Global Warming - Hit That Reset Button

By chemical sam Posted in Comments (55) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

The use of Wind in an oceanic/atmospheric weather model. What a novel idea.

Lovely winter we're having. I have seven inches. Of snow in my front yard in NNJ. A mild but unusually late and persistent winter here I think. But the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is getting clobbered. Snow in Israel, Greece, Baghdad! Ice levels in the Arctic Circle are back to 1966 levels, too.

Reset those climate models, boys. (Hey, where does one receive a degree in climatology anyway? It might as well be cosmetology at this point.) The slovenly math is coming back to bite you, as it always will.

Read today's (the February 26, 2008) issue of Spaceweather. They had to circle the newbie sunspot, the first in a long while. Click on the pic of the sun to see how small it is. But they counted it. No telling what's going to happen next on that crazy Sun.

Enjoy also in today's issue the correlation between volcanism and stratospheric dust, strengthened by lunar eclipse observations. Note that stratospheric dust takes only five years to be completely cleansed from the stratosphere, apparently a normal natural process. My bet is that stratospheic lightning is helping that along by way of electrostatic precipitation, but that's only my guess. This process would be applicable to man-made dust and soot as well. (I wonder how events like aurorae and noctilucent clouds correlate with stratopheric dust, or the lack thereof.)

Wind matters. Solar events matter. Volcanism matters. Stratospheric opacity matters. Chlorophyll matters. Current conditions matter. Let's hope science driven by political agenda doesn't begin to matter.

People better start taking modelling more seriously and start adding things in, in a truly representative way, that might have an impact on the result, rather than relying on trends, unjustifiable extrapolation, or a scalar function of all these variables, like the way CO2 is currently being held up.

Is just going to be more arrogance about how this time they know whats going on. They will go on about how despite the fact they have been consistently wrong this is just science at work so get cracking on those carbon taxes.

According to Robert Toggweiler of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University and Joellen Russell, assistant professor of biogeochemical dynamics at the University of Arizona -- two prominent climate modellers -- the computer models that show polar ice-melt cooling the oceans, stopping the circulation of warm equatorial water to northern latitudes and triggering another Ice Age (a la the movie The Day After Tomorrow) are all wrong.

"We missed what was right in front of our eyes," says Prof. Russell. It's not ice melt but rather wind circulation that drives ocean currents northward from the tropics. Climate models until now have not properly accounted for the wind's effects on ocean circulation, so researchers have compensated by over-emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

"Hey, where does one receive a degree in climatology anyway? It might as well be cosmetology at this point" Of course cosmetology is a more exact science and serves the world a far better service ;) Just think if cosmetologists were as ignorant, arrogant and agenda driven...we would have a LOT of unattractive women in the world.

Dude, Tipper was hottt.

Yes, I used three 't's.

Man is free at the moment he wishes to be. --Voltaire

Missing Dark Matter is to Cosmology as
Missing Grey Matter is to Cosmetology

It just ain't there!

Yes, that's the title of this new paper by Toggweiler and Russell. And their conclusion:
"It seems that the information from the past is telling us to expect a stronger oceanic circulation in the warmer climate to come."
So that's the news - a different estimate of ocean circulation; not a revision of global warming.

And at least have the honesty to admit it.
AGW claims were that the warming would halt the Gulf Stream.
AGW claimed that halting the big currents would disrupt the world climate system.
That was preposterous at the time, and is now clearly seen as false.

There has been discussion about the Gulf Stream, but it is by no means a firm AGW prediction that it will close down. There has been uncertainty as to how it will go. And you should read this new paper; it doesn't say anything about the Gulf Stream, but is mainly concerned about the Southern Ocean.

It is annoying that you are able to make the arguments you do with a straight face.

What is particularly frustrating is that instead of doing the ethical thing and simply admitting that AGW got yet another prediction wrong, you pretend that the prediciton did not exist. It is as if your faith requires 100% accuracy for AGW as your side has promoted it, or there is nothing there.
BTW, Google has 247,000 hits for "gulf stream global warming".

You need to tell what they say, and how you think they prove your case. Here is a list of quotes from your links:
Link 1:

Disruption of the conveyor-belt current was the basis of the film The Day After Tomorrow, which depicted a world thrown into chaos by a sudden and dramatic drop in temperatures. That scenario was dismissed by researchers as fantasy, because climate models suggest that the current is unlikely to slow so suddenly.

Link 2:

Harry Bryden at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK, whose group carried out the analysis, says he is not yet sure if the change is temporary or signals a long-term trend. "We don’t want to say the circulation will shut down," he told New Scientist. "But we are nervous about our findings. They have come as quite a surprise."

