Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Search Tips

Comment Search Results

Search for it's the ocean

Comments matching the search it's the ocean:

    More than 100 comments found. Only the most recent 100 have been displayed.

  • Milankovitch Cycles

    Eclectic at 13:49 PM on 4 August, 2020

    Kylesa @63 , your question is a bit off the bulls-eye.

    The climate change caused by the Milankovitch cycle during the past 1 million years, has occurred in cycles of approx  100,000 years.  It is much more correct to say that those climate cycles have been triggered by the Milankovitch orbital alterations ~ because the Milankovitch changes in solar heating of the Northern Hemisphere are very slight (purely in themselves much too weak to make a difference in global climate).  However, these slight changes are then greatly magnified by the consequent change in atmospheric CO2, as the atmospheric CO2 leaves or enters the planetary oceans.

    Basically, I think of the recent glaciation/de-glaciation cycles as being caused 10% by the Milankovitch changes (which are the trigger) and 90% by the CO2 rise/fall (the CO2 being the main charge of gunpowder moving the bullet).

    More than 1 million years ago, the Milankovitch cycles were still in operation, but were having near-zero effect on climate because the atmospheric CO2 level was so high it swamped the tiny Milankovitch effect.

    The anthropogenic causes (mostly the fast-rising CO2) have been so rapid and powerful in causing GW, that it's fair to say that the weak and ultra-slow Milankovitch effects are tiny/negligible ~ like comparing a cockroach to an elephant.

  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #31

    gseattle at 08:12 AM on 3 August, 2020

    The science is clear. Unless we're missing something.
    "A 2015 study suggested that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) has weakened by 15-20% in 200 years."
    "May 20, 2020 - Over the last 200 years, the magnetic field has lost around 9% of its strength on a global average."(ESA)
    "Atlantic Circulation [is] Consistently Tied to Carbon Dioxide". Weakening AMOC means more CO2 is left in the air instead of absorbed in the ocean, no?
    The missing piece of the puzzle is whether electrically conductive salt water experiences the Lorentz force moving through earth's magnetic field.
    Weaker field = less AMOC = less ocean CO2 = more air CO2 which is what we're seeing and most of it is from nature (NOAA), and the time frame is even correct.
    Since the field is only half a gauss, the question is the quantity of force compared to the coreolis effect, convection or other forces.
    Scientists are currently frustrated in trying to model AMOC so that might be a missing factor.
    It's presented here as just a theory that can be checked out if we want to cover all the bases to avoid missing anything.
    Does this fall into one of the four categories or might there be a fifth?

  • It's only a few degrees

    MA Rodger at 21:00 PM on 30 June, 2020

    Jasper @3, Yet another take.

    You write "I get that a few degrees make a huge difference. I don't fully understand why a few degrees matter so much." Although a huge difference is suggestive that it does matter, I read your meaning that you are after an authoritiative take on the effects of "a few degrees" and something with a bit of meat on it.

    Warming the globe by "a few degrees" will make a big difference to the climate system which has been previously reasonably fixed for millenia and so will bring unprecedented change for human civilisation. But providing an authoritative account of what that change will amount to isn't so easy.

    Will those "few degrees" be enough to stop the AMOC and plunge Europe into a mini-ice age, enough to broaden the Hadley Cells and turn the central US lands and the Mediterranean lands into deserts, to green the Sahara and turn the Amazon into a treeless savannah? The answers are not straightforward. There is no long list if definitive outcomes set out in the headlines of the IPCC AR5 Synthesis Report. The word "risk" features too often when IPCC describes such outcomes.


    But there are a couple of definitive temperature-related outcomes from AGW.

    One is that Greenland will melt out somewhere between +1ºC and +2ºC threatening serious sea level rise. (The IPCC AR5 puts the upper bound at +4°C which is rather a fudge. Antarctica's ice caps are similarly a threat but how quickly they will react to global temperature rise is not well enough understood to be so predictable.) Another is the habitability of the tropics for humanity and perhaps a third is ocean acidification which would be unprecedented in tens of million of years.

    If Greenland were to melt down (a process that once started will not stop as the top of the Greenland ice sheet today sits happily frozen high up in the cold upper atmosphere), the oceans would rise by over seven metres. This compares with the last six thousand years (which spans the period of human civilisation) when changes in sea level could be measures in centimetres. A seven metre rise would be a big problem as so much of our populations today live close to sea coasts. (About a third of humanity inhabit land less than 100 metres above sea level while the loss of both Greenland and Antarctica would raise sea levens 75 metres.) The melt-down of Greenland would take a few centuries to make its mark but the process certainly becomes unstoppable if global warming remains two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial.

    The "few degrees" global temperature rise that accompanied the warming from the last glacial maximum 20,000 years ago and the dramatic impact on climate has been mentioned up-thread. The change in climate resulting from another similar-sized rise in global temperature would be just as dramatic for humanity. If global temperatures rose by six degrees celsius above pre-industrial, it could perhaps be described as a "Steam Age" as the increase in wet bulb temperatures would make the tropics a death trap for humans outside air conditioning. And such a six-degree temperature increase by 2100 is within the projection of the Business-As-Usual scenario of the IPCC.

    The ocean acidification would rival that of the PETM 55 million years ago but would happen in decades rather than tens-of-millenia.

    There is a big pile of reason not to let AGW run beyond +1.5°C. The implications for humanity and for much of the biosphere will be catastrophic if we let AGW run. It's a bit like jumping off a cliff. Predicting the height it would require for the fall to split your skull open is not straightforward but that is no reason to consider jumping. Besides, when you fall it's the intracranial hypertension that usually kills.

  • Sea level is not rising

    Eclectic at 15:52 PM on 19 February, 2020

    Duncan61 comments today on another thread [wildfires] :-

    < "O.K. where is the sea level rising.I took it upon myself to contact Freemantle port Authority and they have measured no change in 163 years.If a lot of the ice has melted why is the sea not going up???.Is it O.K. for me to ask or is it a secret " >

    Duncan, the scientific data shows a 200 mm rise in sea level at Freemantle in modern times ~ which is kind of average for worldwide sea leve rise (currently rising about 3mm per year and accelerating).  The moderator indicates that you sometimes have to adjust for vertical land movement also : but that's less than 0.2 mm per year for coastal Western Australia, so quite insignificant.

    Why would you think (or believe) that 100+ years of global ice melting and global ocean warming . . . would not  produce an ongoing sea level rise?   Even the science-denying propaganda shill who calls herself JoNova and who loves to deceive & mislead her readers . . . even she  admits that the Freemantle level has risen 200mm in just over 100 years.

    So it's a puzzle, Duncan, how you came to take up the ridiculous nonsense you got from the Freemantle Authority.  Sounds like maybe your informant was a jokester enjoying pulling your leg . . . or he's a rabid Flat-Earther . . . or his brother is a Real Estate agent trying to clinch a big waterfront land deal.   Could be all sorts of reasons for someone coming up with such rubbish, don't you think?

    Freemantle sea level does fluctuate 150 mm over a decade or so, as the oceanic current is affected by the larger-scale effects of El Nino & Indian Dipole oscillations ~ but that averages out to about zero alteration to the underlying mean sea level rise coming from AGW.   But I doubt it was that half-truth cherrypick which was what your misinformant was trying to trick you with.

    Best just to stick with the reliable mainstream science, rather than listen to a source similar to "a guy you met at the tavern".

  • Murry Salby's Correlation Conundrum

    Bob Loblaw at 06:24 AM on 17 February, 2020

    It looks like Max Polo's tenure here has ended, but for the benefit of anyone reading this far and not wanting to read the thread over at AndThenTheresPhysics, here is the lowdown on what Max gets wrong in his post above.

    Max does fine until he gets to the point where he breaks natural uptake into two components, Un = Unn + Una.

    • There is no physical basis to seperate those two fluxes. Max's equation is imply an algebraic distraction.
    • One might divide natural uptake into physically-real components such as ocean vs. terrestrial, biotic vs. chemical, etc. Each of these would react differently over time, because there are different process involved.
    • Each of those simply responds to the current atmospheric CO2 concentration, though - with no differentiation between CO2 that was emitted from natural sources, and CO2 that was emitted from anthropogenic sources.
    • Where Max says "Unn = “natural” carbon that would get absorbed by natural sinks in absence of human emissions", he is wrong. His Unn term is actually carbon that would get absorbed by natural sinks if atmospheric CO2 had not increased. Except CO2 has ncreased. And natural uptake changes as a result. It is now Max's Unn+Una, algebraically, but it is not two different things - it's just natural uptake.

    CO2 uptake varies with time. The Mauna Loa (Keeling) curve shows this clearly when the seasonal cycle is included. It does this for physical reasons, not algebraic ones.

    Mauna Loa CO2 measurements

    The rest of Max's algebraic manipulations are meaningless. There is only one "natural uptake" term that can be used: Max's Un. And Un>En, so nature is a net carbon sink, not a source.

    Max's "nature can be a net emitter" only applies when you fail to include a portion of the natural uptake, which is exacly what Max has done (his Una term). It's like saying "my gambling debts are not draining my bank account, because my bank account shows a net increase if I ignore my gambling expenses". There is a pyschololgical term for what that gambler is thinking.



  • 1934 - hottest year on record

    Eclectic at 16:18 PM on 1 February, 2020

    Map @109 , the chart at Figure 2.  shows a very strong warming from about 1975.   In the early part of that century, there were some colder years around 1910 ~ but no strong trend 1880 - 1930.

    I think you would need to do some careful statistical analysis, to demonstrate a trend there.   AFAICT, there's nothing much.   Taking a wider swathe of data, pre-1910 , shows a gradual & slight warming trend from mid-Nineteenth Century, but it's rather weak.   There are of course fluctuations, from clusters of large volcanic eruptions, or from slight variations in solar output or from El Nino events.  All part of the natural random variations . . . plus possibly (and dubiously) some multidecadal oceanic overturning currents (but these are only very slight in their effects ~ if they exist at all, and are not simply figments of imagination as humans indulge their tendency to see "shapes & patterns" in random data points).

    Map, I suspect you are "seeing" trends that don't exist.

    Weather tends to vary around the cyclic seasonal changes, because it is small-scale fluctuations against a global (hemispheric) background . . . but climate change requires major alteration in global-level gain (or loss) of heat energy over a sustained period of time.

    The important point with climate, is that climate does not change unless something causes it to change.  That's why the often-seen idea that our modern period of warmth is just a "rebound" from the Little Ice Age . . . is a complete nonsense.

    Map , if you wish to step back and look at temperatures of the entire Holocene period, then it becomes apparent that the world has been in a gentle cooling trend for roughly 5,000 years ~ which would have continued (owing to the Milankovitch orbital change) but for the modern strong warming from AGW.   The LIA and Medieval Warm Period were only very slight alterations of the underlying cooling trend.  But that long term cooling trend has been so gradual as to be invisible on the scale of a few decades or a few centuries.

    Your "2030 speculation" is baseless.  Even the idea of a possible Grand Solar Minimum is (if it were to occur) something that would be swamped by the ongoing warming effect of rising Greenhouse Gasses.

  • With the En-ROADS climate simulator, you can build your own solutions to global warming

    ilfark2 at 03:17 AM on 31 January, 2020

    Taxes are always convuluted, avoided, re-directed, sabotaged and distorted. "Serious Economist" is largely and oxymoron.

    Many have shown elsewhere, Paris won't get us to 1.5, more likely will result in 3 by 2100. Likely articles are metioned on this very website.

    They first few versions of any carbon tax in capitalist countries will rest heavily on the middle and lower classes. The argument that you can have a public trust that will be re-distributed is fantasy.

    Even if, by some a-historic miracle you got a Citizens Climate Lobby like plan through, it would take years to be effective. Likely decades. Think of all the plant and equipment relying on fossil fuels. Unless the taxes are incredibly high, companies will continue to use that equipment for years. Ditto households.

    If the taxes are high enough to force a quick change, companies would try to pass that on to customers, resulting in a supply side shock depression.

    If taxes and markets were used to make the change in 1859, when Tyndall discovered the way molecules absorb infra red radiation, it might have worked.

    The only way we'll substantially lower carbon output in a useful timeframe is either a WWII style mobilization, which means heavily controlled markets and means of production, or a complete replacement of capitalism and markets with a rational system of production and distribution.

    Carbon taxes have no place or use in either scenario.

    It's like saying, "alright, the Fascists might be coming across the ocean in a couple of years... let's raise taxes on consumer items in order to fund war production..."

  • Ocean acidification isn't serious

    Eclectic at 07:58 AM on 21 January, 2020

    Markoh , the answer is in the reply I gave you.  Please read it again, particularly the second paragraph.

    It is the combination of ocean chemistry status and the biological evolution of organisms to suit the status quo.

    Buffering effects within the ocean, plus the ability of organisms to evolve protein structures that fit their environment.  The calcite and aragonite forms of calcium are stabilized/supported by protein matrices, analogous to the way that protein matrices maintain the calcium crystals in your own teeth and bones.

    Given enough time, organisms can produce remarkable evolutionary adaptations.  Look at the chemistry of single-celled organisms that thrive on the deep surfaces of arctic/antarctic ice, at sub-zero temperatures (at which you yourself would be dead within the hour).  At the other end of the scale, are thermophile organisms that thrive in hot springs ~ at temperatures where your own body proteins would be cooked (literally cooked . . . into a frizzle of damaged proteins).

    Markoh, evolution takes time to get there.  It's the rapid changes which are damaging to individual species and the total ecology of lifeforms.

  • Ocean acidification isn't serious

    Eclectic at 21:55 PM on 20 January, 2020

    Markoh @84 , read this thread's OP  (both the basic and intermediate form) for some detailed information.  You will also find much of interest in the subsequent comments.

    The short answer is the combination of acidity & carbonate & bicarbonate balances, with the gradually-evolved capabilities of organisms to produce calcite and/or aragonite structures (bound in organic matrices that are properly suited to the conditions).  The rapidity of change in modern ocean chemistry ~ is the big problem.   The rapidity of change is outstripping the ability of organisms to evolve to meet the new circumstances.   Some organisms do okay, some are adversely affected . . . and the whole ocean ecology worsens (in the "short term" of a few thousand years).   It's not just the shell-forming creatures, but the huge pyramid of fish species etcetera resting on the calcium-users.

    If you are thinking of purely relevance to humans, then the problem is that we have a huge population ~ and where many have a high proportion of marine diet for protein.

    If I may quote from a NOAA fact sheet :-

    "Ocean acidification is an often overlooked consequence of humankind's release of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning.   Excess carbon dioxide enters the ocean and reacts with water to form carbonic acid, which decreases ocean pH ... and lowers carbonate ion concentrations.  Organisms such as corals, clams, oysters, and some plankton use carbonate ions to create their shells and skeletons.  Decreases in carbonate ion concentrations will make it difficult to form hard structures, particularly for juveniles.  Ocean acidification may cause some organisms to die, reproduce less successfully, or leave an area.  Other organisms such as seagrass and some plankton may do better in oceans affected by ocean acidification because they use carbon dioxide to photosynthesize, but do not require carbonate ions to survive.  Ocean ecosystem diversity and ecosystem services may therefore change dramatically from ocean acidification."   

    [my bold]

    The second problem : is that we don't yet have a firm idea of how bad it would all get, for humans as well as the ocean ecology.   And as the saying goes ~ it would foolish to gamble big-time with Planet-A.

    Markoh, I don't know whether you've see it, but there's an old movie "Soylent Green"  [a mixture of very good and very "corny"] . . . classic Sci-Fi . . . set in the "near future"  ~ grossly over-populated world, food shortages, major civil unrest, deteriorating farmlands (with armed guards).  Suicide is almost a patriotic duty.  In one of the final scenes, the hero learns a State Secret : the oceans are dying.

