawater inlet and the CO2 equilibrator. That formula is a general formula for the change in pCO2 for a change in seawater temperature.
  • Everywhere the ocean’s inorganic carbon content (DIC: CO2 + (bi)carbonates) is measured, DIC increases. Thus the net flux of CO2 is from the atmosphere into the oceans, not reverse. See: https://tos.org/oceanography/assets/docs/27-1_bates.pdf   
  • If the oceans were a net source and humans are a one-way source, then the increase in the atmosphere would be larger than what humans released. We see the opposite: the increase in the atmosphere is less than what humans emit, thus nature was a net sink for CO2 over the past 60+ years. The only alternative is that the biosphere absorbed the equivalent of all extra releases from the oceans plus half of human emissions, for which is not the slightest proof (e.g. the O2 balance).

Conclusion: the correlation of the temperature and CO2 trends is largely spurious, as the increase of seawater temperature since the LIA gives not more than maximum 13 ppmv CO2 increase in the atmosphere, based on the solubility of CO2 in seawater per Henry’s law.

yirgach
Reply to  commieBob
April 2, 2022 1:43 pm

A CO2 phase diagram helps to visualize the relationship:

comment image

By Ben FinneyMark Jacobs – Commons, Image:Carbon dioxide pressure-temperature phase diagram.jpg, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4315735

Last edited 1 month ago by yirgach
commieBob
Reply to  yirgach
April 2, 2022 4:30 pm

According to this vexatious paper, there is reason to doubt a lot of the work on CO2 solubility.

Reply to  yirgach
April 2, 2022 4:32 pm

I suppose that diagram is for 100% CO2, not for CO2 dissolved in water…

Maybe in water at some depth as clathrates (as is the case for CH4) but I haven’t heard of pure liquid CO2 in seawater…

yirgach
Reply to  yirgach
April 2, 2022 7:05 pm

CommieBob and FE

I’m pretty sure diagram is for 100% CO2. But the general relationship should hold although changing the medium from pure CO2 to air or water would certainly distort the pattern.
Needs more work. Send money.

commieBob
Reply to  yirgach
April 2, 2022 8:39 pm

Check out Figure 1 in the vexatious paper I linked above. There are a couple of things that make it different but not unrecognizable:

1 – CO2 solubility in water
2 – clathrates

PCman999
Reply to  Bob Weber
April 2, 2022 7:12 pm

The hotest region shown, basically Indonesia, has some of the best coral reefs and no mention of bleaching. About as much as 5°C hotter than where the Great Barrier Reef has supposed bleached – if one can trust subsurface observations made high above the reef in an airplane while ignoring what divers on site are saying.

Bob Weber(@coolclimateinfo)
Reply to  PCman999
April 3, 2022 1:22 pm

I wonder if the two places have reefs of the same average depth as coral bleaching is light depth and TSI sensitive too. The graphics below are from my sun-climate poster 2 yrs ago:

comment image

The Indonesian coral bleaching response is different than the mid-Pacific bleaching response under high TSI and/or El Nino conditions:

comment image

Coral reef base growth was vital to increasing DICs and atmospheric CO2:

comment image

Matt Kiro
April 2, 2022 6:57 am

I wonder if anyone involved in the study ever said aloud ” Wow, carbon dioxide sure is important to all life on the planet”

Steve Case
Reply to  Matt Kiro
April 2, 2022 7:53 am

Not if they wanted to continue their academic career.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Matt Kiro
April 2, 2022 10:17 am

CO2, you can’t live without it

David Dibbell
April 2, 2022 6:58 am

 “What we found is that the models of the ecosystem’s response to climate change need updating.”

OK. What also needs updating is the broadly accepted assumption that the slowly increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere MUST result in the accumulation of heat energy in the land and oceans, because of the static warming effect of GHGs experienced at the surface looking toward space. The atmosphere is not static.

I look forward to the day when graduate students will grasp the implications of the high-resolution images from the geostationary satellites – that it is unreasonable to expect the planet-totalized emission of longwave radiation to be inhibited by what non-condensing GHGs do.