Link 3:

At what threshold will the Conveyor cease?
The short answer is: We do not know. Nor have scientists determined the relative contributions of a variety of sources that may be adding fresh water to the North Atlantic. Among the suspects are melting glaciers or Arctic sea ice, or increased precipitation falling directly into the ocean or entering via the great rivers that discharge into the Arctic Ocean. Global warming may be an exacerbating factor.

Can you find quotes that make your case?

And google hits just show that it's being discussed. Which is what I said.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

This is what drives me nuts about this whole issue; there's NEVER a firm prediction, there's ALWAYS "uncertainty about how it will go". The only thing we seem to "know" for certain is that we're all going to die a horrible, lingering death in about 40 years, if we don't immediately follow Al Gore back into the pre-industrial age.

Look, your "consensus" is worth exactly squat until you can come up with the goods. If you people can't use your theory to draw a line in the sand and say that "x" is going to happen in timeframe "y", ITS...NOT...SCIENCE.

*Real* science can predict the future and explain the past, the best I've seen anyone do with AGW is to assign blame for what's going on right now; every event outside the norm is caused by AGW. I could just as easily claim that these events are being cuased by an epic battle between Loki and Thor, and I'd have exactly as much hard evidence supporting me as you do. The only difference is that mine makes a more entertaining story.
"You can't save the Earth unless you're willing to make other people sacrifice" - Scott Adams (speaking through Dogbert)

that most of this stuff isn't actually AGW. It's downstream inference about the consequences of warming (from any cause). In this case, it's oceanography. And if you're reading it in the research journals, there's very likely to be uncertainty.

AGW is actually very bounded, as a theory. It says that GHG gasses block outgoing radiation, leading to a net 2 W/m2 (approx) heat inflow, which will cause warming. The strength of evidence those propositions is discussed in the IPCC summary, and is high. There's a lot of uncertainty as to what the warming will entail.


“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan

"You can't save the Earth unless you're willing to make other people sacrifice" - Scott Adams (speaking through Dogbert)

This emphasis on wind involves redistributing the heat through ocean currents. There may be some eventual effect on global heat inflow and outflow, but it is indirect. And yes, the strongest indirect effect is probably through cloud formation. This is the main uncertainty described in the IPCC report.


“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan

not a nett source - well, OK, you could say it is the mechanism by which sunlight on the ocean heats the air, but the fact that currents cause it to heat air in different places doesn't add to the total heating.

The energy escapes the influence of its "blanket" as the wind and ocean currents steer it to areas with lower concentrations of GHG's and is subsequently radiated back to space. It seems to me that diminished solar input, such as we are currently experiencing, would speed this process.

The sharp drop in global temperatures over the last 12-month period seems to bear that out.

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

A compiled list of all the sources can be seen here. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

Source: Global ∆T °C
HadCRUT - 0.595
GISS - 0.750
UAH - 0.588
RSS - 0.629
Average: - 0.6405°C

For all four metrics the global average ∆T for January 2007 to January 2008 is: - 0.6405°C

This represents an average between the two lower troposphere satellite metrics (RSS and UAH) and the two land-ocean metrics (GISS and HadCRUT). While some may argue that they are not compatible data-sets, since they are derived by different methods (Satellite -Microwave Sounder Unit and direct surface temperature measurements) I would argue that the average of these four metrics is a measure of temperature, nearest where we live, the surface and near surface atmosphere.


“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan

Are you aware that the Solar Constant on the Earth is 1366 W/m2, plus or minus a few parts per thousand on a daily basis, which means, say, +/- 2.5 W/m2 or more, in a given day , yes? That variation alone is at least as large as the net effect from CO2 claimed by the IPCC that's supposed to cause all the trouble.

The 1366 value isn't constant either but has a pattern, see:

This is data from Davos, take note.
Notice the 11-year distance between humps in the data? That's sunspot activity, a perfect overlap, mi amigo.

This is better science, and here's why.

Several experiments measuring the same phenomenon concurrently in with different instruments, offering the same results, with the exception of a constant offset between any given set of overlapping data. Simple, correctable experimental error.

The quantity is pertinent, incident power per unit surface (watts per square meter). It's given as an absolute value (not deviation from an arbitrary average), it's an intensive quantity, from satellites (minimizing atmospheric degradation). It directly affects surface temperatures, like those on the Earth!

There is a strong correlation between an 11-year cyclic variation an 11-year sunspot activity cycle on the sun. I'd be willing to bet that daily spikes correlate with individual events, like a large solar flare, a magnetic storm, or large sunspots/clusters, directly affecting the total power output of the sun on any given day.

Modellers must now pay close attention to take those variations and incorporate them into their 1976-2008 timeline. This is data can no longer be justifiably averaged. (They may wish to extrapolate backward in time though 400 years of sunspot activity, so long as it is sunspots that are the major correlator of daily power fluxuations, and the treatment of the data remain self-consistent throughout the entire data domain.)