    That concept was an over-dramatic fantasy, for a 1973 movie.  But more worrying, today.

  • I had an intense conversation at work today.

    Doug_C at 10:04 AM on 15 January, 2020

    We see the current massive wildfire activity as associated with climate change because it is global in scale not local. And repeated.

    Claiming there was an isolated wildfire season 50 or 70 years in a limited geographical local that was larger in scale therefore the current spate of massive wildfires is not an indication of a changing climate is rational white noise.

    We don't just have the evidence of a changing Earth due to climate change from this global accelerated wildfire activity, we have all the other empirical evidence and all the theory learned over centuries to back it up. You just have to go through the volumous articles on this one site to totally refute claims that this vastly expanded wildfire activity in EurAsia, both Americas, Australia and other locations isn't linked to the very well support fact of how much heat we've added to the Earth mostly from burning fossil fuels.

    Just scroll up and check the heat equivalent meter on this page based on solid science and explain how we can have added 2,828,000,000 and counting Hiroshima bomb heat equivalents to the Earth since 1998 alone and not profoundly altered the way that weather and climate operates on Earth. Especially since most of that heat is going into the oceans which are the weather and climate drivers of the planet as they contain most of the heat in the ocean/atmosphere system and move most of it around the planet with ocean currents.

    This is happening, it's us and it's already devastating. Anyone living in Australia with the massive and deadly wildfires and a rapidly dying Great Barrier Reef should know this as well or better than anyone on the planet.

  • 2019 in climate science: A continued warming trend and 'bleak' research

    Cooper13 at 15:27 PM on 10 January, 2020

    @MA Rodger and @anticorncob6:

    Rodger- you are correct; looking at 1975 to 2018, where the increases have become fairly linear (likely because of the continually increasing forcing with higher GhG concentrations), the trend is absolutely 2x.

    We do need to be careful with cherry-picking a particular starting point, as that does alter the slopes somewhat. Choosing more like 50 years, 1968-2018 we get slopes of:

    +0.17°C/decade (+0.31°F/decade) for Land AND Ocean (global)

    +0.29°C/decade (+0.52°F/decade) for Land ONLY

    So, 2x isn't all that bad a guess, really. Certainly the land-amplification (which is just an average - it's not the same everywhere) is somewhere between 1.5x and 2x of the global number. If you're a conservative farmer, concerned about your livelihood, I'd be going with the 2x assumption and acting accordingly (e.g. making your legislative representatives aware that you CARE about this and want action taken to minimize it)

    Here are direct links to the page with those calculations, 1968-2019, as the pages will load with those selections saved:

    Land & Ocean

    Land ONLY

    So, my 'back of the napkin' guess in the first post may not be all that 'alarmist', the numbers indeed support it. Pass that along to people you encounter on this topic - perhaps SS will run a short post on this, as it's more about communicating the understanding than some magical revelation here. They will likely be able to cite sources which better clarify the background science, as well.


  • Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas

    KR at 16:08 PM on 3 January, 2020

    pbezuk: Relative humidity over land has decreased, as predicted by the models; the slower cooling of the oceans has shifted some humidity to the waters. The specific humidity, the total amount of water in vapor form, has on the other hand increased again as predicted, with resulting increases in precipitation and flooding. 

    Your post is simply wrong. 

  • CO2 lags temperature

    thejean at 09:42 AM on 13 December, 2019

    Hi Folks! Great site, learning Kt of CO2 info!

    On this particular topic, I do have some questions regarding CO2 solubility. CO2 solubility decreases with increasing temperature, we all know that. We also know it's in equlibrium with the ocean and atmosphere. However, I can't find any solid data indicating the actual soluble CO2 levels in the ocean.

    However, CO2 solubility is quite high and is above 300 ppm even at elevated temperatures. So, shouldn't our oceans be constantly absorbing CO2 and never truly be releasing it? I mean, a small temp rise would only release CO2 if we were at saturation (and I don't believe we are otherwise the pH of the ocean would be much lower). Also, once CO2 enters the ocean, it converts to carbonic acid and then bicarbonate (alkalinity). So, My understanding is that in order to release CO2 below saturation you decrease pH to convert bicarbonate to CO2 per the carbonate equilibrium.

    I guess what I am trying to figure out is why the ocean would release CO2 when it's aqueous concentration is well below it's solubility limits for the temperatures we are looking at?  I have modelled it and it seems I can easily get seawater to accept CO2 concentrations up to 1000 mg/L at ocean temps

    This brings me to my next question which is why the oceans would offgas when the concentrations never exceed 300 ppm historically (within the timeframe that is being considered in the graphic at the top of this topic) and the delta T never increased more than 4degC?

    Does anyone have a link to any good papers describing this in more detail with actual CO2 solubility charts and references to ocean pH and such? I have scoured the web and haven't found anything that I would be willing to take to the bank. I really want to understand better how this small temp rise would have been capable of releasing this much CO2 into the atmosphere) when most of this CO2 is almost immediately converted to bicarbonate and would require a substantial pH shift to drive it out of solution. I'm not syaing for a minute that this is not the case but clearly I am missing something and just want to learn...

  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #48, 2019

    John Hartz at 08:46 AM on 7 December, 2019

    Doug @13: Here's the "About" statement posted on the website of MIT's  Center for Global Change Science (CGCS). Note the final paragraph in particular:

    The Center for Global Change Science (CGCS) at MIT was founded in January 1990 to address fundamental questions about the global environment with a multidisciplinary approach. In July 2006 the CGCS became an independent Center in the School of Science. The Center’s goal is to improve the ability to accurately predict changes in the global environment.

    CGCS seeks to better understand the natural mechanisms in the ocean, atmosphere and land systems that together control the Earth’s climate, and to apply improved knowledge to problems of predicting global environmental change. The Center utilizes theory, observations, and numerical models to investigate environmental phenomena, the linkages among them, and their potential feedbacks in a changing climate.

    The Center builds on existing programs of research and education in the Schools of Science and Engineering at MIT. The interdisciplinary organization fosters studies on topics as varied as, for example, oceanography, meteorology, hydrology, atmospheric chemistry, ecology, biogeochemical cycling, paleoclimatology, applied math, data assimilation, computer science, and satellite remote sensing.

    CGCS sustains a program of discovery science with research on the natural processes in the global environment, concentrating on the circulations, cycles and interactions of water, air, energy, and nutrients in the Earth system.

    Parallel CGCS activities incorporate the insight gained into climate prediction models, and climate policy analysis, with the aim of providing it in a useful way to decision-makers confronting the coupled challenges of future food, energy, water, climate and air pollution (among others). The CGCS also interacts with complementary MIT efforts in the Environmental Solutions Initiative, the Energy Initiative, and the Earth Resources Laboratory.

    Given that cutting-edge research about carbon capture is occurring at MIT, you might want to nose around the CGS website to see if your question is being addressed. 

  • Video: Is CO2 actually dangerous?

    nigelj at 06:33 AM on 7 December, 2019

    OPOF @, I do agree to the extent the middle grounds people need a bit of a shock or jolt. The tipping point paper does that nicely, but at least it is science based and makes it clear boiling oceans are just a possibility.

    It's also interesting that the extinction rebellion people have resonated with the public in what looks like a largely positive way despite the scary and extreme name. I'm undermining my own argument a bit here, but I like to be open minded and not stubborn.

    But mistakes, hype and exaggeration does annoy me. It's possibly because I did a couple of years in quality assurance, in a management role, and it cultivates a nit picking sceptical attitude. I make no apologies for that.

    I think past a certain point exaggeration and stupid claims will have the reverse effect of whats intended. Ie self defeating. And while Manns claims are defensible, just, AOC was simply mistaken even if well intentioned and it undermines her many good contributions. The GND is definitely a big shock sort of policy, but that at least can be logically defended.

    If people cry "fire" too often people eventually stop listening. But the tipping points research is the right sort of shock doctrine, because its evolving and has a good foundation.

    Yes the slow steady kumbya style of the moderates is frustrating, but politics is politics. These people don't respond well when shouted at. They like to see evidence based reassoned argument, and not too much hype and emotional button pushing (like Trump does to people and it only really works well with his base).

  • It's cosmic rays

    Daniel Bailey at 06:22 AM on 4 December, 2019

    jmh530, the best available evidence we have is that there is no direct linkage between the sun’s output and cosmic rays impacting the Earth’s climate. Now that’s a broad statement, but let’s examine some more in-depth evidence on those individual components.

    Scientists use a metric called Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) to measure the changes in output of the energy the Earth receives from the Sun. And TSI, as one would expect given the meaning behind its acronym, incorporates the 11-year solar cycle AND solar flares/storms.

    The reality is, over the past 4 decades of significant global warming, the net energy forcing the Earth receives from the Sun had been negative. As in, the Earth should be cooling, not warming, if it was the Sun.

    It's not the sun

    The scientists at CERN designed an experiment called CLOUD to evaluate the potential impacts of cosmic rays on clouds and cloud nucleation (Cloud Condensing Nuclei = CCN).

    Per CLOUD director Kirkby:

    "At the present time we can not say whether cosmic rays affect the climate."

    Looking at the results of CLOUD, if cosmic rays were a significant factor in affecting our climate, the Earth should have been cooling, not warming. Instead 8 of the warmest 10 years have all occurred in the most recent 10 years.

    Erlykin et al 2013 - A review of the relevance of the ‘CLOUD’ results and other recent observations to the possible effect of cosmic rays on the terrestrial climate

    The problem of the contribution of cosmic rays to climate change is a continuing one and one of importance. In principle, at least, the recent results from the CLOUD project at CERN provide information about the role of ionizing particles in ’sensitizing’ atmospheric aerosols which might, later, give rise to cloud droplets. Our analysis shows that, although important in cloud physics the results do not lead to the conclusion that cosmic rays affect atmospheric clouds significantly, at least if H2SO4 is the dominant source of aerosols in the atmosphere. An analysis of the very recent studies of stratospheric aerosol changes following a giant solar energetic particles event shows a similar negligible effect. Recent measurements of the cosmic ray intensity show that a former decrease with time has been reversed. Thus, even if cosmic rays enhanced cloud production, there would be a small global cooling, not warming.”

    Modern CCN are pretty much insensitive to cosmic rays and changes in TSI from the Sun, compared to the very much larger anthropgenic and natural contributions (volcanoes, oceanic oscillations and wildfires):

    "New particle formation in the atmosphere is the process by which gas molecules collide and stick together to form atmospheric aerosol particles. Aerosols act as seeds for cloud droplets, so the concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere affects the properties of clouds. It is important to understand how aerosols affect clouds because they reflect a lot of incoming solar radiation away from Earth's surface, so changes in cloud properties can affect the climate.

    Before the Industrial Revolution, aerosol concentrations were significantly lower than they are today. In this article, we show using global model simulations that new particle formation was a more important mechanism for aerosol production than it is now. We also study the importance of gases emitted by vegetation, and of atmospheric ions made by radon gas or cosmic rays, in preindustrial aerosol formation.

    We find that the contribution of ions and vegetation to new particle formation was also greater in the preindustrial period than it is today.

    However, the effect on particle formation of variations in ion concentration due to changes in the intensity of cosmic rays reaching Earth was small."


    " cycle variations of ion concentration lead to a maximum 1% variation of CCN0.2% concentrations. This is insignificant on an 11 year timescale compared with fluctuations due to, for example, the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, variations in wildfires, or volcanoes."

    Gordon et al 2017 - Causes and importance of new particle formation in the present-day and preindustrial atmospheres

    And the coup de grace for cosmic rays, being proven to unable to significantly affect clouds and climate, is that CCN respond too weakly to changes in Galactic Cosmic Rays to yield a significant influence on clouds and climate.

    Pierce 2017 - Cosmic rays, aerosols, clouds, and climate: Recent findings from the CLOUD experiment

    Scientist Richard Alley pretty much killed the cosmic ray hypothesis here (the relevant part of the lecture starts at 42:00)

    "We had a big cosmic ray signal, and the climate ignores it. And it is just about that simple! These cosmic rays didn’t do enough that you can see it, so it’s a fine-tuning knob at best."

    To recap, the Laschamp excursion (the strongest cosmic ray event in the past 40,000 years) hammered climate for 2,550 years about 40,000 years ago. The flux of beryllium-10 produced by cosmic rays greatly increased as the Earth’s magnetic field weakened by 90%.

    Climate ignored it.

    Here is the chart he’s referring to, showing how the flux of beryllium-10 produced by cosmic rays greatly increased as the Earth’s magnetic field weakened by 90% about 40,000 years ago.

    It's not cosmic rays

    From the AR5, WG1, Chapter 7, p. 573:

    "Cosmic rays enhance new particle formation in the free troposphere, but the effect on the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei is too weak to have any detectable climatic influence during a solar cycle or over the last century (medium evidence, high agreement). No robust association between changes in cosmic rays and cloudiness has been identified. In the event that such an association existed, a mechanism other than cosmic ray-induced nucleation of new aerosol particles would be needed to explain it. {7.4.6}"

  • It's the sun

    Wibblefish at 22:30 PM on 27 November, 2019

    Reading though the comments, there are mentions of the cooling/warming effects of El Nina/Nino. Looking at this from a marine biologist perspective, I'd like to bring up the effects of climate change on tropical coral, particulary in the indian ocean and south pacific and how examining coral biodiversity records could be used to support AGW. Coral live between a fairly narrow temperature range. Extreme rises in temperature lead to bleaching and usually coincide with el nino events where vast bodies of warmer become trapped in the indian ocean and southern pacific. What we are seeing is a decline in biodiversity and massive bleaching events in the last 30 years, notable events in 1998, 2005 and 2017. Studying in the Maldives, there was evidence of coral recovery but ONLY for a few species compared to what can be found in historical records. Then the whole system got hit again in 2017 so back to square 1. To me, it is apparent that such a delicate ecosystem can be thriving for thousands of years and then hammered by prolonged, frequent, intense  el nino events in a short space of time is a smoking gun. The reversal of trade winds seems to hinge on a delicate energetic balance in the atmosphere. I don't know why it's difficult to comprehend that insulating energy would change the dynamics of a system.

  • SkS Analogy 20 - The Tides of Earth

    Alan Lowey at 14:54 PM on 10 November, 2019

    The Moon orbits in the same direction as the Earth rotates, prograde. Because the Earth rotates at a faster rate than the Moon's orbit, the tidal bulge appears to be ahead.

    I'm saying that if the Earth didn't rotate, the Moon would be ahead of the tidal bulge.

    The image I have in my head is a strong gravitational interaction between the innermost cores of the two bodies. In this scenario, there is a delay for the initial inner bulge to reach the surface. 

    Because every single schoolchild is taught that "the Moon pulls on the oceans" it's extremely difficult for the average person to comprehend any alternative explanation.

    Incidentally, in a book about the science within the Koran, they say that the tides are "Waves upon Waves upon Waves". This just happens to fit the alternative suggestion I'm trying to explain.




  • SkS Analogy 20 - The Tides of Earth

    Alan Lowey at 04:04 AM on 9 November, 2019

    I can't stand sloppy unscientific sentences such as "The sun and moon pull on the oceans" as described in the beginning of this topic. They do NOT! It's their gravitational interaction across the entire body of Mother Earth which changes the shape of the planet. It's this bulge which flexes the lithosphere. The bulge of the ocean floor pushes the ocean from beneath to create our daily tides. The person who wrote the intro doesn't understand the very basic nature of how our tides work.