This is one reason why I hold the view that ECS cannot be reliably distinguished from zero C. Therefore all the obsession with CO2 is misdirected. The motion and the range of emitter output is obvious in the animated images.

https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/fulldisk_band.php?sat=G16&band=16&length=48&dim=1

(FYI – in the images, the brightness temperature scale is applied for visualization. The radiance at 50C on the scale is about 13 times the radiance at -90C. This animation is for “CO2” band 16, centered at 13.3 microns.)

Scissor
Reply to  David Dibbell
April 2, 2022 11:12 am

That’s a beautiful, and one might say, moving picture.

David Dibbell
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 12:28 pm

Let’s hope the “climate” modelers will ultimately admit the simple beauty and power of these sensor-based visualizations in contrast to the stick-figure animated caricature of the land-ocean-atmosphere system from those large-grid, discrete-layer, step-iterated, parameter-tuned simulations. Not holding my breath though.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  David Dibbell
April 3, 2022 5:33 am

Funny how there is so much area radiating at very high temps. I suspect the lower temps have something to do with clouds and not CO2 concentration. Otherwise the assumption of “well mixed” is fraught with error.

David Dibbell
Reply to  Jim Gorman
April 3, 2022 6:25 am

Yes, band 16 is used, for example, “to estimate cloud-top heights.” https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/documents/ABIQuickGuide_Band16.pdf

The “brightness temperature” used for visualization is calculated directly from the radiance (i.e. the strength of radiated energy sensed at the satellite.) So the key point for me is that the planet is to be understood as a huge array of powered, highly variable emitter elements. The heat-engine motion of the atmosphere produces a self-regulating supply of energy to be emitted to space in this wavelength band (which is the same band from which the concern over CO2 greenhouse gas warming arises – in the region of overlap with partial absorption by water vapor.) Clouds are a powerful regulator, as the radiance is so much less above the cold cloud tops, especially above convective cells in the tropics.

The atmosphere is not a passive “trap” when all this motion is taken into account, which is driven in large part by the radiative coupling of the lower atmosphere to the surface. If it were a passive “trap” in concept, this band would give a blurry image as seen from space.

So I recently have been posting this link here in comments hoping that folks will see the GHG warming claims differently, and be better informed from the science-based and space-based sensing and imaging systems.

Joel
April 2, 2022 7:05 am

Should we not wait for another group to replicate these findings?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joel
April 2, 2022 8:58 am

Replication is great. However, they are not the first to question the generally accepted numbers. And, hardly anybody pays attention to the accepted uncertainty intervals for the claimed values. Almost everyone cites the nominal values as though they are known perfectly. I suspect that the true values for the components of the Carbon Cycle are outside the uncertainty envelopes cited (or implied by their significant figures).

fretslider
April 2, 2022 7:08 am

“Estimates of the carbon cycle – vital to predicting climate change – are incorrect

The findings do not counter the established science of climate change “

It’s one thing to try to account for carbon cycling, but to claim climate science is established – i.e. settled – is a bit rich.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  fretslider
April 2, 2022 9:00 am

It would seem the authors are trying to have it both ways. The two statements are contradictory.

Michael in Dublin
April 2, 2022 8:02 am

We were told the that planet is going to melt. Well this is not happening and no indication that it will happen. By a huge factor there is considerably more that we do not know and cannot correlate than what we know and draw reliable conclusions.

Richard M
April 2, 2022 8:04 am

Completely irrelevant to solar/ocean driven climate change. At current levels CO2 does not have much, if any effect on the temperature of the planet. Increases in CO2 provide a combined warming (pressure broadening) and cooling (upward energy transport) effect which likely balance out.

Bill Everett
Reply to  Richard M
April 2, 2022 8:29 am

Is there any significance to the fact that early mapping of CO2 by the CO2 measuring satellite showed the highest levels of atmospheric CO2 to be present at the locations of the most intense vegetation on Earth? Wouldn’t that indicate that vegetation produces more CO2 than it absorbs?

Richard M
Reply to  Bill Everett
April 2, 2022 9:31 am

Depends on the time of year.