In short, if it is possible to explain all the climate phenomena with the Sun as an variable dependant only on timeline, without the need to evoke carbon dioxide concentration (which is a dependant terrestrial variable, like on the biosphere, on human activity, on volcanism, on the ocean temperature, rainfall), then you have a winner.

AGW theory as you describe it above has something of a serious hole in it. I'm not sure how it is that greenhouse gasses can admit (let pass) incident infrared radiation during the day, and then go about blocking the same wavelength of radiation on the way out. Molecules aren't people, they can't choose to discriminate between daylight (incoming) infrared and nighttime (outgoing) infrared.

Sounds to me like someone was trying to justify how their model was predicting higher temps at night, but not so in the daytime, and forgot to take reality into account. This is a pity.

Furthermore, there are better green house gasses to consider, and I wouldn't recommend minimizing them.

Water, for instance, is a much more prevalent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Water varies wildly depending on the humidity and cloud cover. Note the following source:

Accurate solar emission manifolds (at top right), and the available distribution of light after passing through the atmosphere (down, right) are available here (remarkably). By far, the major absorber is water. Oxygen and nitrogen molecules have no way of absorbing infrared light (for orbital theory reasons I won't go into just yet). That seems to leave water and CO2 as the only significant contributors to atmospheric infrared absorption. Methane doesn't even rate. There's not enough of it, and it gets oxidized in the presence of light and air.

By simple inspection of the lower graph, water is by far the more important absorber. Imagine now that you take that little double hump at 2000 and 2050 nm (that's right, you can have both, because CO2 is responsible for both of them) and double their areas, minding the fact that you must extend downward only. This is the same as going from 200 ppm to 400 ppm CO2. Not much of a change, compared to water and more water, is it?

Now imagine the effect of going to, say, 1000 or 2000 ppm CO2. Look again at that spectrum and you'll find that you're already nearly pegged at 400 ppm. The peaks don't spread out or anything. Once you've fully absorbed in that region, you're done capturing more light, and therefore more heat. I'm curious to know how the AGW community will swallow that concept.

As far as the nighttime is concerned

Venus is held up as an extreme case of climate driven warming. Of course, it has 90 atmospheres of CO2 at ground level, allowing for a whole host of multimolecular infrared absorptions not available at a puny Earth atmosphere. There is no way on Earth that such an extreme case will ever be applicable to us. We'll all long be dead by then.

Ohhh yeah, and let's not forget the absorption of infrared and visible by the ocean itself, which is essentially the friendly version of Venus' atmosphere. Dissolved carbon dioxide is not important in terms of its absorbing capacity compared to the aqeuous fluid medium it's in.

Even a fifth of an atmospheres' worth of oxygen has as much absorption as the current levels of CO2, and at shorter (more energetic) wavelengths which means even more contribution. (I said before that oxygen doesn't absorb infrared, well the perfectly isolated molecules don't. You see, there is what is called a forbidden transition between the two lowest vibrational states of diatomic oxygen, energetically an infrared photon apart, but only accessible when oxygen bumps hard against other molecules in the atmosphere. At standard atmosphere, this happens at least 10 million times per second, for every oxygen molecule. In short, even oxygen is as big a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

And how long do you think an allowed vibrational transition will stay populated on a CO2 molecule under those collsion conditions?

So water, oxygen, solar variations, cloud cover, green plants (the best of all of them), all have demonstrably more effect on atmospheric and oceanic thermodynamics than carbon dixode does.

This is why I don't believe in CO2-based AGW. No matter what other scientists (read: climatologists) say (especially because I have run some of these spectra myself). No matter what zealots say. I have my reasons, and they're more solid than any I've ever heard. The world may melt down one day, but you can't put the finger on my g-g-generation.

And I'll be damned and gone to Hell before I vote anyone into office that subscribes to AGW. The USA may sign on and trade carbon like a bunch of Europeans, but I will divest in everything last thing that that trade touches. Just plant more corn and ash, and soak up the excess CO2 to make more Jack. That's my politics on the issue.

Congratuations, Pliny. You have now reached the end of the AGW/CO2 connection.

I'll reply in more detail later. But there's a geometry issue with those radiation figures. 1366 is the incident radiation on a disk with the same diameter as the earth. The 2 W/m2 figure that I quote is per m2 of the sphere surface - a factor of 4 different. Or to put it another way, 1365 W/m2 is the radiation at noon where the sun is directly overhead. But the 2 W/m2 is averaged over all latitudes, day and night. Again, that works out to a factor of 4.