  • It's a 1500 year cycle

    Alan Lowey at 20:28 PM on 7 November, 2019

    I'm NOT a climate change denier NOR an AGW denier but wish to express the logical conclusion that BOTH the 1470-year cycle AND man-made greenhouse gas emissions could be the drivers of modern era warming. I take Prof Brian Cox's point of view : The Issue With Climate Change, South China Morning Post, 23rd May 2019. He talks about the framework of science being our best understanding of how the world works. The quantitative amount of energy from gravity via the coriolis effect and via the Moon's gravitational interaction across the entire planet's body giving rise to the enormous power of ocean tides dissipating heat from the equator to the higher latitudes, is much greater than solar radiance combined with AGW. Why are these two driving forces of our climate not quantively compared? Why is gravity missing from the Global Warming Debate? 

    I'd be surprised if there's a single scientist in the IPCC that actually knows the ocean tides move due to the flexing of the Earth's lithosphere. The oceans move due to being pushed from the ocean floor. Nobody is measuring the mid-ocean to see whether deep ocean tidal mixing is making it cooler, for example. 


    People like Prof Brian Cox should also inform the public that gravity itself is under scrutiny within the physics community and that it's possible for new physics to have a major bearing on future climate modeling.

  • A small electric plane demonstrates promise, obstacles of climate-friendly air travel

    Rob Honeycutt at 05:37 AM on 25 October, 2019

    I keep thinking there should be an attempt to create a rocket assist system to enable electric aircraft to achieve greater range. Rockets can efficiently use oxygen/hydrogen mix without producing carbon emissions. 

    The initial climb to cruising altitude is the phase of flight that requires the most energy. If you could build a carrier system similar to what Scaled Composites used to put their small manned craft into space, perhaps that—as a rocket propelled carrier—could carry an electric aircraft up to a high cruise altitute from which to initiate the flight. The carrier craft would then fly back to the airport to refueled for the next flight.

    My other recent thoughts on the future of electric aviation is that, perhaps people need to get used to slower, more relaxing flights for long trips. If you could create an electric aircraft design that could make a transoceanic flight with an assist to cruise, slower flights might be what make that feasible. The economics of electric flight hold such a large advantage that it may be cost effective to give customers business-class style cabins and expect normal 12 hr flights to last 20 hrs instead. The additional 8 hrs could be very tolerable in a comfortable setting.

    Additional note: electric motors offer some clear advantages over fuel-based engines since both ICE and turnbines require air for combustion. At higher altitudes a great deal of additional energy is used to accelerate air into a chamber for combustion. There are efficiency losses for electric motors as well, but I believe it's limited to accelerating air for propulsion rather than propulsion and combustion.

  • Tipping Points: Could the climate collapse?

    ilfark2 at 00:10 AM on 22 October, 2019

    One should mention Richard Alley's work on abrupt climate change. Also note the above linked PNAS (from 2007 it looks like) mentions:

    “the qualitative change would appear beyond this millennium (e.g.,marinemethanehydrates...”

    but we're already possibly seeing more methane from the arctic as well as other parts of the ocean;

    they also mention permafrost likely being gradual (though they say <100 yrs)

    and of course it's easy to find many journal articles documenting how much faster various things are occurring than expected

    it seems clear, they don't know and won't be scientifically certain until it's likely too late (if it's not already too late... which they don't seem sure of either)

    point being, the idea of scientific methodical certainty is and has been misplaced in some senses... there were clarion calls in the nineteenth century by Darwin and other natural scientists, not about global warming per se, but that if we continued down the industrial (coal burning, forest clearing) path, we'd end the habitable world...

    what was their proof that the world wasn't big enough to handle humans' collective assault? nothing that would pass a sort of vigorous lab experimental approach, rather "look at what has been left..."

    critics of course said the earth would regerate after clear cutting and could handle the smoke from the coal (arrhenius pointed out the CO2 would warm the earth, but being a chemist, and not understanding ecology in any way, assumed more warmth would be good)...

    so here we are again... no, we can't say when and how much methane will be released from the oceans... so far, in the warmer regions, various organisms intercept it, but a few places these have been overwhelmed... sure the yaley climate connection says don't worry about methane release since it would take the shallow arctic oceans warming by, i forget, 5 to 7 C for them to be released... yet we've seen unprecented warm pacific water incursion into the arctic this summer...

    so how long do we have until the permafrost, marine methane and other feedbacks occur? it seems we don't know, and won't know for a while

    so, we're driving 80 mph (sorry i'm amurican) in fog on a plain... someone radios there's a cliff ahead, though they aren't sure how far or how large the drop is

    time for at least a WWII mobilization, better a reorganization of society along democratic lines (e.g., Free Catalonia of the 1930s).

  • Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas

    Eclectic at 22:59 PM on 11 October, 2019

    JamesKL , the answer is more complex, because there are different cases.

    For the classic "hot desert" (e.g. the Sahara, near the Tropic of Cancer) then it's true that the adjacent equatorial forests have a higher temperature at night.   During the daytime, the forests are cooler ~ presumably from the evaporative cooling effect ~ but I stand to be corrected if you have some good official data saying otherwise.  Since the air temperature is measured at 200cm altitude, you get variation according to shading from the forest canopy versus open areas of (moist) grasses/shrubs.   But then we get to the question of day/night averaging & how often in 24 hours the temperature is measured for calculating the average.  And seasonal or summer vs winter average temperatures for desert/forest.

    Then there's the case of a "cold desert" (e.g. the Gobi in Mongolia) compared with adjacent coastal forests having much higher rainfall.   The Gobi is indeed cold at night, and the coastal forests warmer.   But during the daytime . . . do you have any official temperature figures?  I could imagine if you scouted around, you could find some contradictory desert vs forest (or grassland) cases.  

    Difficult enough to find nicely matched cases, of similar latitude / altitude / ocean proximity / or exposure to prevailing or seasonal winds & rainfall.  (Monsoonal rain, or annually well-distributed rain.)

    To boil your question down, and over-simplify : you have to balance daytime evaporation in well-vegetated areas, versus nighttime cooling in dry (deserty) low-humidity areas.   So I am not giving a black-and-white answer to your original question ~ but I hope you can take consideration of the underlying physical principles involved.

  • How the Greenland ice sheet fared in 2019

    sgbotsford at 00:57 AM on 11 October, 2019

    @william In #6:  

    You could also get increased snow too however.  Some years ago, there was a pre-computer model of ice age triggering that was based on an open arctic ocean.  

    * Increased evaporation led to increased snow fall on surrounding land.

    * Ungava penninsula has later springs and earlier falls.

    * Increased albedo makes Ungava area cooler.

    * Two randomly cooler summers in a row result in not all the snow melting.

    * Because ground is pre chilled, snowfall accumulates faster.  

    * Cold air moving from the snowfield to surrounding area prepares that area for snow pack.

    At the time they figured a permanent snowfield could advance at about 200 km per year.

    No idea if this notion is still credible.

    But:  An arctic ocean will evaporate whenever it's open — slower winter, as I assume at least pan ice will form.  But if the arctic is open while greenland is still 2 miles thick (and high) then soggy arctic air will cool and drop lots of snow.  


    If the latent heat comes from the formation of dew/frost, then your figures are correct.  But it may form in the air, which means it's heat that ends up being radiated to space, no?  If it comes down as snow, it melts nothing.  If it comes down as rain, it melts some ice depending on the rain temperature.

  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #40, 2019

    nigelj at 19:19 PM on 10 October, 2019

    Postkey @18, while it's fair comment that mineral reserves are of course limited, the numbers you quote on mineral reserves do not describe the complete picture, and they vastly underestimate reserves. The information you quote is  based on known land based reserves of these materials at current prices and current quantities extracted.

    It's almost 100% certain more discoveries will be made, and there are many more known reserves that are not currently economic to extract, and the data you quote omits billions of tons of each of these metals dissolved in sea water (and several have already been extracted in experimental operations at reasonable cost).

    We are not going to run out of metals this century or next century, even at higher use rates than presently, and of course metals can be recycled almost forever. There are enough minerals for  solar and wind power and electric vehicles etcetera and other applications. List of some of the minerals in sea water and their concentrations.

    "Altogether, there are some 50 quadrillion tons (that is, 50 000 000 000 000 000 t) of minerals and metals dissolved in all the world’s seas and oceans. To take just uranium, it is estimated that the world’s oceans contain 4.5-billion tons of the energy metal."

    Of course we have to be sure not to waste resources and to get population growth rates down, but population growth is falling in many places anyway.

  • Wind energy is a key climate change solution

    FalseProgress at 08:05 AM on 18 September, 2019

    The wind power issue has taught me that purist environmentalists (protecting nature intrinsically) are far rarer than I assumed (maybe 5% vs. 15% as a guess). Today's environmentalism seeks to sustain modern life with sprawling forms of non-dense energy, and nature's physical grandeur is the big sacrifice. There's also a refusal to admit that energy gains and CO2-reduction are very weak in terms of vast acreage needed to create them. I call it Blight for Naught.

    Today's "environmentalists" have decided (for everyone else) that scenery no longer matters. They have to know it's being destroyed, but post deceptive photos ("Oh yuck, look......a wind turbine" - never a whole ridge ruined by them) as they claim to illustrate new vs. old scars. They also won't admit that wind turbines only add to visible damage, formerly the domain of fossil fuel extraction, mining, logging, etc. (plenty of logging is done for mountaintop wind). Nothing is being improved in terms of natural aesthetics. We just see more machines, less nature, and corporate lingo like "installed capacity" to describe ruined scenery.

    Here's a far more accurate view of wind energy sprawl: mountaintop desecration, ocean views lost, roads & construction

    The total human footprint has grown enormously since the late 1990s when Big Wind took off. There are now over 355,000 wind turbines on the planet, and Mark Jacobson & Co. would like to see over 10 times that many, which radically increases today's "acceptable" bird & bat carnage.

    The topic of dying bats is dodged several times in these comments, and the species of birds killed by wind turbines isn't the same as what cats take out, but we're told it can never matter because we've got to coddle this thing called "civilization" at any cost. Big Wind supporters have merely sold out to a new industry and gravy train. That's all I ask them to admit at this point.

  • Climate denier scientists think these 5 arguments will persuade EU and UN leaders

    nigelj at 07:05 AM on 13 September, 2019

    One thing that stands out in the denialists letter is they hammer their 'claim' that natural cycles are behind the recent warming trend, and the letter does it in several different ways, for exampe in the first two points they make. Imho this is their key lever for creating doubt used throughout the denialosphere because if they can convince the public "something else is  responsible" (or could be responsible), they dont need other arguments too much. It's using a scapegoat just as certain politicians do on various other matters. Therefore its really important to shoot down this argument and make it the number one priority.

    In that respect the response made in the article is good, but rather wordy and rhetorical. If we challenge the denialists, its important to get the message across very succinctly and clearly that scientists have looked in extreme depth at all the natural cimate cycles, such as sunspots and ocean cycles and they have been in neutral or cooling phases for the past 50 years so cannot adequately explain the warming trend, while the increasing greenhouse effect does.

  • Sea level rise is exaggerated

    Daniel Bailey at 00:43 AM on 10 September, 2019

    As MA sagely notes, Chen 2014 is dated and newer studies with later data show an acceleration in SLR and with the mass component also increasing.

    Per Yi et al 2017 - Acceleration in the Global Mean Sea Level Rise: 2005–2015:

    "Global mean sea level rise has been accelerating for more than 100 years, and the acceleration in the last two decades seems to further increase"


    "Our results show that the acceleration during the last decade (0.27 ± 0.17 mm/yr2 ) is about 3 times faster than its value during 1993–2014. The acceleration comes from three factors, that is, 0.04 ± 0.01 mm/yr2 (~15%) by land ice melting, 0.12 ± 0.06 mm/yr2 (~44%) by thermal expansion of the seawater, and 0.11 ± 0.02 mm/yr2 (~41%) by declining land water storage."


    "we demonstrate that current advances in satellite gravimetry, and marine in situ measurements enable us to detect the acceleration in global sea level rise from 2005 to 2015, 11 years in total"


    Other studies:

    Cazenave et al 2018 - Global Sea Level Budget 1993–Present

    "Ocean thermal expansion, glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica contribute by 42%, 21%, 15% and 8% to the global mean sea level over the 1993-present. We also study the sea level budget over 2005-present, using GRACE-based ocean mass estimates instead of sum of individual mass components. Results show closure of the sea level budget within 0.3 mm/yr. Substantial uncertainty remains for the land water storage component, as shown in examining individual mass contributions to sea level."

    Cazenave et al 2018 - Contemporary sea level changes from satellite altimetry: What have we learned? What are the new challenges?

    "Most recent studies (e.g., Dieng et al., 2017a, Ablain and Jugier, 2017b, Chen et al., 2017a, Chen et al., 2017b, Nerem et al., 2018b, WCRP, 2018) show that the GMSL is accelerating, and that this acceleration mostly arises from accelerated Greenland and Antarctica ice mass loss."

    SLR Components, p. 1645, Figure 3:

    SLR Components

    Other salient studies:

    1. Dieng et al 2017 - New estimate of the current rate of sea level rise from a sea level budget approach
    2. Ablain and Jugier 2017
    3. Chen et al 2017a - The increasing rate of global mean sea-level rise during 1993–2014
    4. Chen et al 2017b - Groundwater Storage Changes: Present Status from GRACE Observations

    On 2018 sea level rise acceleration:

    "Global sea level rise is not cruising along at a steady 3 mm per year, it's accelerating a little every year, like a driver merging onto a highway, according to a powerful new assessment led by CIRES Fellow Steve Nerem. He and his colleagues harnessed 25 years of satellite data to calculate that the rate is increasing by about 0.08 mm/year every year—which could mean an annual rate of sea level rise of 10 mm/year, or even more, by 2100.

    "This acceleration, driven mainly by accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise by 2100 as compared to projections that assume a constant rate—to more than 60 cm instead of about 30." said Nerem, who is also a professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. "And this is almost certainly a conservative estimate," he added. "Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years. Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that's not likely."

    Also per Nerem et al 2018:

    "the observed acceleration will more than double the amount of sea-level rise by 2100 compared with the current rate of sea-level rise continuing unchanged. This projection of future sea-level rise is based only on the satellite-observed changes over the last 25 y, assuming that sea level changes similarly in the future. If sea level begins changing more rapidly, for example due to rapid changes in ice sheet dynamics, then this simple extrapolation will likely represent a conservative lower bound on future sea-level change."

    Nerem 2018

  • The North Atlantic ocean current, which warms northern Europe, may be slowing

    Human 2932847 at 18:01 PM on 4 September, 2019

    This Scientific American summary goes into the debate over Seager's stuff. It's from 2013 and so has it been superceded ? It says -

    "recent modeling studies with higher resolution of ocean currents suggest that fresh Arctic meltwater may pour mostly into currents that are more restricted to the coastlines and there-fore have less influence on the open ocean, where downwelling primarily occurs. Even if freshwater significantly affected the amount of waters downwelled in the North Atlantic, it turns out to be highly unlikely that this change would effectively shut down the Gulf Stream. A shutdown is unlikely because the path and the strength of the Gulf Stream depend largely on the speed and direction of the large-scale midlatitude winds."

    Which doesn't sound like much of a threat.

    What would be a good source for the latest theories about the Gulf Stream, AMOC etc where these questions are more settled ?

  • Residence Time and Prof Essenhigh

    daveburton at 21:52 PM on 25 August, 2019

    Eclectic wrote, "your heated-wire analogy is even wider of the mark..."

    It is just a simple example illustrating a general principle. It's how negative feedback systems work. If the removal rate increases with system output level, that's a negative feedback mechanism. A constant forcing input will then result in a plateau at "equilibrium," where the negative feedback has caught up with the constant input.