Reply to  Richard M
April 2, 2022 1:30 pm

And depends of ocean temperatures: the most important deep ocean upwelling is near the Peruvian/Chilean coast. When these waters warm up, they release a lot of CO2 which the trade winds spread over the total equator. Near the poles the reverse happens with the sinking waters…

JCM
April 2, 2022 8:16 am

The carbon cycle is only relevant in a climatological sense in terms of biogeochemical interactions with the water cycle, and surface energy balance.

Net Radiation (Rnet) = (S↓−S↑)+(L↓−L↑) = H + λE +G + J +M + Ad = Surface Flux
S↓−S↑ = net solar input
L↓−L↑ = net longwave flux
H = sensible heat
λE = Latent heat flux (LE evapotranspiration)
G = Ground heat storage
J = Vegetation heat storage
M = Energy used in photosynthesis and respiration
Ad = Horizontal heat advection

A reduction of stable soil organics (carbon), is associated with less water retention in the soil. This changes surface temperature by shifting the energy balance from latent heat (evaporative cooling) to sensible heat (warm air near the surface).

Climate changes have much less to do with heat trapping changes of various gases, and more to do with energy transport within the atmosphere.

flux.jpg
JCM
Reply to  JCM
April 2, 2022 8:25 am
alastair gray
April 2, 2022 8:30 am

so it could be better or woerse than we thought. The smart money goes on worse

Clyde Spencer
April 2, 2022 8:33 am

The estimate of how much carbon dioxide plants pull from the atmosphere is critical to accurately monitor and predict the amount of climate-changing gasses in the atmosphere.

I have it on good authority that these measurements are unimportant. The only thing that matters is that, by definition, the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration equals one-half the annual anthropogenic emissions. /sarc

Scissor
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 2, 2022 9:45 am

The measurement of carbonyl sulfide fluxes to help understand carbon dioxide fluxes has been studied for a couple of decades. Jian didn’t even mention it once in his almost 200 page thesis.

This is a good paper on the topic. https://faculty.ucmerced.edu/ecampbell3/loik/stimler-cos-2010.pdf

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Scissor
April 2, 2022 11:08 am

Arguments for the lack of any significant secular trend in atmospheric COS concentration are consistent with a balance between sinks and sources.

Their measurement of 500 picomoles +/- 20% does not give me confidence that the COS is well characterized.

What happens with C4 plant species or photosynthetic plankton? Is there any involvement of COS with bacterial decomposition of vegetation detritus?

Scissor
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 2, 2022 11:14 am

Good questions.

I think that some of the answers found are not supportive of certain narratives so have been downplayed.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 2, 2022 12:57 pm

Clyde, as you should know, the carbon balance must close at any moment in time and if the increase in the atmosphere is less than human emissions, then the natural fluxes must be more sink than source, except if some CO2 escapes to space…

Indeed you don’t need to know anything of any natural cycle to know the net result of all natural cycles together… No /sarc needed, just simple balance calculations…

Rich Davis
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
April 2, 2022 4:22 pm

Long ago stopped bothering to try to get Clyde to acknowledge that. I believe he actually asserts that the mass balance doesn’t close. Kind of like 1+1=X. How do we know that X isn’t 6? We can’t measure it.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 2, 2022 6:04 pm

We can’t measure it.

That is really the point. If we re-write your algebraic equation with uncertainties, it might look like 1 +/-0.5 + 1 +/-0.5 = 2 +/-1

Does that “close” when there is a 50% uncertainty?

Last edited 1 month ago by Clyde Spencer
Rich Davis
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 2, 2022 6:59 pm

There is no such uncertainty Clyde. The CO2 concentration change and the CO2 emissions over the period can be determined with very low error, especially if you look at a period of several years, starting and ending the period at the same time of year to avoid seasonal effects. The unknown is the net flux due to all the fluxes that can’t be measured accurately. The increase is half the emissions, so the natural net flux is negative (out of the atmosphere, a net sink). As such it is mathematically impossible for ocean outgassing or any other source to be responsible for the rise in CO2 concentration.

We’ve been over this ground so many times.

The fact that our emissions are responsible for the increase in CO2 is not at all a bad thing. More CO2 is an incredibly good thing, and at 1.7 degrees per doubling of CO2 concentration, it could never be anything but a benefit to humanity.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 3, 2022 6:20 am

The problem is that human emissions are so small, that to attribute the increase in the ppm solely to human emissions is not reasonable. The variance from things like soil and the things in the soil could also be responsible as temperatures rise.