Yes, I'm very well aware of solar variation - in fact I quoted a similar plot a few days ago, making the point that solar variation is about 0.1% max over sunspot cycles (the day-to-day variation is far too high frequency to affect climate). The AGW increment is about 1% of outgoing IR.

Molecules aren't people, but they are tuned oscillators. For anything more complex than a symmetric diatom, they absorb strongly in the IR. Your plot of absorption of incoming absorption is not relevant (except that it shows very little absorption); I'll try to dig up a spectrum of outgoing IR. The key fact is that only about 10% of IR emitted from land gets directly through the atmosphere. The rest is absorbed and reemitted at various levels of the atmosphere.

Water is indeed the most significant absorber. But, as you'll be aware, it's atmospheric concentration is stabilised by the ocean. We can't change it, except by changing the temperature. That we do, and it provides a positive feedback of about 0.5 loop gain.

Methane is effective, even in small quantities, because it is the strongest of the common GHG per molecule, and lasts for decades. There is a very important plot in the IPCC summary which breaks down the components by gas of AGW. I'll post a link; it's been cited here many times.

"Your plot of absorption of incoming absorption is not relevant (except that it shows very little absorption);"

The yellow region is the absorbed part. It's a crapload of energy absorbed, particularly in the visible and ultraviolet regime. in the infraread regime it's WATER grabbing up just about every photon it can at all the wavelengths in which it absorbs.

"I'll try to dig up a spectrum of outgoing IR."

You do that, fine. And then I'll show you an IR emission spectrum of a warm Earth.

Ever wonder why deserts cool off so quickly at night? According to the CO2 re-emission model you're evoking, they shouldn't do so any faster than a forest sitting at the same temperature. It's the lack of water in the skies above, the dry, clear cloudless air that permits more IR from the sand to pass unhindered up and out of the atmosphere. The CO2 levels are essentially the same everywhere.

Naturally overcast skies have the opposite effect.

"Methane is effective, even in small quantities, because it is the strongest of the common GHG per molecule, and lasts for decades."

Yes, it is stronger. Again, I don't see a methane component in the adsorption spectrum I cited earlier. That's for a reason. There's not enough of it. Funny how you claim it lasts for decades and it doesn't build up. I'm curious to know how you ran across that decades-long staying power.

Methane's low-level presence is a question of steady state kinetics. Created and destroyed just as quickly as it can build up. Methane comes out of the ground, various animals, bacteria, the ocean, all the time, none of it is anthropogenic, except for the moron whose pilot light is out at home. Methane is constantly oxidized by oxygen, activated by sunlight, during the day. All the time. It's converted to CO2 eventually, which a very small contribution to the overal CO2 presence. The higher you are in the sky, the faster it happens, but it happens at sea level, too. You won't find any above a few miles up.

All hydrocarbons, which are even worse green house gasses by your definition, suffer the same fate, and quickly. The greatest source of atmospheric hydrocarbons more complex than methane is green plants. The greatest source of photochemical smog is, again, green plants. I'd hate to exact a final solution on green plants for the sake of a couple ppm swamp gas.

The chemistry of the atmosphere and the biosphere should stand a little more scrutiny from people who claim any knowledge in the fate of molecules in the atmosphere.

"The rest is absorbed and reemitted at various levels of the atmosphere."

In other words, emitted.

"Water is indeed the most significant absorber. But, as you'll be aware, it's atmospheric concentration is stabilised by the ocean."

Absolute humidity is governed by the solubility of water in air at a given temperature, not by the ocean. It's just that because of the ocean, there is always enough water to achieve saturation, or a relative humidity of 100%, when conditions permit.

And because water content is so variable, including the fact that things like cloud formation can occur, the "Standard Atmosphere" is taken to be anhydrous. Another pitfall where many a CO2 zealot has met his fate. Don't forget to include the water.

OK, here'sthe plot I've been looking for. The plot you've been talking about is the left - the one I'm talking about, where the greenhouse effect operates, is the right, at about 10 micron. Note the big CO2 blockage, and moderate CH4.

Other facts:
The lifetime of methane is 9.6 years.
The absorption and re-emission of CO2 is important, because it modifies the window effect. It is absorbed in a specific band (about 20 micron) but re-emitted as broad spectrum, so it can be absorbed again. Not realising this leads to fallacious saturation arguments.
Again, yes, water is dominant and CO2 is less. But the greenhouse effect is big - about 30C. Varying the smaller part that CO2 plays is still a big deal.

Finally, it's been shown before, but here again is the IPCC radiative forcing plot, which is the key to AWG.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

as I said. But CO2 is important because:
1. It blocks near the peak intensity of thermal IR
2. It over-blocks. That is, in the blocking range, it blocks all the IR over a short path (a few km). This is then re-radiated across the general spectrum, and the part in the CO2 section absorbed again. Water, in much of the range, only partly blocks, so there is little amplification.
3. We're changing CO2. Water in the air is fixed by the sea - we can't change it, except by heating.