    That's true when the input forcing is energy added to your toaster via electricity, and the negative feedback mechanism is radiative & convective heat loss from a nichrome wire.

    It's also true when the input forcing is CO2 added to the atmosphere, and the negative feedback is CO2 removal from the atmosphere via dissolution in the oceans and terrestrial plant uptake.

    The principle is true regardless of whether the negative feedback is linear or nonlinear. For the nichrome wire example, there are actually three significant negative feedbacks, all with different transfer functions: radiative heat loss goes up in proportion to the 4th power of the temperature relative to 0K, convective heat loss goes up in approximate proportion to the temperature difference between the wire and ambient air, and the resistance of the wire also goes up with temperature. The fact that all three have different-shaped transfer functions doesn't affect the conclusion: because they are negative feedbacks, a constant input (forcing) must result in a plateuing output, gradually approaching equilibrium.

    Eclectic continued, "The design of the Simple Model fits at best tangentially with physical reality."

    It fits extremely well for the period for which we have accurate measurements:


    Eclectic continued, "nor do we have the luxury of time to sit back and observe another 40 years or so, as the Simple Model diverges from the (complex) real world."

    Well, I obviously don't, at my age.

    But mankind does have that luxury, and you should not expect Roy's Simple Model to diverge much from reality over the next 40 years. It is the "long, fat tail" (due to increased carbon levels in non-atmospheric reservoirs) which is not modeled by the Simple Model. Regardless of what happens with CO2 emission rates, CO2 removal over the next 40 years will be dominated by the removal mechanisms which the Simple Model models well.

    Eclectic continued, "the paleo evidence demonstrates the falsity of Spencer's too-simple Simple Model."

    All models are false, but some are useful. Roy's Simple Model is very useful. It is a very good fit to measured reality, and it will continue to be a good fit as long as the CO2 removal mechanisms which are currently most important continue to be most important. When CO2 levels drop below 300 ppmv, and the accumulation of anthropogenic carbon in non-atmospheric reservoirs becomes an important factor affecting atmospheric CO2 levels, then his Simple Model will diverge from reality.

    MA Roger wrote, "Yes, the oceans are big. Yes, the oceans contain contain sixty-times the carbon found in the pre-industrian atmosphere (which was in full equilibrium with the oceans). But what has that got to do with your "fact"?"

    Mankind has increased CO2 level in the atmosphere by about 47%. We've increased carbon content in the oceans by only about 0.4%.

    So, why does that matter? Because it is that accumulation of carbon in non-atmospheric reservoirs that is not modeled by Roy's Simple Model. In other words, his Simple Model assumes the other carbon reservoirs have infinite capacity.

    That's a pretty good simplifying assumption, as long as the anthropogenic increase in atmospheric CO2 dwarfs the anthropogenic increase in carbon in other reservoirs. It will diverge from approximating reality during the "long, fat tail," when the anthropogenic increment in atmospheric carbon dioxide no longer dwarfs the anthropogenic increase in carbon in other reservoirs.

    MA Roger wrote, "it is very odd that they would ever allow atmospheric levels to remain constant while the ocean absorbed a large constant flux of dissolving CO2."

    Atmospheric levels will remain constant when transfer of carbon to the oceans and other carbon reservoirs removes CO2 from tha air as quickly as anthropogenic emissions are adding it. (They're currently removing it only about half as fast as we're adding it.)

    MA Roger asked, "Have you actually examined the workings of Spencer's model?"

    Of course.

    MA Roger wrote, "If you set the future anthropogenic emissions to a fixed value... atmospheric CO2 levels tend to a constant value"

    Which is, of course, correct.

    MA Roger wrote, "while negative emissions, suck out 15Gt(C)/yr and by AD2191 the atmosphere is entirely denuded of CO2. daveburton, doesn't that strike you as "very odd"?"

    Not at all. If you start with a physically impossible assumption, you get a physically impossible result. The only thing I can think of which could possibly remove a net 15 GtC/year from the atmosphere when CO2 levels are below 300 ppmv, is some idiot genetically engineering a fast-growing, fast-propagating C4 tree.

    Please don't do that! The Earth doesn't need another K-T Extinction!

  • Residence Time and Prof Essenhigh

    daveburton at 00:54 AM on 24 August, 2019

    Eclectic wrote, " ...the 500ppm figure that the model indicates cannot be exceeded under Dr Spencer's stated conditions of artificiality."

    Dr. Spencer's simple model does not say that 500 ppmv can never be exceeded under any circumstances. But if emissions are held steady at 10 Gt/year, atmospheric CO2 level will level-off at just shy of 500 ppmv.

    That should not surprise you. It is a natural result of the historically-verified fact that when CO2 levels go up, so do CO2 removal rates. That simple fact, alone, even without reference to a particular quantified model, ensures that a constant CO2 emission rate must result in a plateau in CO2 level.

    Do you have an electric stove or toaster? Even though you keep pumping electricity into the nichrome wires, the temperature levels off, and ceases to rise. That's simply because the rate of energy loss rises with the temperature. So the temperature plateaus as it approaches equilibrium: the level where incoming and outgoing energy flows are balanced.

    Since the rate of CO2 loss from the atmosphere rises with the CO2 level, the CO2 level must plateau, as it approaches the level at which the flows of CO2 into and out of the atmosphere are the same.

    MA Rodger wrote, "This is plainly nonsense. Where does all this extra carbon accumulate?"

    It's not nonsense, it's fact.

    The extra carbon migrates to other reservoirs, like the oceans (the biggest), soil, marine sediments, etc.  Those reservoirs dwarf the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and, importantly, dwarf the amount of carbon available in recoverable fossil fuels.

    MA Rodger wrote, "if humanity restricts itself to pumping 10Gt(C)/year ... continuing year-after-year for ever-&-ever-&-ever..."

    Fossil fuels are a finite resource. So we obviously will not (cannot!) continue to emit 10 GtC/yr from fossil fuels "for ever and ever."

    Have you never wondered why most people assume CO2 levels won't ever exceed 600-800 ppmv? It's because for CO2 levels to continue to rise at their current rate, CO2 emissions must continue to accelerate — and resource constraints ensure that that can't continue forever. So the rise in CO2 levels must  taper off.

    What's more, even if CO2 emissions accelerate fast enough to maintain the current growth rate in atmospheric CO2 level, that would mean CO2's climate forcing trend will fall below linear. Since the warming effect of CO2 is logarithmically diminishing, in order to maintain a linearly increasing temperature forcing from CO2, the growth rate of CO2 levels in the atmosphere must increase approximately exponentially.

    That is, in fact, what has happened, for the last forty years or so. CO2 emissions have increased so dramatically that CO2 levels have increased on an approximately exponential curve, so the temperature forcing from rising CO2 levels has increased at an approximately linear rate (actually slightly more than linear). You can see that in a graph of log(CO2). Notice how straight the graph is for the last forty years:
    CO2 atmospheric dry molar fraction (ppmv), 1800-2019 (preliminary), log scale

  • Residence Time and Prof Essenhigh

    daveburton at 10:31 AM on 23 August, 2019

    Trying again, with explicit line-breaks added...

    Mr. Moderator, I meant no offense, but I'm not aware of any comment policy that I violated, and I do not understand why you deleted so much of my comment.

    MA Rodger, here's where the "about fifty year" practical residence/adjustment time comes from. Well, actually, a number of scientists have independently calculated approximately the same figure, but this is how I did it.

    Start with the observation that the rate at which natural systems (oceans & terrestrial biosphere, mainly) remove CO2 from the air is governed chiefly by the CO2 level in the air.  When the CO2 level is higher, so is the removal rate. When the CO2 level is lower, so is the removal rate.

    Some people think the removal rate is governed by the emission rate, and that it's necessarily "about half" (leaving an "airborne fraction" which is also about half). They are mistaken. There is no physical mechanism by which any of the major contributors to the removal rate could be governed by the emission rate. It is the CO2 level, not the CO2 emission rate, which primarily governs the removal rate.

    For the oceans, the removal mechanism is dissolution into surface water per Henry's Law, and then then transport to the ocean depths by currents and calcifying coccolithophores, and complex chemistry which is beyond my ken.

    For the terrestrial biosphere it is "greening."

    AR5 estimates that the terrestrial biosphere removes about (2.5/9.2) = 27% [p. 6-3] or 29% [Fig 6.1] of anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, each year, and that the oceans remove another 26% [Fig 6.1]. (There are wide error bars on those numbers, but the ≈55% sum has narrower error bars than the two addends have.)

    Of course, other things also affect the CO2 removal rate, as is obvious, for example, from the detectable effect of very large volcanic erruptions on measured CO2 levels. But the most important factor governing the CO2 removal rate from the atmosphere is clearly the CO2 level in the atmosphere.

    Those numbers are known, with fair precision. For the last sixty years we have very good records of both atmospheric CO2 levels and production/use rates of fossil fuels & cement (from which can quantify the main sources of anthropogenic CO2 emissions).

    From those data we can calculate how much CO2 was removed from the atmosphere by natural sinks (oceans, biosphere, etc.), each year.

    Since we also know the atmospheric CO2 level each year, we can easily build a spreadsheet, and fit a curve, showing the approximate net rate of CO2 removal as a function of the CO2 level.

    Dr. Roy Spencer did that, and found it is very closely approximated by a very simple function, which you can read about here:

    Using Dr. Spencer's "simple model," I wrote a tiny Perl program to simulate the effect on atmospheric CO2 level of a sudden cutoff of CO2 emissions. Counting 280 ppmv as "pre-industrial," 63% of the anthropogenic CO2 is gone from the atmosphere in 54 years, and 2/3 is gone in 60 years:


    # estimate CO2 removal rate in ppmv/yr as a function of CO2 level in ppmv,
    # per Dr. Roy Spencer's "simple model"
    # ref:
    # of-the-atmospheric-co2-budget/
    sub removal_rate {
      local($co2level) = shift;
      local($removalrate) = 0;
      local($co2elevation) = $co2level - 295.1;
      local($ratio) = 47.73;
      if ($co2level <= 295.1) {
        $removalrate = 0;
      } else {
        $removalrate = $co2elevation * 0.0233;
      return $removalrate;

    $co2level = 410;
    $year = 2019;
    print "Simulated CO2 level decline, with level starting at
    $co2level ppmv in $year, and zero emissions:\n";
    while ($co2level > 300) {
      printf("$year %5.1f\n", $co2level);
      $year += 1;
      $removalrate = &removal_rate( $co2level );
      $co2level -= $removalrate;

    Here's the result of a simulation run, with CO2 starting at 410 ppmv in 2019, and zero emissions:

    2019 410.0
    2020 407.3
    2021 404.7
    2022 402.2
    2023 399.7
    2024 397.2
    2025 394.8
    2026 392.5
    2027 390.3
    2028 388.0
    2029 385.9
    2030 383.8
    2031 381.7
    2032 379.7
    2033 377.7
    2034 375.8
    2035 373.9
    2036 372.1
    2037 370.3
    2038 368.5
    2039 366.8
    2040 365.1
    2041 363.5
    2042 361.9
    2043 360.4
    2044 358.8
    2045 357.3
    2046 355.9
    2047 354.5
    2048 353.1
    2049 351.7
    2050 350.4
    2051 349.1
    2052 347.9
    2053 346.6
    2054 345.4
    2055 344.3
    2056 343.1
    2057 342.0
    2058 340.9
    2059 339.8
    2060 338.8
    2061 337.8
    2062 336.8
    2063 335.8
    2064 334.9
    2065 333.9
    2066 333.0
    2067 332.2
    2068 331.3
    2069 330.4
    2070 329.6
    2071 328.8
    2072 328.0
    2073 327.3 <== residence/adjustment time (e-folding time) = 54 years (using 280 ppmv as base)
    2074 326.5
    2075 325.8
    2076 325.1
    2077 324.4
    2078 323.7
    2079 323.0 <== two-thirds of the anthropogenic CO2 is gone in 60 years (using 280 ppmv as base)

    Of course we know that this simple model would not accurately model the "long, fat tail," with CO2 levels under 300 ppmv. But the point I made previously is that, for practical purposes, that doesn't matter, because we all know that CO2 levels that low are harmless.

  • Millions of times later, 97 percent climate consensus still faces denial

    Doug_C at 01:50 AM on 20 August, 2019

    MA Rodger @20

    Quantum Mechanics are the most powerful tool we now have to understand physical interactions at the level relevant to this issue. Before we had QM there was very strong evidence that carbon dioxide is the most important persistent gas in the atmosphere for moderating the global climate. After the development of QM that became far stronger as we then had a detailed explaintion as to why that has allowed experimentation to a degree that simply wasn't possible before.  

    And the science on carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and its intimate link to global climate got stronger as more data was produced.

    My point about uncertainty is it is being misrepresented by the denialist campaign, not placed in its proper context. There will never be 100% certainty on global warming in scientific terms because there is always room left to expand and adapt scientific theory as new information is acquired.

    The standards of scientific certainty are far higher than in any other discipline, in legal terms the confidence on the link between CO2 emissions and the serious impacts have been recognized at the highest level a long time ago.

    Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency


    The use of uncertainty in the case of global warming denial has nothing to do with advancing our understanding of the physical aspect of this phenomena, it is almost entirely political and economic in nature. It is simply not valid scientific skepticism.

    I use the term existential in regards to global warming in the threat to the existence of human technological culture and society on a global level and the threat to a significant portion of the existing biosphere that is already in the process of accelerated extinction as climate conditions change far faster than many species can adapt to or migrant along with.

    How can you refer to a process that is already well acknowledged to be underway as looney fringe?

    We are already seeing massive dieoffs in the oceans in some of the most important ecosystems, if fully half the Great Barrier Reef system dies off in two years with a projection of almost all coral reefs systems and their diverse biotas gone by mid century, is that not a signficant loss of biodiversity from that one source. 

    Plus the research showing many insects populations in rapid decline, it's at an estimated 2.5% per year now. Many avian species are in rapid decline as well. 

    We now have an estimate of 1 million species at risk of extinction, that would have a profound impact on the overall biosphere.

    Keep in mind that global warming and climate change is not taking place in isolation, it is the major human impact on the physical and natural systems on the Earth. But is taking place in the context of rapid deforestation of much of the worlds rain and temperate forests. In conjunction with a removal of a huge amount of species from the ocean for food with an equally massive polluting of the ocean environments.

    Plus everything else we are doing to replace and remove those natural systems that make complex life possible on Earth in the quantity and diversity it currently has.

    The truly loony fringe are those who think we can keep doing this for any longer without causing a systemic biological collapse.

    Climate change denial is probably the most irrational organized behavior of our species yet.

  • There is no consensus

    Rob Honeycutt at 09:21 AM on 10 August, 2019


    "That the AGW hypothesis is true and it will have increasing implications on global weather patterns? Or that there it is a catastrophic situation and human must immediately and completely restructure our social and economic systems if the species is to survive?

    Why is this an either/or question? Can they not both be true?

    Think of climate change impacts as a sliding scale that vary based on our total emissions. Within a reasonable range of uncertainty, probably the best understood elements of AGW are the basics of radiative forcing and the response in global mean temperature. The concensus is that we'll likely see about 2.8°C of warming for each doubling of CO2 over preindustrial levels. I think almost every scientist working in the field would agree with that statement.

    We also know for certain, the more we push the system, the more damage we're ultimately going to see. Again, that's not a controversial statement for scientists.

    What you're doing, though, is running off into hyperbole. I don't think many scientists would agree that we must "...immediately and completely restructure our social and economic systems if the species is to survive." Our species is likely to survive whatever happens. We're extraordinarily adaptable. But, most of the natural world that we rely on to sustain 7+ billion people on the planet is not nearly as adaptable as we are.