There is also the fact that increases in CO2 follows temperature increases. If human CO2 is the entire reason for CO2 growth, then one must also conclude that human emitted CO2 is also causing the temperature increase.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Jim Gorman
April 3, 2022 10:17 am

Jim,
Our emissions are indeed a small source relative to the seasonal fluxes (both sources and sinks). Those huge fluxes are a net sink. The accumulation of our emissions is something that has been going on for many decades, a slow annual accumulation.

What is unreasonable is to claim that natural sources are responsible for the long-term rise when the mass balance shows that natural net fluxes are a sink and the amount of our annual emissions is about twice the rate of increase.

The observed very modest warming may be partially due to an enhanced greenhouse effect, but the case may also be that they are two factors that just happen to both be rising at the same time independent of each other.

I agree that over millions of years, clearly CO2 changes lag temperature changes when only natural effects are in play. They are moving independently in modern times. While CO2 rose continuously, temperature declined from 1945-1975 and then rose sharply to 1998, and then was flat, rose again for a time and is flat again. So there’s no strong correlation between CO2 and temperature while anthropogenic emissions are in play.

If you’re assuming that my argument is that we’re responsible for the rise in CO2 therefore we’re responsible for the overall rise (in fits and starts) of temperature, then you are misunderstanding my point.

As FE has noted, Henry’s Law controls whether the flux is into or out of the ocean. When the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere is greater than the partial pressure in the surface water, the flux is from the air into the ocean. Sea surface temperature is warming a bit, but the driving force is still the imbalance in partial pressure.

When I refer to empirically-derived estimates of the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) being 1.7K per doubling, that is based on attributing all of the observed warming to an enhanced greenhouse effect, which is probably exaggerated.

If being reasonable is your goal, you’d have to acknowledge that our emissions over the past couple of centuries have slowly accumulated CO2 in the atmosphere and it’s not a problem.

Gary Pearse
April 2, 2022 9:09 am

The hands on research and the idea of having millions of samples taken (and analyzed?) globally are good. A big criticism: it took 10 times as many words to tell the story and made a simple study more confusing.

“We are not challenging the well-established climate change science, but we should be able to account for all carbon in the ecosystem and currently cannot,” she said. “What we found is that the models of the ecosystem’s response to climate change need updating.”

Yes Charles, genuflexion to the Climate Kahuna was grating and unnecessary. The work was really just rearranging the furniture in terms of climate theory since the total in the atmosphere remains 400 and something ppm Wherever it comes from.

Stephen Lindsay-Yule
April 2, 2022 9:28 am

The language used isn’t science but political. “well established science”, “vital to predicting climate”, climate changing gases”, “climate change is happening because of more extreme events”. We observe them more than ever before thanks to satellites and video phones.

The carbon cycle shows 17-21ppm (95-120 petagrams) of carbon dioxide is taken up by the biosphere(Feb-Aug) when snow has all melted.

Solar energy 343 watts per square meter is still higher than what earth emits 339 watts per square meter.
As of today.
This is in the normal.

Unfortunately political climate science has this as 376 watts (37 watts over heated) where nowhere is below minus 10 degrees Celsius. Far from established. Consensus is making everyone agree before even taking measurements even if it is wrong, then fudge the measurements. Failure of scientific method.

80 degree S, 90 degree E a temperature of -52 degree Celsius was observed. .

Derg
Reply to  Stephen Lindsay-Yule
April 2, 2022 9:48 am

It would have been -53 if it wasn’t for all this damn CO2 😉

Doonman
April 2, 2022 10:26 am

“What we found is that the models of the ecosystem’s response to climate change need updating.”

That can only mean that the functions programmed into the models are incorrect.
And that can only mean that the models are not “physics based”.

Which means that current model output is not fit for purpose.

Which also means that any policy decisions based on model output are a scam.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Doonman
April 2, 2022 11:10 am

Contrary to public pronouncements, the science is not settled.

ihfan
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 2, 2022 2:47 pm

If the science truly was settled, then why is so much money and time spent on trying to prove it correct?