They are selling a program. They have long since stopped the science.

I only cite their interview about the paper as a reference, through the link I supplied above, for the quote shown higher up in the thread.

It's clear in their paper that Toggweiler and Russell operate under the assumption that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and warming trends are primarily anthropogenic, which remains an unsubstantiated set of claims. I do not make any claims on that point, and I allow my opponents to supply my main reasoning for concern. Because all such scientists drive home the point that CO2 levels can increase on their own, like, just after the last Ice Age, before Humankind could possibly have caused the change, I'm curious to know how it is that today's changes can automatically be ascribed primarily to Humankind.

It may make great political copy for those trying to wrest power and funds from others, but it's scientific folly, and in the long run this sort of undertaking always ends up causing some major tooth marks in our collective glutei.

Furthermore, and speaking as a professional scientist, the motivation for this paper in the first place (the fact that something as simple as wind hadn't been addressed as a contributing factor), embarrasses me to say the least and it should embarrass them enough to come with a profuse apology in the abstract paragraph. The fact that they get another paper in Nature from a revelation about their colossal oversight astounds me. I have been naive enough in the past to assume that the weather was somehow involved in weather predictions. Never again.

Toggweiler and Russell basically say that their arguments about global warming are even stronger now because their new treatment of the data now suggest the circulation is increasing.

So the AGW model includes wind now. It's still unsubstantiated.

One big problem for them is, of course, that this year the Arctic ice cap got bigger anyway, thermohaline and atmospheric circulation models notwithstanding. This would be a more pertinent, and directly observable, fact. (As I recall, the South polar ice cap gained ground six months ago during their winter, which is an even bigger yearlong slam.)

More ice absolutely means a reversal of overall melting processes, which means AGW theories MUST reset to newly rebounded ice level, and try again. More atmospheric CO2 may not mean anything in terms of increased warming; it merely shows that we are stressing the ability of the biosphere to maintain its uptake rate of CO2. (The chlorophyll/light/water system is the only significant re-uptake mechanism for CO2.) That's all it means, until someone can demonstrate a working mechanism, isolated from all other factors, directly linking the new levels of CO2 to warming. What impact an extra 200 ppm of CO2 actually has is anybody’s guess right now.

We have done nothing yet to limit our use of fossil fuels, which even I would concede must add CO2 to the atmosphere. (There has been lots of talk about it though, and by the way, that's a form of anthropogenic CO2 that I can live without.) Reversals of polar melting, therefore, cannot be anthropogenic, according to any adherents of AGW. This would run contrary to their belief system. (Of course, I'm OK with the possibility that weather changes is complex and cyclic, so it doesn't bother me in the least that ice caps and glaciers come and go on a millennial basis in the first place.)

We've discussed some of these things very recently. Here's the data showing how atmospheric CO2 matches our use
matches our burning (and there's an isotopic match too). There's more in this diary. And the issue of arctic ice is here (see comments). Yes, it's recovered from the big thaw, but is still well below the 1979-2000 average. It's higher than this time last year, but about the same as the year before.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

That is a real curve through which you are drawing an arbitrary line. My bet is the initial value of that line coincides with the advent of satellite photos. If not, the data has been conveniently truncated for some unacceptible reason. It's not enough of a sample to tell me anything, really. Even the title is biased, "change", yes. But "anomaly" implies something outside of prediction, which shouldn't enter into the process at this point.

What data can you glean from this graph that suggests the ice won't just keep on accumulating for the next 20 years now that this year happened the way it did? Or suddenly nosedive and disappear next year? How is a rebound possible at all if AGW is actually true? What part of this data suggests that the "trend" is primarily AGW, and not a natural process, like the "trend" that made southern Greenland partially-forested and arable farmland between 800-1300 AD, as documented by the farmers living there, or inaccessibly bitter cold for 300 years thereafter? (The local Europeans did call it "green land" for a reason, you know.)

What was the South polar cap doing all that time, both in and out of contact with the sea?

The entire body of that curve is total surface ice coverage. Total ice mass, or volume, the far more pertinent value, cannot be determined from the surface coverage, unless you know the thickness of the ice cap throughout, which can't be determined from space. The total available ice mass (an even more pertinent value) should include the Southern Hemisphere (after all, gain a ton in the north, lose a ton in the south means no net change). That data is an important first step toward a useful result. This data must be taken cum granum salum.

The span 1979-2000 marked for average surface area is taken completely arbitrarily, (the value of the first data obtained) except perhaps as a local maximum. And by local, I mean just within the measured years, maybe a few years earlier from other data. 21 years of ice cap changes do not a tolling bell make. From this graph the extent of change from the winter maxima and summer minima should correlate cleanly with ocean flow and temperaure at the points of contact. If not you are missing something more.