    Therein lay the problem. Yes, if we continue to burn everything we can get dig out of the earth, most scientists will likely agree that would probably mean a total collapse of modern civilization. Lots of death, destruction and suffering.

    Can we avoid that? Yes, of course. We are going to see significant challenges and costs due to our emissions so far. We are already seeing very good signs of progress with the cost of wind and solar continuing to fall. But there are so many more challenges we're going to see.

    Nothing I'm saying here is controversial, and I believe this would all fall within the definition of the "scientific consensus on AGW." 

    Here's what should give you the most concern about all this: thermal inertia.

    I hope you agree that we are now seeing many of the impacts of climate change starting to emerge. Melting ice sheets, extreme weather events, heat waves, etc. Now, consider that there is a 30 year lag in the climate system since most of the heat goes into the world's oceans. That heat takes time to come into equilibrium with the land, ice and atmosphere. Thus the impacts we're seeing today are the result of where CO2 levels were some 30 years ago. 

    If we were to stop all carbon emissions tomorrow the planet would continue to warm through the middle of this century. If we're seeing impacts already you can bet your bottom dollar they're going to start getting a lot worse over the coming three decades. Best case scenario says we'll be able to bring emissions to zero by ~2050. That means continued warming through 2080 at a minimum.

    Also consider that, in the past at 450ppmv CO2 levels, there were no ice sheets on this planet. The planet was too warm to sustain them. It'll take another 1000 years to melt them entirely, but we're talking about sea levels rising to up to 70m over the coming centuries. That's a completely different planet than we currently live on. No Florida at all. It's gone. LA, SF, NYC, Tokyo, and 100's of other cities. All under water. 

    It's not the end of our species but replacing entire cities ain't gonna be cheap. The better investment is to reduce our carbon emissions as quickly as we can and keep CO2 levels as low as we possibly can. That's an enormous task. It's one that needs to happen fast.

    Again, none of this is controversial. Gore, DiCaprio and Thunberg are not scientists but they are doing their level best to help convey to the world what is overwhelmingly agreed in the scientific community.

  • Climate's changed before

    MA Rodger at 22:56 PM on 30 July, 2019

    TVC15 @770,
    Well, let that be a lesson for you!!
    Denialism isn't logical. It turns folk into swivel-eyed loons.

    To correct his nonsense-
    ♣ It was 3 million years ago (not 2) that North & South America collided and joined up, a process that did kick off the Arctic glaciation which then resulted in c3 million years of ice ages. And over tha last 1 million years the ice ages were significantly bigger. Presumably the present warming that is bringing this 3-million-year-period to an end can be blamed on the collision of the USSR and the Republic of China with the United States of America, these all constituting significantly large land masses.
    ♣ You probaly could argue the Arctic was ice-free 100,000 years ago but only through the peak of the summer melt season (as in the Arctic Ocean having the levels of summer ice we would declare today to be ice-free).
    ♣ 15,000 years ago we were still coming out of the last ice age. We were out nearer 10,000 years ago (as the graphed ice core data clearly shows).
    Ice Core Temperatures
    ♣ The extreme global temperature changes since the Last Glacial Maximum were nothing like "10-15 degrees C" except at a regional level (ie Greenland). And the period over which these increases occurred (the data graphed shows two large sudden Greenland increases in the last 20,000 years - +12ºC at 14.5kybp  & +9ºC at 11.5kypb - which were not 10-year periods of increase but 200-year periods. I don't think the ice cap volumes exist in the northern hemisphere to achieve a repeat performance today.
    ♣ The relative temperature of different interglacials has been discussed in this thread before and so we know the swivel-eyed loon is having difficulty hearing this particular message. So, yes, we do think he is "just being crazy" and that craziness is why he has such difficulty accepting the science and its implications.
    ♣ With regard to emisions controls, we can, of course, treat all people on Earth equally as the denialist wishes. The science says that anthropogenic CO2 emissions of more than 700Gt(C) will be bad and with 7.7 billion folk living on the planet, that would be an allowance of 91t(C) per head(historical) ('historical' as your allowance-use is handed down from previous generations).
    So let's calculate that allowance using Global Carbon Project figures and present-day population. Note these GCP territorial emission data only go back to 1959. Getting full historical figures would be possible (& correcting for increasing population could be factored in) but the general result will not change. That would mean that China still had an outstanding carbon allowance of 54t(C) per head, India 82t(C)/head while the good old USA has exceded its allowance and so has to pay back 238t(C)/head into the collective kitty. If full historical emissions were included, the US pay-back would be greater still, not qute as great as the UK pay-back if taken to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. (From 1959 the UK pay-back is a trifling 47t(C)/head). Luxembourg from 1959 has a pay-bacl 0f 199t(C)/head but would be the country facing the biggest carbon-emissions pay-back with full historic figures.

    Denial is a sad thing to behold. Denialist folk become happy to dismiss the evidence witout any assessment of what they are ignoring. It is simply done. "The IPCC assessment reports? A complete pack of lies!!"
    More telling is the misuse of the remiaining information that you do accept. As you are ignoring whole swathes of actual data, your sources tend to be limited and adjusting the findings beyond that limited evidence becomes a necessity. So some, no all previous ice ages were warmer, golly, 10 degrees warmer, 20, 100 degrees warmer. We should be grateful we live now and not then!!!!
    And how does the following rate on the scale of untruthfulness given it comes from a real climatologist, abet a retired one. It's from Lindzen's seminar at the UK House of Commons in 2012. (@ 32.20mins in the first videoed part of his talk linked here. (You-tube link here)

    "Does it [20th century temperature increase] matter?"

    "Okay so some points to take away from the global mean temperature anomaly record. Changes are small. They are in the order of several tenths of a degree. Changes are not causal but rather the residue of regional changes. Changes in the order of several tenths of a degree are always present at virtually all time-scales. And obsessing on the details of this record is more akin to a spectator sport or tea-leaf reading than a serious contributor to scientific efforts."

    "Say, at least so far. I mean if some day I shoud see the changes are twenty times what I've seen so far, that would be certainly remarkable but nothing so far looks that way."

    The implication is that we have here a retired climatologist who considers a gobal average temperature increase of less than (0.7 x 20=) 14ºC to be unremarkable. Are we then supposed to take such a retired climatologist as a serious authority on climate?

    What perhaps we cannot judge is how much a denier knows he is misrepresenting the data he presents, that he is effectively lying. I suppose gross exageration can be justified because the denialist message is to them the correct message and, and denialists don't have the resources to counter all the lies that you climate alarmists generate with all your fake IPCC science.

  • 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #27

    Bob Loblaw at 11:17 AM on 26 July, 2019


    You can't see something you refuse to look at. For the effects of El Nino on global temperatures, look no further than this paper. Once effects of El Nino volcanic aerosols, and solar variability are removed, very little year-to-year variation is left.

    Grant Foster and Stefan Rahmstorf (2011), Environmental Research Letters, Volume 6, Number 4, "Global temperature evolution 1979–2010"

    For a readable summary of the Foster and Rahmstorf paper, try here. The key graphic is the following:

    Adjusted global temperature

    As for chasing the squirrel of IR radiation affecting near-surface air temperature measurements, you really are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Air temperature in the lower tens of metres is vastly controlled by ground (or ocean) surface temperature, which is heated by the sun. Air temperature measurements are taken inside radiation shields, such as the Stevenson Screen. This not only eliminates IR effects, it pretty much removes errors related to solar radiation heating, which is a far more important issue. We've only known about these sort of issues since the mid-1800s.

    You're not catching up - you're falling even farther behind. Yesterday, it was 1964 information you were missing. Now it's 1864 information. As one of my colleagues says "he's so far behind he thinks he's in the lead".

  • Michaels Misrepresents Nordhaus and Scientific Evidence in General

    Daniel Bailey at 02:47 AM on 25 July, 2019

    "At what degree does the Arctic lose it's ice during the summer months?

    Because I can assure you that once that happens, there will be no stopping Global Warming.
    Does it happen at 2°C or less?

    Fortunately, scientists have looked into the effects of an ice-free Arctic.

    Pistone et al 2019 - Radiative Heating of an Ice‐free Arctic Ocean

    "Here we use satellite observations to estimate the amount of solar energy that would be added in the worstcase scenario of a complete disappearance of Arctic sea ice throughout the sunlit part of the year. Assuming constant cloudiness, we calculate a global radiative heating of 0.71 W/m2 relative to the 1979 baseline state. This is equivalent to the effect of one trillion tons of CO2 emissions. These results suggest that the additional heating due to complete Arctic sea ice loss would hasten global warming by an estimated 25 years."


    1. "Of the 0.71 W/m2 of globally-averaged heating, 0.21 W/m2 is estimated to have already occurred between 1979 and 2016. Approximately half (0.11 W/m2) of this realized heating occurred during the CERES observational record (2000-2016), with the other half occurring between 1979 and 1999 as estimated based on the observed relationship between satellite-derived sea ice concentration and albedo."

    2. "we cannot exclude the extreme possibility that the Arctic could become annually ice-free during the coming decades"

    3. "even in the presence of an extreme negative cloud feedback, the global heating due to the complete disappearance of the Arctic sea ice would still be nearly double the already-observed heating due to the current level of ice loss"

    4. "The present study focuses on the additional radiative heating from the complete loss of Arctic sea ice, but it does not estimate the amount of global warming that would be associated with this level of ice loss"

    5. "even under conditions in which the Arctic Ocean becomes ice-free only in September, the additional radiative heating may likely be driven largely by the associated midsummer sea ice loss"

    6. Arctic sea ice will continue to re-form in Arctic winter for the foreseeable future even after the loss of summer sea ice (the sun-lit portion of the year the paper primarily deals with)

    Money section:

    "This heating of 0.71 W/m2 is approximately equivalent to emitting one trillion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. As of 2016, an estimated 2.4 trillion tons of CO2 have been emitted since the preindustrial period due to both fossil fuel combustion (1.54 trillion tons) and land use changes (0.82 trillion tons), with an additional 40 billion tons of CO2 per year emitted from these sources during 2007-2016 (Le Quere et al., 2018). Thus, the additional warming due to the complete loss of Arctic sea ice would be equivalent to 25 years of global CO2 emissions at the current rate.

    This implies that if the Arctic sea ice were to disappear much more rapidly than in current climate model projections, it would drastically shorten the time available to adapt to climate changes and the time for achieving carbon neutrality."

  • Michaels Misrepresents Nordhaus and Scientific Evidence in General

    Brentkn at 07:18 AM on 24 July, 2019

    At what degree does the Arctic lose it's ice during the summer months?

    Because I can assure you that once that happens, there will be no stopping Global Warming.
    Does it happen at 2°C or less?

    Think you can stop the Arctic from melting?
    I don't and neither do many US oceanographers.
    There is a severe flaw in the logic here.
    Care to explain it?

  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #27, 2019

    Wffrantz at 09:43 AM on 13 July, 2019

    Climate change is a critical science. We need to understand how humans impact our home. 

    But, it's my opinion (don't know it it's allowed) that the movement to get funding from governments will backfire and die a premature death because they have chosen CO2 as the enemy.

    1) The long historical record does not support that

        ... CO2 is a leading indicator of temperature change (the opposite can be shown)

        ... As CO2 levels increase, that heating rates increase (the correlation is extremely low).

    2) Recent records (120 years) does not support that the accelerating rate of CO2 increases and absolute highs are causing accelerating rates of heating (which it should if the science was correct).

    3) Before long, it will be clear to the general public that the earth is greening dispite what dismissive climate scientists say about the minor affect to no effect that CO2 will have on crop and plant growth (they are digging a deaper hole).  Earth greening contains the word green. That will be difficult to villify.

    The movement chose the wrong enemy. They should intead embrace fossile fuels that increase CO2 (lessens poverty) but warn against warming oceans and the decreasing pH of the oceans and what that might do to organisms that rely on the basic pH of the ocean.

    Governments need to understand the trade between a more efficient agriculture and damage to the seacoast.  That is worth big $$$ in research. It's also real and won't backfire.

    Just my opinion. 

  • Antarctica is gaining ice

    Eclectic at 17:02 PM on 13 June, 2019

    Jesscars @487 , if you go to the well-known website WUWT [WhatsUpWithThat] you will find that "skeptics" have all sorts of beliefs about climate-change / global-warming.  And these beliefs are mostly mutually contradictory.

    A few hold beliefs that are quite reasonable ~ at least, for the conditions prior to the industrial-revolution / coal-burning.   Others believe that the [observed & well-documented] ice-melt & sea level rise are simply not happening ~ are a hoax (from a two-century conspiracy by corrupt scientists worldwide . . . a conspiracy without even a single whistle-blower ! )    Others believe that "chemtrails" are being sprayed by the Lizard People (disguised as humans) in order to befuddle and subdue the human race . . . leading to a dictatorship by an Anti-Christ or alternatively a Marxist World Government (run by the Illuminati or similar).

    Half are in complete denial CO2 has any physical effect whatsoever (other than nourishing plants).   Others think the atmospheric CO2 effect is low but negligible, and that we can keep merrily burning coal/oil until it's all used up.   Yet others think (despite the evidence) that all global warming/cooling comes from oceanic overturning cycles of 1400 years' duration (or whatever).   Or believe that the the orbits of Jupiter & Saturn are the underlying cause of climate change . . . or that Galactic Cosmic Rays are the sole responsible factor.   In short : ABCD  (Anything But Carbon Dioxide) .

    But what say you, Jesscars ?

    # Probably simpler for you to answer here , rather than on all the other six threads you have posted in over this afternoon.

    # Also, please don't bother to mention Idso & Corbyn ~ since those two gentlemen have failed at basic arithmetic.

  • State of the climate: Heat across Earth’s surface and oceans mark early 2019

    RedBaron at 06:44 AM on 10 June, 2019


    You asked, "I don't get the points about c3 and c4 grasses nor the subordination of trees-to-grass as a less carbon effective sequesterer"

    Most trees and some grasses are C3. but warm season grasses are C4. Since the C4 pathway is at least 5-10 times more efficient at photosynthesis, those plants primary productivity of products of photosynthesis start out many times greater baring other limiting factors. One of the main limiting factors in temporate grasslands is winter. So the solution that evolution came up with is a biodiverse mix of C4 and C3 grasses and forbs that each have a season they are dormant and a season they become dominant or co-dominant. This extracts by far the most solar energy and converts the most CO2 to sugars and proteins as compared to the more primitive forest ecosystems. (temperate forests produce almost no photosynthesis from fall all the way through winter and early spring while grasslands do produce photosynthesis with C3 cool season grasses and forbs) So the grasslands start out by fixing much more CO2 to begin with.

    Then we consider where the bulk of that fixed carbon is stored. In a forest it is mostly stored above ground in woody biomass and leaves. A large amount is also stored in the top O-horizon of the soil. Almost all this stored carbon will ultimately be returned to the atmosphere as CO2 and methane by fire and/or the processes of decay though. A climate scientist would call this short cycle carbon. A soil scientist calls it labile organic matter. It really isn't sequestered long term in any geological timeframe. (or at least most of it isn't)

    In a grassland we have much more primary productivity, but much less biomass storage as compared to forests. So the century's old question became what happened to all the rest? We sort of knew somehow it ended up as soil, because grasslands soils, particularly the Mollic epipedon, are many many times thicker and hold hundreds of times more carbon than most forest soils per acre on average. (there are some notable exceptions) But even that didn't quite add up. This is where the new research is beginning to reveal these questions.