The very fact that so many are studying “climate change” means that they do not accept the “science is settled”, otherwise, why bother?

It would seem that the scientific community as a whole doesn’t believe that the science is settled.

ThinAir
April 2, 2022 10:52 am

NASA has a discussion of Carbon Cycle here :

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/CarbonCycle

They have a nice diagram it (I attached to this post), with this explanation:

This diagram of the fast carbon cycle shows the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes, and red are human contributions in (metric) Gigatons of carbon per year. White numbers indicate stored carbon.

They then separately discuss the Fast and Slow Carbon Cycles, where the Fast one is the biological cycle (and human contributions). However, note the factor of 100 on the UNCERTAINTY they place on the quantity of carbon that moves through that Fast Cycle.

Here is their quote:

The Fast Carbon CycleThe time it takes carbon to move through the fast carbon cycle is measured in a lifespan. The fast carbon cycle is largely the movement of carbon through life forms on Earth, or the biosphere. Between 10^15 and 10^17 grams (1,000 to 100,000 million metric tons) of carbon move through the fast carbon cycle every year.

This further confirms how “very unsettled” is this science is.

carbon_cycle.jpeg
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ThinAir
April 2, 2022 6:22 pm

The ‘Fast Carbon Cycle’ only takes into account those things that have subjectively been assigned to the fast category. It ignores the slow rates of huge amounts of rocks, whose weathering rates vary with elevation and precipitation. A properly done Carbon Cycle should include the fluxes for all elements of the Carbon Cycle.

There is a lot of hand waving when it comes to the Carbon Cycle, and there are probably some large errors that have not been recognized previously. That is the thrust of this research article, questioning the assumptions and SWAGs involved in trying to quantify the fluxes and assigning causality.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 3, 2022 12:15 pm

You can categorize the fluxes and define the reservoirs to an infinite degree of complexity, if you like.

It doesn’t matter how complex you want to make it. There’s the atmospheric reservoir with a well-characterized quantity of carbon. There’s a source that is closely estimated by production records. There’s a mass balance around the atmosphere.

We can say with certainty that the net effect of all the complexity of the other fluxes apart from our emissions is that carbon exits the atmosphere. Therefore the observed slow rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration which is about half the rate of our emissions has to be due to the steady accumulation of our emissions.

b.nice
April 2, 2022 12:57 pm

“critical to accurately monitor and predict the amount of climate-changing gasses in the atmosphere.”

That would be ZERO !

H2O can affect the weather..is actually part of it..

… but that is about it !

stylin19
April 2, 2022 2:19 pm

“The findings do not counter the established science of climate change”

established science ? huh?

Tom
April 2, 2022 3:47 pm

The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.

Isn’t it interesting that China is funding research in the US to ‘prove’ Global Warming.

JungianINTP
April 2, 2022 4:38 pm

Forwarded Message :

Fritz Freud ( and Steve Kirsch )

The larger, more dangerous scam 
is the idea, “Green House Gasses.”

Co2 outgassing is FOOD for Flora,
which provides our ( Fauna’s )
CRITICAL oxygen needs.

The latest, dumb-as-box-of-bent-
nails idea coming from those
Reptilian-Brained, Libertine Leftists 
is their pursuit of “zero Co2 
emissions” ! 

Utter madness !

Find and read the late Robert Felix’s
Last-Word-on-Climate-Change book, 
“Not by Fire but by Ice.”

I’ve coined a term, which identifies the
ROOT Cause of climate change ( use it ) :

— Cyclical Solar-Effected Climate Change —

Buy snowshoes and build hydroponic food 
facilities—or starve ( Seer Edgar Cayce 
had warned of these Earth Changes, that 
were to unfold because of solar cycles ) !

Read this :
https://coldclimatechange.com/what-would-a-mini-iceage-look-and-feel-like%EF%BB%BF/

-Rick

ATheoK
April 2, 2022 8:00 pm

Was this article published a day late? Instead of 4/1?

letmepicyou
April 3, 2022 11:52 am

Carbon Dioxide FEEDS THE PLANET.

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