You can only go so far to say from this data, that in inexplicaly irregular fits and starts, the arctic ice cap has melted away 2 million sq kilometers, out of a total of say 14 million. That's great.

Is this normal? Who can tell?
Is this all, or mostly, or even partly anthropogenic? That remains a big unknown.

So from a graph like this you are telling me that we are headed for a catastrophe?

This graph, held up to be a stark indicator, is a rather easily-dismissed example of what passes for science these days, because it's area (not volume) data, metered arbitrarily, roughly correlated to seasonal variation, of very narrow scope in time, which leads to nothing beyond an average downward trend, which can't even be related to human activity. Assuming, that is, the trend doesn't do something odd, like not care about its own previous history, and just reverse itself again next year, in the face of even greater human negligence. The anomaly in the anomaly, I guess.

I'll do isotopes later, after supper.

It is satellite data; there is nothing so quantitative before that. Anomaly is just a standard term in the field, meaning deviation from some base. I agree it is not ideal.

AGW is a slow process, and it's unwise to look for changes year-to-year. As an idea of the timescale, the net heat inflow is about 2 W/m2, which would take 3 years to heat the atmosphere 1C. But then it continues.

For my part, I don't take too much notice of cold (or warm) Januaries, ice-free summers etc, or other temperature effects, except to check that temperatures are reasonably consistent with the heat inflow data. That is what is well understood and quantified, and is the real basis of AGW.

Just how slow ? By that thinking we are still cooling down from a thousand years ago ?

Just which time period do you want ?
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

I mentioned 3 years, which is roughly the time constant of the smoothing provided by the atmosphere. Otherwise, people talk in terms of 0.1C to .6C per decade. That's 0.01-0.05C per year - not a big change year on year, but it accumulates.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

to look for yearly changes. If people didn't futz with data to make it smooth and pretty, they'd have more useful data.

The Keeling curve is a perfect example of regular annual variation that is often smoothed over like some brain emptied by an alien mind probe.
I for one like the Keeling curve. It's chock full of yummy goodness.

See the Keeling Curve with inset at:

The variation must occur on at least a monthly scale, if not almost a weekly scale, in order to see such fine structure that the unabridged red curve offers. The blue curve is crap, a consequence of misunderstanding very typical of errors which currently plague the scientific community. (It's better when you make the curve smoother so you can preach the inconvenient truth to people without all that troublesome information.)

The response time in the Keeling curve is this good: It would take roughly a week for a cloud to circumnavigate either hemisphere (based on two days for weather to traverse the USA), and the hemispheres don't particularly mix that fast at the equator's trade winds. So I couldn't ask for fine structure in data better than a week. Yet, Mauna Loa, near the equator, obtains this gorgeous data as the average of both hemispheres, with easily discernable monthly variations.

And the Keeling curve isn't just measuring an on/off switch. It's measuring the difference between summertime in Northern Hemisphere (with people heating buildings in the South) and summertime in the southern hemisphere (with people heating building in the North). Basically the fine structure is only being affected by the differences in overall fossil fuel consumption (which is known), and the change in overall chlorophyll density, brought about by seasonal autumn turns in the deciduous forests of either hemisphere, which should be known). I have to have been born and currently live near on the edge one the of greenest places on the planet (six months out of the year, that is.) You guessed it -- the western half of New Jersey!

Nobody suffocates during the winter up here from atmospheric CO2 poisoning. The Oceans, and the Amazon, and the Caribbean, and Mediterranean, and Sub-Saharan and Southeast Asia are soaking up CO2 all year round (even in the de-forested grasslands). So it's basically a battle of the Northern half of North America, Europe, and the steppes of Russia, versus Oceania and Tierra Del Fuego. And the people who burn fossil fuels in those areas.

Cars in America and Europe don't count, they don't change consumption much throughout the year. It's all the heating bills, and electrics, and even that is balance by air-conditioning.

That limited annual cycle of photosynthesis and combustion allows for a 4 ppm rebound of CO2 levels every year for the past 50 years. in contrast, CO2 has been building up on the order of 1.5 ppm every year over the past fifty years. Send up 5.5 ppm, get back 4.0 ppm, every year. Look at it close.

I think you should find it bitterly ironic that the rebound occurs in the USA spring and summer, during the warmest part of our year. Too bad we can't get more of Canada and The Baltic and Scandinavian states in on the warm weather. Just a little more coal...