    What we term the LCP is actually a biochemical pathway whereby CO2 first becomes fixed by photosynthesis, then becomes stored in the plants as sugar rich compounds and basic proteins forming sap, then flows downward through root exudates to feed symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi in trade for weathered and scavenged nutrients otherwise not bioavailable to the plant, metabolised into soil glues called "glomalin" to form a network of structured tunnels and pore spaces in the soil, which ultimately forms humic polymers tightly bound to the soil mineral substrate that creates new fertile soil.

    Climate scientists call this sequestered long cycle carbon to differentiate it from short cycle stored carbon in woody biomass. According to Dr Christine Jones in total approximately 40% of the total products of photosynthesis can follow this pathway under appropriate conditions and as it decays into soil about ~79% +/- of that carbon stays put rather than returning to the atmosphere as CO2. (again under appropriate conditions) Soil scientists call this stable carbon. However, the products of photosynthesis that are used by the grass to make above ground biomass also decay right back into CO2 much like the forests' above ground biomass. That's the labile carbon again. Well over 90% of labile carbon returns to the atmosphere as CO2 and methane on average. (with a few notable exceptions)

    So it is critical to understand that difference between what soil scientists call labile carbon and stable carbon or what climate scientists call short cycle and long cycle carbon. Grasslands take hundreds of times more short cycle carbon and divert it to long cycle carbon as compared to most forests. (with a few notable exceptions)

    You then asked, "Also, what is the proportional value of phytoplankton in this "sequestration" activity? And what is the impact of the recent news that some 40% of phytoplankton have disappeared from the world's oceans since 1952?"

    Frankly this does actually scare me. As a retired marine engineer I know that anyone who fails to respect the power of the ocean risks death. ANYONE and EVERYONE. As a metaphor, you seriously do not want to be around when Poseidon releases the Kraken. As you can probably tell, this causes my normally rational brain to short circuit into irrational fear. And I seriously do love the ocean! But it is ingrained in me that much through many trials and tribulations that we are absolute fools to mess with the ocean ecosystems as we are currently. It's the one thing actually powerful enough to cause human extinction.

    Back to rationality for a second though. I am not a marine researcher. Once years ago as a marine engineer on a research vessel I rubbed elbows with marine researchers occasionally, but I am not nor ever have been a marine scientist of any sort, not even amateur. Given that, I'll tell you what I have read over the years. One of the key things to remember is that most the ocean sequestration is focused around shallow seas and coastal areas with saltwater marshes and mangrove forests sequestering from 50-90% of biomass into stable forms. This is indeed one of those notable exceptions mentioned above. Also it is 2 to 35 times more carbon sequestration than even deep ocean phytoplankton! 

    Understanding Coastal Carbon Cycling by Linking Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches

    Some of that carbon came from the upland grasslands too though. Because those humic polymers that are tightly bound to the soil mineral substrate will generally stay bound when the soil erodes and floods coastal areas then settle out as silts. 

    You asked, "are you taking the position that animals grazing the Great Plains helped create the soil there ?"

    Yes. A resounding unequivocal yes! They co-evolved and the animals are every bit as important as the microbiome and the plants.

    Now for agriculture we can mimic this relationship if we understand how it functions. A cow is not a bison nor an antelope, but if we manage it correctly we can mimic that ecosystem function and use it to create soil too. But in order to do that you must first understand the function of the vast herds in a grassland/savanna/open woodland biome. 

    "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labor; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system." Bill Mollison

  • State of the climate: Heat across Earth’s surface and oceans mark early 2019

    swampfoxh at 20:04 PM on 9 June, 2019

    RedBaron. I am familiar with EliofVA's treatment of emissions in the form of an economic perspective...we are personally acquainted. I am familiar with the role of A Miccorhizae's symbiosis with plants and it's participation in carbon sequestration, but I don't get the points about c3 and c4 grasses nor the subordination of trees-to-grass as a less carbon effective sequesterer...I hope I'm making sense, here...Also, what is the proportional value of phytoplankton in this "sequestration" activity? And what is the impact of the recent news that some 40% of phytoplankton have disappeared from the world's oceans since 1952?

  • It's magnetic poles

    Daniel Bailey at 01:00 AM on 7 June, 2019

    Besides the obvious, that air is not ferrous, here's what I have:

    Scientists understand that the human impacts on the Earth, it's temperature and its climate are the dominant impacts because scientists have thoroughly studied all of the factors capable of forcing the observed changes since preindustrial times.

    It's not natural factors

    While the Earth's magnetic axis is shifting somewhat, Earth's rotational axis shifts only a little bit, mostly in response to the mass redistribution of water around the Earth from land-based ice sheet losses. This is a normal response.

    It's not magnetic pole wandering

    The net change in the position of the Earth's rotational axis is about 37 feet. The largest annual change is about 7 inches.

    If you move over 37 feet, the climate doesn't change. It changes even less per year if you only move 7 inches.

    The research paper itself is here:

    Supportive article 1

    Supportive article 2

    Supportive article 3


    While the Earth's magnetic field is weakening a bit and its magnetic axis is shifting somewhat, magnetic field polarity changes have no effects on climate on the timescale of human lifetimes because air isn’t ferrous. The effects on hand-held compasses are insignificant. For purposes of electronic navigation, changes in the position of the magnetic poles are constantly updated in navigational databases.

    "The last time that Earth's poles flipped in a major reversal was about 780,000 years ago, in what scientists call the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal. The fossil record shows no drastic changes in plant or animal life. Deep ocean sediment cores from this period also indicate no changes in glacial activity, based on the amount of oxygen isotopes in the cores. This is also proof that a polarity reversal would not affect the rotation axis of Earth, as the planet's rotation axis tilt has a significant effect on climate and glaciation and any change would be evident in the glacial record."


    "The science shows that magnetic pole reversal is – in terms of geologic time scales – a common occurrence that happens gradually over millennia. While the conditions that cause polarity reversals are not entirely predictable – the north pole's movement could subtly change direction, for instance – there is nothing in the millions of years of geologic record to suggest that any of the 2012 doomsday scenarios connected to a pole reversal should be taken seriously."

    "What would happen if the magnetic field of the Earth suddenly changed?

    Magnetic field wandering would let the aurora borealis occur at any latitude, but other than that there would be no noticeable effects other than changes in the amount of cosmic rays that penetrate to the ground. Even this effect is minimal because we can visit the Arctic and Antarctic and only receive a slight increase in cosmic rays. So long as the strength of the field remains high during this field wandering event, the effects should be pretty benign."

    "one total bonus of having a weaker magnetic field is that auroras will be visible from much lower latitudes, so the nighttime skies will be even more epic"

    (-technical, non-climate discussion on geodynamics here-)

    Apart from the potential light shows, no credible effects on climate on the timescale of human lifetimes.  Scientists have this one covered.

    Climate Forcings:

    Changes in the sun's output falling on the Earth are about 0.05 Watts/meter squared.

    By comparison, human activities warm the Earth by about 2.83 Watts/meter squared (AR5, WG1, Chapter 8, section 8.3.2, p. 676).

    What this means is that the warming driven by the GHGs coming from the human burning of fossil fuels since 1750 is over 50 times greater than the slight extra warming coming from the Sun itself over that same time interval.

    It's not the sun

    It's not magnetic field changes or the sun or natural cycles.

    It's human activities, primarily driven by the human burning of fossil fuels.


  • What will Earth look like in 2100?

    Brentkn at 05:43 AM on 13 April, 2019

    This year the Arctic is expected to become ice free.
    When that happens the polar air will shift to Greenland where there still is ice. This will dramtically change the jet streams in the northern hemisphere and we can expect to see even more wild weather extremes.
    But that is not the biggest threat.
    Warmer air will move into the Arctic region which just so happens to be surrounded by permafrost. There is enough greenhouse gases in the permafrost to triple what we currently have in our atmosphere. It is over 7 times more than what we have emitted with the burning of fossil fuels in the last 300 years.
    In the seabed below the Arctic ocean there are vast reserves of methane hydrates that can destabilize from the water warming up. Just 1% of that being released will cause a global extinction.
    The President of Finland has already stated that if we lose the Arctic, we lose the world.
    When the Arctic loses all of it's ice, it will be like turning off the air conditioner in the Northern Hemisphere during the hottest time of the year.
    Temperatures will very quickly climb by as much as 18°C in just a decade.
    We will see a 4-5°C rise in just 3 years. A 3°C rise is probably enough to kill off most humans.
    It's not the temperature rise that will kill us but the speed in which it happens.
    Whereas humans have proven to be versatile with temperature change, the species that we depend on for food and the air we breathe are not so resilient to temperature changes.
    Even if we could somehow survive the extreme heatwave events during the summer months, we would still need food, clean water and an atmosphere with at least 19% oxygen content.
    Sorry folks but the oxygen content is also falling. That is to be expected when we chop down the trees that provide the oxygen. Wildfires will destroy the rest as well as convert some of the oxygen to CO2.
    Can the world really change in 81 years?
    Just in the last 40 years there has been a loss of 60% of the world's wildlife. It's not going to take another 40 years for the rest to die off.
    81 years is more than enough time for the world to change.

  • Does providing information on geoengineering reduce climate polarization?

    bricoyle at 04:46 AM on 12 April, 2019

    This article misinterprets Kahan's work. It's four years old, but the subject is more important than ever.

    Kahan studies polarization that forms around scientific issues, particularly those that evince scientific consensus. He does research on public response to vacines, evolution, and more.

    Skuce critized Kahan's study for the type of geoengineering information it presented: giant scrubber filters, organics to accelerate ocean CO2 absorbtion, reflectors that "could be turned on and off" to reduce solar heating. Skuce is correct that these are very expensive and require massive deployment, which isn't stated in Kahan's material. For that reason, Skuce claims subjects were misled to believe geoengineering was an affordable option.

    Kahan did not describe the most likely to be deployed technology, stratospheric geoengineering. That is "affordable" and far easier to understand. Kahan didn't use it because he wanted to emphasize a human ingenuity "dimension". Many who study the public's response to climate change posit that its mass scale and global impact make people anxious and unable to respond. The human agency implied by clever technology might mitigate that.

    But Kahan also finds that people shape their opinions about global warming in response to what others believe. For example, Republicans were much less skeptical about it near the end of the G.W. Bush administration, when prominant party leaders expessed strong agreement with climate change consensus. Republicans become strongly opposed, however, when they recall that Gore is a leading global warming activist, and that President Obama pulled together the Paris agreement.

    That geoengineering is an anethma to climate activists is hardly a secret. That it could temporarily delay global warming acceleration is something many activists want to avoid discussing. Instead they jump to censor it, sometimes stating that human technology caused global warming, so deploying more technology to solve it is illogical. Most would not object to having complex medical technology treat themselves or a loved one, even though cancer may be caused by technological byproducts.

    This censorship is tacitly, if not manifestly, understood by many climate change skeptics. Hence attractive geoengineering information demonstrates their ideological opponents aren't morally superior, because they repress an important solution to a great crisis. As preceding comments show, some activists put their intentions clearly: they don't want geoengineering discussed, because it's a "get out of jail free" card. They want to corner skeptics, humble them into assention, and talk about geoengineering may defuse that.

    Unfortunately, human nature doesn't work like that. When people are cornered, they fight.

  • Milankovitch Cycles

    Bob Loblaw at 10:42 AM on 9 April, 2019


    I've been AFK, but yes, it's the earth-sun distance variation that causes the seasonal changes. Inverse square law and all that. Combine that with the geographical (land/ocean) difference between southern and northern hemispheres, and you get variations in climate.

    As glaciation is strongly a northern hemisphere phenomenon, the glaical periods tend to be linked to periods of low summer NH insolation.

  • Protecting oil companies instead of the climate-vulnerable is elitist

    Sunspot at 08:33 AM on 7 April, 2019

    I have no idea how anything I have said can be interpereted as supporting an intentional program of combatting Global Warming by using a Global Dimming strategy.  I don't support such efforts.

    There is evidence for a rapid rise in temps in the few days after 911 when the planes in the US were grounded. Here's the BBC Horizon video from 2005: There is a lot of other information on Global Dimming, some from sources that people here might actually trust. At any rate, you'll be hearing more about it - I just saw it in a MSM article the other day...

    "If the particulate is due to human actions that are unsustainable and harmful, then the global dimming is unsustainable and harmful." Well, in this case, the "cloud" actually does reflect solar energy back into space. Just like any cloud, right?? This has a cooling effect. I have certainly noticed that it is generally cooler on a cloudy day. Brown pollution clouds certainly act the same way, and I don't think that's conjecture. So, a bad and immoral (I guess) action by humans actually has a beneficial effect. Maybe everything isn't so black-and-white after all...

    While we're talking (before you ban me) - the Methane video being promoted here ignored the real issue as to a SUDDEN release of large quantities of methane. The video discussed permafrost discharges from the land, which of course really can't come out suddenly due to the nature of the situation. However, the video didn't even mention the vast amount of methane stored in the sediments of the Arctic Ocean, which certainly can be released suddenly in large quantities. Clathrates are very unstable, and a warm pulse of salty water just might trigger something. MIGHT! Please don't accuse me of thinking that I know what is going to happen, BECAUSE I DON'T. And I'm sorry if these concepts don't fit neatly in the Skeptical Science philosophy that the warming will be linear, we can fix it with enough windmills and solar panels, and we will go on living our middle-class lives with just a little tweaking. And bad things might happen in 100 or 200 years. I suppose it's comforting to think this, but for a site that pretends to be all about science, you have to ignore a lot of science to come to that rosy conclusion.

    So you can ban me before or after publishing this comment. I'm sure I once again violated all sorts of rules and regulations and guidelines or whatever. Forgive me for using plain English.

  • Climate's changed before

    TVC15 at 12:16 PM on 5 April, 2019

    This is the craziest Gish Gallop I've ever seen. Yes it's one of the deniers I deal with.

    Please refute the facts, instead of simply launching emotional diatribes.

    1. Is CO2 not .04% of atmospheric gases?

    2. Is man made CO2 not 5% of atmospheric CO2?

    3. Does water vapor not absorb IR energy over bandwidths 30X that of CO2?

    4. Is water vapor not .4-1% of atmospheric gases?

    5. Can one accurately compare over time temperature measurements estimated or measured by four different methods?

    6. Why don't the "temperature plots vs time" show the error bars for the methods used for temp measurement? (comparing "proxy temps" to digital, satellite proxies, and mercury thermometer measurements should immediately disqualify any scientific comparison).

    7. Why did temps not fall in the Great Depression when CO2 production fell 60%? (atmospheric CO2 has a half life of 3 years, not the very long periods suggested)

    8. Why did temps fall in ww2? Was the Battle of the Bulge and Stalingrad fought in tropical climates?

    9. How can the 1930s be the hottest decade on record when the AGW crowd says temps have continually increased since then?

    10. Why has Miami and New York not flooded?

    11. Why has there not been worldwide droughts?

    12. What happened to the "times without snow"? Tell that to everyone in the US this year.

    13. Why are temps falling?

    14. Are we not at the beginning of a prolonged solar minimum, similar to the Mauder minimum?

    15. Why did the earth not end and temps reach the boiling point of water when CO2 levels were 10X what they are now?

    16. What is the contribution of solar activity and sun spots to temps?

    17. What is the contribution of the orbit of the earth around the sun?

    18. What is the contribution of volcanic activity?

    19 If the "warming" models from 20 years ago are wrong, why are they correct now?

    20 How did they measure multiple temp points at remote areas of the ocean and polar regions 200 years ago?

    21. Have all the locations of temps measured over time been consistent geographic points? (Of course not- there has not been one consistent data point until the last twenty years).