That rebound to lower levels is strictly due to normal photosynthesis, still running as quickly as it ever did. If depleted rainforests are a real problem, I don't see a sluggishness in the rebound compared with 50 years ago do you? More yummy goodness. The slope of that annual rise and fall is a function of the CO2 re-uptake rate constant, buried in the change in hemispherical contrasts for photosynthesis and fossil fuel consumption. So photosynthsis is just barely being overwhelmed.

Simply put, and roughly gauged from the fine structure from the curve: Take the USA and Europe. Make heating homes (5.5/4.0 - 1) times (38%) more efficient (or cars), and the process is arrested. Period. Put some trees in and we're ready to rock and roll all over again.

Want to have some global fun? Have a global two week's vacation. Turn off all machines in the world for a week, maybe two, and put a blip in the curve, and extract the uptake rate constant directly.

Which I doubt is necessary because there is still no evidence that mounting CO2 is anything more than an indication of a slightly stressed ecosystem. A completely reversible and easy problem to overcome. The question is whether or not the extra CO2 is a problem worth overcoming economically as well as ecologically.

Stupidly simple? Yes. Too simple to use to gain political power? Absolutely. This is why the Democrats are predicting doom (unless we vote them in, and sign on to the latest and most mind-bogglingly huge scam that has ever been perpetrated on the world, of course), instead of suggesting we grow our own veggies and turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees...

That's what I get from the proper interpretation of useful data.

Sheesh, I'm done for the evening.

As your link points out, the oscillation is just due to seasonal photosynthesis changes, and the fact that the N hemisphere has much more vegetation. Since the annual uptake of CO2 is about 80 Gtons (about 10% of the atmospheric total), the fluctuation isn't surprising. CO2 in the atmosphere is well-mixed on an annual timescale.

The oscillation is not noise, it's a real time response to "small changes" in the amount of chlorophyll in play, perfectly visible on a weekly basis.

During the summer, even with all the CO2 we throw might into the air, photosynthesis is no longer overwhelmed. Even when fully taxed by human activity it gains ground, 5 ppm in six months.

Back off just a tiny bit, nothing drastic, and the problem is solved. But again, is the probem of more CO2 really a problem? Is rising CO2 the cause of any warming trend, or is it just a equilibrium shift that's completely independent of normal variations?

I never said it was noise. Photosynthesis removes carbon from the air during growing seasons (eg treerings). Respiration (plants, animals, bacteria) returns it, more uniformly through the year, but at a longterm balancing rate. The Northern hemisphere removes and returns much more than the SH, so there is a nett annual cycle. 5 ppm means that at the NH summer max, there is about 15 Gtons more C in the biosphere relative to late winter. I don't know what you mean by a weekly basis.

The mean curve is not nonsense. Since the oscillation is annual, a 12-month moving average removes it accurately. It's a very normal process with annually periodic data.

One cannot treat the oscillation as something that can be dispensed with because it doesn't serve the purpose one wishes. There is no justification for smoothing this data.

The fact that smoothing data of this sort happens all the time means nothing. Smoothing data strictly for the sake of aethetics is yet another hallmark of junk science that plagues my community (and yours). It's incorrect, and it can be worse.

People are deliberately removing information for the sake of making a crude politicially useful point (that CO2 is climbing, and you better sign on to our plan), so that the finer point (that photosynthetic re-uptake is rapid after all, just slightly overwhelmed) doesn't interfere with the agenda. That's fraud in my book. And for those people that knowingly do such things in order to obtain grants or power, it's criminally fraudulent, and actionable, as far as I am concerned.


By a weekly basis, (and I said an almost weekly basis), I meant the time it takes for any incremental change in carbon dioxide to become apparent at Mauna Loa. It takes time for a molecule of CO2 to make it around the world from California. About a week, probably a little more. That's what I meant by an almost weekly basis. That travel time sets an absolute lower limit to the noise in the data, along the time line (abscissa), because the time of flight is anywhere from a almost instantaneously (Hawaii and the surrounding ocean), up to a week from points east of the instrument. Every new molecule of CO2 generated that makes it to measurement at Mauna Loa took anywhere from a minute to a week, maybe more, to get there. For every measured point, which is shown to be measured monthly in the graph, one must place a horizontal error bar of one week. Week long horizontal error bars are too short to wash out the year long oscillation. Even month long error bars would be. The oscillation is, therefore, real, and cannot be dismissed as noise. Nor can it be scoured from the data.

You might say that the oscillatory Keeling curve as shown already smoothed along the x axis. The Keeling curve should come with error bars, both horizontal and vertical. Vertical error bars would be assigned according to the sensitivity of the instrument, or instruments, measuring CO2. I'm sure those values are good to a part per million or so, so you wouldn't see too much beyond the width of the line given. The horizontal width of the line would be much thicker, but the oscillation would remain visible.