    22. Why were temps warmer during the Roman Empire when CO2 levels were half what they are today?

    CO2 provides all the carbon that is the building blocks for ALL ORGANIC LIFE on this planet. Every carbon atom in your body that makes up all of the carbon compounds in your body were once CO2. It is not surprising that the death cult of AGW would seek to reduce or eliminate a molecule equally important as water or oxygen for life on earth.

    The "optimal" CO2 for plant growth is 900-1100 ppm. We need a lot MORE CO2, not less. Due to higher CO2 levels, plant life has increased over the last 30 years, providing a greening of the planet and higher crop production. Do you want to reduce plant life and cause famines?

  • Arctic sea ice has recovered

    Daniel Bailey at 00:05 AM on 30 March, 2019

    For perspective, Arctic sea ice extent, from NOAA's 2017 Arctic Report Card, shows recent extents to be the lowest in the past 1,500 years.  Not a surprise, as it also shows recent temperatures there to be the wamest in the past 1,500 years:

    Arctic sea ice last 1,500 years


    Interestingly, it also shows that the development of sea ice in the Arctic over 40 million years ago to be closely coupled with the fall in global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperatures (unsurprising, given that both are tightly intercorrelated over geologic time):

    Arctic sea ice history over geologic time


    Given that actually reading Stein 2017 shows it to be in support of the anthropogenic nature of the current warming and the ongoing losses from the Cryosphere, especially WRT the Arctic and its diminishing sea ice, it's hard to give any credence to skeptics that misquote it.

  • Climate's changed before

    Eclectic at 10:53 AM on 26 March, 2019

    @668 : let it slide, TVC15 .

    In the end, it's rather futile to debate the origin of metabolic carbon ~ since the terrestrial carbon cycle moves C around continuously [not counting fossil carbon]. As David Kirtley says, its ultimate origin is from some distant stellar source, pre-dating our own sun.

    If anything, one might say that lifeform C in evolutionary terms originated from lipids and/or carbonates/bicarbonates in the primordial ocean.   And there can be other arguments too . . . all getting a bit Angels on a pinhead.   But your denier friend wasn't entirely wrong in his point about carbon ~ though it certainly was a pointless point he made.

    I hope you've had time to enjoy a few of the Potholer54 videos on climate science.   He has five [FIVE] on the asinine antics of the eloquent Lord Monckton ~ quite amusing to see the "error-prone Viscount" [unquote] shoot himself in the foot repeatedly.

  • The temperature evolution after 2016 suggests hotter future

    Eclectic at 12:05 PM on 23 March, 2019

    ThinkingMan , it's always worthwhile to step back occasionally and look at the bigger context.

    Global surface temperature had been at a fairly flat plateau for (roughly) 5,000 years of the Holocene Maximum ~ which has been followed by (roughly) 5 or 6,000 years of gradual decline (related to the Milankovitch cycle of insolation).   Owing to the present relatively-low ellipticity of the Earth's orbit, the next glacial phase is due in 20-30,000 years ~ and may be skipped altogether since the oceans are being unusually warmed by AGW.

    The Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period etcetera are only tiny wiggles in comparison to the multi-millennial decline in temperature.

    Against this long-term decline, you can see the last (roughly) 100 years demonstrates a temperature rise which is shooting upwards like a rocket.   And is now surpassing the Holocene Maximum.   IMO it is beyond ridiculous for denialists to assert that our modern-day global warming is the result of a 60-year oscillation in oceanic currents.

    Yet that is what some of the (more intelligent) denialists assert.   No need to waste your time reading Professor Curry's blog ~ she is still suggesting that "up to" 60% of modern warming could be caused by confluence of oceanic current cycles.   Quite marvellous it is, how a giant dose of "Motivated Reasoning" can so completely distort the rational thinking of an educated intelligent person.

    You see rather similar bizarre thinking coming from Lindzen & Spencer & others.   (And much of the remainder of denialists are still loudly proclaiming that CO2 has zero or negligible Greenhouse effect.)

  • Antarctica is too cold to lose ice

    Daniel Bailey at 00:39 AM on 11 March, 2019

    As Eclectic notes, do not post the same comment on more than 1 page here.  Put it on the most appropriate thread and wait for feedback.

    Repeated from the other thread, augmented by extra content in response to the Schroeder paper:

    The paper itself makes it clear that this result only applies to the area of the Thwaites Glacier. Not the WAIS in its entirety nor the rest of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, all of which are showing significant mass losses. Per the PAPER:

    "We estimate a minimum average geothermal flux value of about 114 mW/m2 with a notional uncertainty of about 10 mW/m2 for the Thwaites Glacier catchment with areas exceeding 200 mW/m2"

    So not a lot more than actual mean heat flows of continents and oceans, which are 65 and 101 mW m−2, respectively. And just in the area of Thwaites Glacier. A very tiny subset of the WAIS, itself a small portion of the overall Antarctic Ice Sheet.

    Further, the authors of the paper have themselves repudiated misinterpretations of their paper:

    "Dear Cryolist,

    The last couple of days have been interesting. What seemed like an innocuous chat with a San Antonio AM radio station about the findings of our new paper on geothermal flux under Thwaites Glacier rapidly turned into a confusing internet news story on how we had disproven anthropogenic global warming (this news story has now been taken down at our request). This is obviously not the case.

    For the record:

    -Our study has no bearing on whether or not anthropogenic global warning is occurring.

    -The amount of basal melting we find, although elevated compared to typical values estimated for Antarctica, is minor compared with both ice flux over the grounding line, snow fall in the catchment, and near the grounding line, the implied geothermal melting is small compared to the ice lost observed through various methods.

    -We believe the main effect of this elevated heat flow is on the distribution and evolution of basal traction in the catchment. There may be a role for time varying interior boundary conditions to influence ice dynamics, complementing the now well established links to ice shelf thinning and ocean dynamics.

    By and large, the media response to the paper has been accurate, but there obviously have been some outliers."


    Duncan Young, Don Blankenship, Enrica Quartini and Dustin Schroeder

    Additionally, vulcanism has been present in Antarctica for well over 50 million years.

    The ice sheet there formed 34 million years ago, and persisted since, in spite of that vulcanism. A subglacial heat mantle plume would have produced detectable subglacial drainage and melting events. None has been detected for the Pine Island Glacier and the adjacent Thwaites Glacier has proven largely insensitive to the presence of such a mantle heat source:

    "volcanic heat does not contribute significantly to the glacial melt observed in the ocean at the front of the ice shelf"


    "the heat source beneath the Pine Island Glacier is roughly 25 times greater than the bulk heat flux from an individual dormant volcano"

    The heat coming from the geothermal activities under the ice is not a whole lot more than that coming from a dormant volcano.

    People walk on dormant volcanoes. Trees grow on them.

    In Antarctica, ice forms on them.

    Marie Byrd Land

    The volcanic heat plume mentioned under the ice of a portion of Antarctica is fossil heat; its last activity predates the formation of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (itself more than 34 million years old).

    "The plume is far older than the recent period of atmospheric warming; indeed, at 50 million to 110 million years old, it's older than our species and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet itself."

    So the ice in the area formed anyway, in spite of the supposed "volcano".

    Influence of a West Antarctic mantle plume on ice sheet basal conditions

  • Antarctica is gaining ice

    Daniel Bailey at 00:29 AM on 11 March, 2019

    Vulcanism has been present in Antarctica for well over 50 million years.

    The ice sheet there formed 34 million years ago, and persisted since, in spite of that vulcanism. A subglacial heat mantle plume would have produced detectable subglacial drainage and melting events. None has been detected for the Pine Island Glacier and the adjacent Thwaites Glacier has proven largely insensitive to the presence of such a mantle heat source:

    "volcanic heat does not contribute significantly to the glacial melt observed in the ocean at the front of the ice shelf"


    "the heat source beneath the Pine Island Glacier is roughly 25 times greater than the bulk heat flux from an individual dormant volcano"

    The heat coming from the geothermal activities under the ice is not a whole lot more than that coming from a dormant volcano.

    People walk on dormant volcanoes. Trees grow on them.

    In Antarctica, ice forms on them.


    Marie Byrd Land

    The volcanic heat plume mentioned under the ice of a portion of Antarctica is fossil heat; its last activity predates the formation of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (itself more than 34 million years old).

    "The plume is far older than the recent period of atmospheric warming; indeed, at 50 million to 110 million years old, it's older than our species and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet itself."

    So the ice in the area formed anyway, in spite of the supposed "volcano".

    Influence of a West Antarctic mantle plume on ice sheet basal conditions

  • It's waste heat

    Eclectic at 09:07 AM on 5 March, 2019

    AEBanner @177 ,

    it would be better to consider the "crunch question" in the context of :-

    Energy is energy ~ so we can say (in a sense) kinetic energy and photonic energy are two sides of the same coin.

    The atmosphere gains photonic and kinetic [what you have called sensible heat] energy from the ocean & land, and also partly from the radiation from the sun (plus a tiny amount of kinetic energy from the impact of solar wind particles).

    The atmosphere loses energy by (A) tranferring kinetic and photonic energy to the ocean & land, and (B) radiating IR photons to outer space.   Of course, kinetic energy cannot be lost to space, since the air molecules are gravitationally bound to Earth.   However, because kinetic & photonic energy forms are continuously & rapidly interchangeable, the result is in effect that all atmospheric energy is available for radiation to outer space.   It's all a matter of time and flow rate [flux].

    Therefore the atmosphere remains in a steady state of thermal equilibrium with its geothermal & human-industrial & solar input, being balanced by atmospheric radiational heat loss (excepting the small - but very important - temperature rise deriving from the newly-added greenhouse gasses in the modern era: in other words, from AGW ).

  • The Big Picture

    Eclectic at 08:02 AM on 2 March, 2019

    AEBanner @211 ,

    sorry, your calculation is not even close (nor do you get even a small cigar! ).

    Nor can you say that an accumulation of joules, ergs, watts, Terawatt-years (or BTU per minute) from human-caused oxidation, can be magically limited to only the thin gasseous part of our planet.

    Everything is connected over time.  The planetary air is pressed up against 300+ million square kilometres of cool ocean . . . and so the "careful sequestration" that you wish for, is simply impossible.

    AEBanner, your idea is far from new.   It's all been looked into & assessed ~ years ago.

  • Climate Damages: Uncertain but Ominous, or $51 per Ton?

    nigelj at 08:20 AM on 14 February, 2019

    Great article. The economic models are based around a few things such as climate change damages. I'm not an economist, but it does not take much to see that the damages outweigh the benefits as below.

    And this list does not even include the distinct possibility of some abrupt and severe form of change to global atmospheric or ocean circulation patterns. Regardless of whether an abrupt change is towards abrupt warming or some peverse form of cooling, such a change would indisputably be hard to adapt to due to its abrupt nature.

    And this needs repeating. The article says estimates of net damages keep increasing while mitigation costs are falling. Very important idea.

    And the modelling is based around discount rates and rates of future wealth creation. Discount rates assume an investment today will grow in value in the future, and nobody disputes this has been the pattern thus far historically, but we are always in a situation of "assuming" such a pattern would continue. It is never a "given" and is always based on assumptions. So are the typical assumptions made sensible? One assumption is the economy will improve its quality of output, and this seems  reasonable but is a different thing to quantity and this is what is most relevant to a discount rate. Another assumption is efficiency would improve. Its reasonable to assume we would waste less and be smarter about things, but reducing waste comes up against an obvious limit fairly quickly.

    It's assumed that population will grow giving economies of scale, but many trends are already towards lower population growth (and this is ultimately no bad thing anyway). Its assumed that technology will perpetually improve at past rates, but some evidence suggests rates of technological innovation have actually already slowed (even although this appears counter intuitive). Its reasonable to assume innovation will continue in renewable energy for some decades, and prices will drop but even that will have limits.

    It is assumed that there will be perpetual economic growth at rather high rates of 3% per annum. This is implausible, because resource scarcity, the need for sustainablity, combined with market saturation and climate impacts all suggest economic growth will relentlessly slow in coming decades and centuries, and probably fall, so those who optimistically count on high economic growth offsetting the climate problem are delusional.

    This is not to say economic growth will stop tomorrow. It's likely it will continue and greatly help lift people out of poverty, but there are limits on the timescales relevant to the climate problem. 

    Therefore those counting on future wealth creation bailing us out of the problem are delusional. Those assuming a high discount rate are delusional. They just aren't very smart. They are pollyanahs.

  • A Green New Deal must not sabotage climate goals

    RedBaron at 07:21 AM on 2 February, 2019

    @15 William,

    With all due respect both your options listed are analogous to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. This problem is not only about emissions. This is a carbon cycle. Trying to fix this by eliminating carbon emissions is tackling the problem with one hand tied behind our backs. It won't work, and several researchers have made the claim we already passed the point where that alone cant work. There are two sides to this and BOTH must be improved, less emissions and more sequestration.

    You need to go back to basics and rethink what causes AGW to begin with.

    1. We are burning fossil fuels and emitting massive amounts of carbon in the atmosphere as CO2 mostly but also some CH4 and a few other greenhouse gasses.
    2. We have degraded the environmental systems that would normally pull excess CO2 out of the atmosphere. (mostly grasslands)
    3. By putting more in the atmosphere and removing less, there is no other place for the excess to go but the oceans. They are acidifying due to absorbing just part of the excess. (roughly 1/2)
    4. That still leaves roughly 1/2 of emissions that are building up in the atmosphere and creating an increased greenhouse effect. (from ~280 ppm to 412+ppm CO2)

    So this leads directly to the way we must reverse AGW:

    1. Reduce fossil fuel use by replacing energy needs with as many feasible renewables as current technology allows.
    2. Change Agricultural methods to high yielding regenerative models of production made possible by recent biological & agricultural science advancements.
    3. Large scale ecosystem recovery projects similar to the Loess Plateau project, National Parks like Yellowstone etc. where appropriate and applicable.

    TL;DR We need to reduce carbon in and increase carbon out of the atmosphere to restore balance to the carbon cycle.
    Consider a third option,

    verified carbon offsets

    1. Money into the hands of farmers and land managers sequestering carbon in the soil
    2. Stimulates the economy
    3. Reduces food costs
    4. Improves food security for both rich and poor alike
    5. Simultaneously AGW adaptive and mitigation strategy
    6. Must be done anyway, so this is a simply way to fund it. 2 birds 1 stone
    7. Far more effective than either of the two you listed.
    8. Far less cost than either of the two you listed.
    9. Obtainable right now without the need for new unknown technologies.
    10. Not a redistribution of wealth scheme, but rather a public works project capable of gathering conservative political support as well as liberal political support.

    In short, the carbon emissions sources will be paying for land managers to sequester their carbon footprint back into the earth where it belongs. This is a paid service, not a tax and liberal spend scheme with an ulterior social agenda.

    And best of all? It's already set up and ready to go at the local government level. Just awaits funding. Pass the legislation and even in the most conservative of states it goes off and running immediately.

    Carbon Sequestration Certification Program

  • The Methane 'Time Bomb': How big a concern?

    Elmwood at 15:07 PM on 31 January, 2019

    I used to interact briefly with methane hydrate researchers at the USGS, mostly from a resource assessment perspective. From what I remember, being a non-clathrate specialist, was that they (USGS, i.e. Carolyn Ruppel and Tim Collett) didn't think massive marine destabilization via global warming was likely. I remember someone saying that ocean waters are relatively unsaturated with methane and that the methane wouldn't be able to rise to the surface.. I could be totally wrong on this!

    I do know that the going theory is that massive onshore methane hydrates deposits are "frozen" thermogenic natural gas fields that had probably been there for a long time, well before the icehouse climate we are or used to be in. Therefore, it's unlikely that these frozen gas fields will destabalize and make it to the atmosphere--they are already trapped so to speak.