If photosynthesis and respiration were processes with a long-term balancing rate, you wouldn't be able to see the oscillation, the curve would already be dampened, there wouldn't even be an opportunity to smooth the curve, and you wouldn't be able to make any claims about how quickly photosynthesis can rectify the atmosphere (except that it was slower than the annual variations in chlorophyll affect).

The keeling curve qualitatively demonstrates that the bioshpere is never too far away from rectifying CO2 levels anytime in the last 50 years.

One can make quantitative assessments using data from this curve with a knowledge of total chlorophyll as a function of time, and total excess CO2 introduced into the atmosphere by fossil fuels.

And still, Pliny, the question remains, what indication is there that the extra CO2 is doing any harm whatsoever?

I don't want to get too far into this, because I don't think it is relevant. I'm a mathematician who inveighs frequently against misuse of curve fitting. But they're doing the right thing here.

Suppose you are selling icecreams, and looking at your bank account to see if you are really making money. There's a big annual variation. You could plot just the numbers for, say, Apr 15, and smooth between. Or you could do a centred 12-month running average. Both have their merits, and would give similar results. With CO2, you can plot the readings for successive Decembers if you don't like smoothing. You'll get the same inexorable increase.

Sure, the CO2 oscillations are meaningful, and you could infer something about the photosynthesis cycle. But plant people can make estimates directly, which is where the 60-80 Gton annual uptake comes from. It all fits. Most C fixed by photosynthesis gets respired or burnt within a few years, which is why the fluxes balance. One of my nuttier ideas for a fix is to sequester biomass (buried or sunk). You'd need to process about a tenth of the carbon that is currently fixed every year.

So what harm? Well, the CO2 brings in about 2 W/m2, or about a million Gwatt for the Earth (human energy use is about 15000 Gwatt). That has to cause warming - estimates are .1 to .6 C per decade. Is that harmful? That's a separate debate that I think conservatives need to engage in.

The blowback against all environmental concerns will be huge.
And it was not only predicted, it was completely avoidable.

People, especially beautiful women, upon hearing that I am a chemist, have a tendency to recoil as if they were forced to look at some sort of ugly facial contusion. The more scientists deviate from the truly scientific path that they presumably spent millions of man-decades building, the more likely people who do the good works of my field will go unheralded, or flatly ignored. It will be a (another) generation before people embrace the Age of Reason again. Al Gore will have won. I'll be treated like Victor Frankstein. And I won't be able to talk to pretty women about the climate anymore without having to claim that I'm a professional hair stylist. Very chilling, this whole thing.

lol by hunter

I heard that being a chemist was the only thing that was getting you the chick's attention.

This is from Tom Weller's 1985 classic "Science Made Stupid," and it seems like a good place to drop it in....

Inductive Method

  • Formulate hypothesis
  • Apply for grant
  • Perform experiments or gather data to test hypothesis
  • Alter data to fit hypothesis
  • Publish

Deductive Method

  • Formulate hypothesis
  • Apply for grant
  • Perform experiments or gather data to test hypothesis
  • Revise hypothesis to fit data
  • Backdate revised hypothesis
  • Publish

AGW "science" relies heavily on both methods....

1- decide outcome
2- form hypothesis
3- apply for grants
4- edit data to fit hypothesis
5- Publish
6- demand policy changes

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

1) decide outcomes, narrative
2) invent counter arguments for blame deflection
3) apply for grants
4) demonize those who disagree with you
5) apply for more grants
6) create data to fit narrative (research? what's that?)
7) publish bits and pieces with no peer review
8) go on talk shows
9) demand radical environmental policies when Republicans are in the White House. Sleep in Lincoln bedroom when Democrats are in White House.
10) apply for yet more grants

You forgot

*Avoid debate about data outcome vs hypothesis at all costs.

Doesn't matter what number you assign it.

Oh, wait. 4) demonize those who disagree with you fits that. Never mind.

Plus, as a chemist you could probably come up with a new formula for a color and perm that wouldn't frizz my hair. :)

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

And, by the way, I did work in a hair and skin care business for a while, and have some friends there that might be able to inform me on the color/perm/frizzies issues.

chemical sam

Change you preferences so that you will accept e-mails


Try to be nice and send sam an e-mail

No imposed limits, folks, cap-and-trade or otherwise...

And Rightly So!

It's pretty good science. Yes, the models are incomplete and don't explain all the observed phenomena yet, although they're working on that. And yes, it seems to be an inescapable fact that man-made releases of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases are indeed warming the planet.

So far, so good.

Now let's also recognize that AGW is probably a tiny little drop in the bucket, when compared to the effects of solar activity.

In forty years, when we're all shivering in fur coats and ice-skating on New York harbor, we'll all be saying we should have driven more SUVs back in 2008.

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