    The methane hydrate stability zone, onshore Artic Alaska, is typically around 800' to over 4,000' below the surface, and would take a very long time to thaw out anyways. By then the earth will probably be 8 degrees C warmer--game over!

  • The Methane 'Time Bomb': How big a concern?

    Doug_C at 06:29 AM on 31 January, 2019

    Evan @7

    Unfortunatley we are now in a position of triage having to decide what we can save and what resources we have to do so.

    The loss of coral reef systems alone is going to have a profound effect on how life in the oceans behave. One quarter of marine species are dependent on coral reefs for some or all of their lifecycle. The oceans are the main lungs of the planet and home to most life here.

    The loss of glaciers is going to also have major impacts on us and the ecosystems around us in many places. I'm from British Columbia and have been familiar with glaciers all my life and the rivers and lakes they feed. It's really sobering to think of a BC... and many other places... with little or no glaciers.

    As a kid in the early 1970s I remember a family trip through Glacier national park on the Canada-US border and the many glaciers that gave the park its name. Most are now gone in a pattern repeated globally.

    Extreme Ice Survey

    The polar ice sheets have already lost their stability and are losing ice at an incredible rate, far faster than models that treat them as solid blocks melting from the outside predicted.

    And it goes on an on, we have upset a fundamental balance that determines one of the most important factors on Earth, how warm it is on the planet's surface. And it is still treated as a relatively minor issue by far too many people, many of them in positions that need to take responsible action, not keep promoting the same activities that have brought us here.

    I also have family who work in the oil industry in Alberta and I get how important it is to people there. But it is incredibly frustrating to try to explain to people how what they are doing right now to meet their immediate needs is going to make it very difficult to impossible for them and their kids to meet those needs in just a few decades. With major emergencies along the way like the record flooding in southern Alberta in 2013 and the massive wildfires that burned down Fort McMurray in 2016.

    There are real actions and solutions to this growing catastrophe but they require a willingness to change. Sadly something that is still lakcing in many people, who are somehow able to ignore the fact that the Earth is already changing now for the worst.

    Real change to a low carbon sustainable energy and economic model has so many benefits that it no longer makes any sense at all to talk about fossil fuels as anything else but a disaster on a scale that makes CFCs, DDT and many other human created ecological and social problems minor in comparison.

  • Sea level is not rising

    bArt at 12:23 PM on 22 January, 2019


    Thanks for the link to the paper on OHC. In it, it states:

    "Our reconstruction, which agrees with other estimates for the well-observed period, demonstrates that the ocean absorbed as much heat during 1921–1946 as during 1990–2015."

    I take from that that as much heat was absorbed in the early 1900's as was being absorbed at the turn of the century (44 years later).

    You wonder why I fail to explain why I dont accept the direct observations of sea level rise (and for that matter ice loss).  Actually I do now accept both, but the extent and attendant risk are aguable. If people are to be forced by law to move away from coastal areas or suffer other penalty due to events that merely might happen, then it is bullying. Why not use education? It's worked on me so far. I used to be a denier (of sorts) although I still think that our planet has amazing self correcting and regulating abilities. There seems to be as much alarmist language as there is the opposite, lets just stick to verifiable facts.

    My wife says it is merely the tail end of the huge cooling period (ice age) where the glaciers only continue doing what they have been doing for thosands of years.
    Fox Glacier in New Zealand moves at approximately 10 times the speed of other valley glaciers around the world. 
    Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier falls 2600 metres on its 13-kilometre journey towards the coast. It is 300 metres deep and its terminal face is just 5 kilometres from the township. Vertical schist rock walls on either side of the Fox Glacier valley are over one kilometre high. It is said that at one time Fox Glacier fed straight into the ocean, 13 kms. away. That means it's been receeding for quite some time.

    Please point out any wrong facts or assumptions I make, thanks.

  • Sea level is not rising

    John Hartz at 04:43 AM on 22 January, 2019

    Recommended supplemental reading:

    Ocean warming speeds vary with depth by Tim Radford, Climate Home, Jan 10, 2019

    It's chock full of embedded references to scientific findings on the subject matter.

  • Sea level is not rising

    Daniel Bailey at 09:30 AM on 13 January, 2019

    "I find it difficult to imagine that any amount of erosion is causing a displacement effect"

    You are indeed correct in that skepticism, as the contribution of river sediment delivered to the oceans is about 20 billion tons / year. This sums to about 6 km^3 / yr or ~0.017 mm / yr of sea level rise equivalent (which is about ~1/200 of the current rise rate).

    So if the oceans are not rising significantly due to these natural displacement factors, why is it rising? What then are the actual measured major contributors to sea level rise?

    Let’s look first at what current SLR levels are: 3.2 mm/year.

    Let’s think about what that 3.2 mm/year actually represents, in terms of water volume: 1,184 cubic kilometers per year!

    This means that every 5 years, the oceans are rising by the equivalent volume of twelve Lake Erie’s (484 cubic kilometers)! And over a 10-year period, the oceans will rise by a volume almost equivalent to that of Lake Superior! Wow! And that’s just at current rates of SLR!

    So where are the various contributions to measured SLR coming from? Let’s look at that.

    "Ocean thermal expansion, glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica contribute by 42%, 21%, 15% and 8% to the global mean sea level over the 1993-present. We also study the sea level budget over 2005-present, using GRACE-based ocean mass estimates instead of sum of individual mass components. Results show closure of the sea level budget within 0.3 mm/yr. Substantial uncertainty remains for the land water storage component, as shown in examining individual mass contributions to sea level."

    Unfortunately, due to the measured increases in ice sheet mass losses coming from Antarctica (which have tripled since 2012 alone), the rates of SLR are themselves accelerating:

    "Global sea level rise is not cruising along at a steady 3 mm per year, it's accelerating a little every year, like a driver merging onto a highway, according to a powerful new assessment led by CIRES Fellow Steve Nerem. He and his colleagues harnessed 25 years of satellite data to calculate that the rate is increasing by about 0.08 mm/year every year—which could mean an annual rate of sea level rise of 10 mm/year, or even more, by 2100."

    "This acceleration, driven mainly by accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise by 2100 as compared to projections that assume a constant rate—to more than 60 cm instead of about 30." said Nerem, who is also a professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. "And this is almost certainly a conservative estimate," he added. "Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years. Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that's not likely."

    Per Nerem et al 2018:

    "the observed acceleration will more than double the amount of sea-level rise by 2100 compared with the current rate of sea-level rise continuing unchanged. This projection of future sea-level rise is based only on the satellite-observed changes over the last 25 y, assuming that sea level changes similarly in the future. If sea level begins changing more rapidly, for example due to rapid changes in ice sheet dynamics, then this simple extrapolation will likely represent a conservative lower bound on future sea-level change."

    Sea level rise components, from Cazenave et al 2018:



  • CO2 effect is saturated

    Geologist for a change at 20:43 PM on 3 January, 2019

    Goodbye man-made global warming? As an independent (i.e. impartial) consulting geologist (doctorate in sedimentary geology) with 35 years of experience, having conducted an unpaid (impartial) full-time 3-year (since Nov 2015; continuing) review of the literature from ALL scientific disciplines relevant to climate- and sea-level change (geology, archaeology, physics, astrophysics, oceanography, meterorology, etc, etc), here are my main conclusions:

    (1) There's obviously no doubt that Earth has warmed since thermometer measurements began in the 1800s (HadCRUT data; and online NASA/GISS online charts [yearly, monthly, and others], updated every few weeks). However, Earth began COOLING in February 2016 (NASA/GISS monthly chart). This cooling already exceeds all other measured coolings since 1995, in both duration (nearly 3 years so far) and magnitude (0.5 degrees C, fully one-third of IPCCs dreaded '1.5 degrees C by 2100', but in the wrong direction) ...

    (2) Warming was driven by increasing solar-MAGNETIC output (controlling cosmic rays, therefore cloudiness; Svensmark's breathtakingly elegant theory), nothing to do with mankind's CO2 emissions which just happened, by pure (bad) luck, to grow during a solar upswing (rather than downswing), a ghastly coincidence; the reverse was about equally likely, 50:50.

    (3) Changes in temperature are lagging about 25 years behind changes in solar-magnetic output, due to ocean thermal inertia (google it), dismissed by IPCC.

    (4) Sea level is about to rise about 3 metres (sic), before 2100, driven by the increase in solar-magnetic output (up until its 1996 peak), its effect on sea level delayed a further 20 years (approx.; i.e. total sea-level lag is about 45 years) due to ocean 'conveyor-belt' circulation (also ignored by IPCC) delaying the arrival at Antarctica of 'solar-overwarmed' Atlantic surface water, via downwelling and southward mid-depth flow (AMOC). The floating ice shelves buttressing Antarctic on-land glaciers are NOW disintegrating at an accelerating rate (led by Pine Island, Thwaites and Totten), so catastrophic glacier failure by MISI and/or MICI is likely to begin within a decade, raising sea level by at least 3m within about 50 years. It's unstoppable.

    Am I right? We'll know very soon. Regarding solar control of global temperature, the next two years will tell: I predict continued cooling, so keep a close eye on that NASA temperature chart. Regarding sea level, we'll know within 10 years, possibly much sooner: I predict the rate of sea-level rise, currently a trivial 3mm/year, but already increasing exponentially, will be at least ten times higher (3cm/year) by 2030, if not 2025. Watch NASA's online sea-level chart, updated every few months.

    See my 20 ResearchGate contributions, mostly one-page items or single figures, fully self explanatory ...

  • Climate Carbon Bookkeeping

    Dan Joppich at 07:11 AM on 31 December, 2018

    I'm not a scientist but I am an accountant and I look at and prepare a lot of graphs. My focus is not so much on the article as a whole (because it's way over my head) but on the graph included that is based on ice core samples. So, as I tell my college age children, always think of three questions the author or journalist didn't ask. Here are mine:

    1. The graph is virtually flat for much of the thousand years. It seems to me that there had to be a few naturally occuring events that would create even a small blip (i.e. a major volcanic event even under the oceans or maybe unusually massive fires in Indonesia). Why don't we see a spike somewhere? I'm sorry it's just too conveniently flat.

    2. I would like to think that the authors of the graph compared graphs from core samples in multiple locations around the globe and found that they all showed the same results. How many locations are necessary to confirm the results and how many did they use from what sources? If the answer is that there was only one, I would think that scientific skepticism would say that it's a pretty graph but not good science the same way that my auditor skepticism would not accept such a result as adequate proof.

    3. In geological time this graph represents a blink of the eye. The core samples had to provide samples that go back many thousands of years. What would the graph show if it went back 5,000 years? 10,000 years? 

    Again, I'm not a scientist, but has anybody come up with an alternate explantion for the jump over the last couple centuries. After all, from 1800 to 1900 there were very few people on the earth to the point that no matter how many fires they made or, later in the 1800's, trains that spewed carbon and soot. Certainly not enough to explain the early rise. And even where that occurred it was localized (New York, London, etc.) and would not have caused Antarctic changes on this level, in my opinion.

    Maybe the graph flatlines for extended periods for some other reason. I'll leave the answer to smarter people than me but this site is called "Skeptical Science", not "I got the answer I was looking for so I can move on Science". I'm not saying that there isn't more CO2 now, I'm just looking at the flat line and wondering why?

  • Antarctica is gaining ice

    Ed the Skeptic at 14:09 PM on 16 December, 2018

    PS: It's important to note that according to the above sources glacial meltwater isn't the only contribution of the geothermally warm area that affects sea level.  The meltwater essentially lubricates the accelerated motion of the ice flowing into the ocean.

  • Like health care, climate policy could tip elections

    Doug_C at 07:45 AM on 14 December, 2018

     EsaJii @4

    "The problem seems to be that they cannot "feel it in their bones." My denialist "fiend" in Finland said exactly that. I asked him if he would be able to tell if it is -22C or -20C outside, just by standing outside. He had no answer. Right wingers have usually some small government preferece so studies paid for by any government as suspect."

    That's a misrepresentation of what global warming forced climate change will do. It's not a slight warming everywhere that has little discernible impact, it is an increase of the global average temperature that has catastrophic impacts at the local level.

    Like 86 people being killed by the Camp Fire and almost 20,000 buildings destroyed. It's killer heat waves that are ten times more common now and that can kill thousands. Or years long droughts that can help trigger wars that kill hundreds of thousands and send millions fleeing for their lives.

    As for your denier "friend" in Finland, it's not a slight warming he should be concerned about now. Due to the large amount of melting fresh water off the Greenland ice sheet, global warming is already desreceasing the ocean currents that warm much of northern Europe. While the rest of the world warms, places like Finland could experience a drop in temperature.

    What climate change means is chaotic weather conditions for decades or possible centuries that are already deadly.

    Pretty sure the humans who were vapourized by the intense heat of the Camp and other other fires felt it in their bones. And when half the North American continent is covered in smoke from fires tied directly to climate change and we're getting smoke here from wildfires in Siberia due to the same then how out of touch with reality itself do people have to be to not get the link and the risk.

  • SkS Analogy 16 - Arctic ice, sailboat keels, and wild weather

    Sunspot at 03:23 AM on 5 December, 2018

    Paul Beckwith has proposed the alarming notion that, when the Arctic Ocean goes essentially ice-free, and the North Pole is no longer the coldest region in the Northern Hemisphere, that honor will pass to Northern Greenland. The question is, would the Jet Stream follow along, doing its dance with Greenland being the center of circulation, a full 17 degrees from the pole? Paul declined to speculate on what the effect would be on weather patterns, but it's not likely the result would be favorable to the humans.

  • Climate science comeback strategies: Al Gore said what?

    Eclectic at 09:41 AM on 28 November, 2018

    JP66 @11 ,

    A/ Yes you are quite right, we should assess things coolly and logically, and not be swept away by a few tiny pieces of evidence (like cherry-picking a handful of leaves from a large forest).  There is a vast wealth of  evidence ~ consilient evidence ~ supporting the mainstream climate science . . . and there is almost none supporting the "denialist" viewpoint.   The denialists have rhetoric, and not much else.

    B/ As you are already aware, I'm sure, the hugely significant difference between the previous changes in temperature during the Holocene, and the present day global temperature . . . is that of rate of change.  At present, the surface temperature is climbing vertically like a Hornet on afterburners (excuse the mild hyperbole!).  And it is still climbing rapidly.   This is a vastly different situation from the slow & slight changes during the so-called Holocene Optimum and during the 5,000 years since then.

    C/ It's a good idea to step back and look at the bigger picture.  Coming out of the last glacial stage (and speaking in broad terms) there was a 10,000-year gradual rise of temperature of roughly 5 degreesC (and there was also a 1,000-year wiggle in the middle of that, named the Younger Dryas).  Then came a rather flat period of about 5,000 years, which some call the Holocene Optimum.   Following that, for 5,000 years has been a slow fall of temperature . . . until now.   Just as seen in the level Holocene Optimum, we also see during the declining past 5,000 years ~ various minor bumps and minor troughs (named the Roman Warm Period, the Medieval, the Little Ice Age, etcetera etcetera).   These small wiggles are very small, and came and went slowly (and they are so small in amplitude of rise/fall, that is is difficult to exactly define their start and finish).

    D/ The more important point is : what caused these previous minor wiggles during the Holocene?  There's only a limited number of candidates ~ minor variations in solar output (on a multi-decadal scale); occasional major volcanic activity; long-cycle oceanic overturning currents; etcetera.  Climate changes when something causes it to change.   It doesn't change for no reason.  (And I am sure you also know of the ultra-long cycle of Milankovitch.).   This is why the denialists are talking arrant nonsense, when they say that the recent warming [say from 1800 or 1850] is just "a rebound from the Little Ice Age" ~ they seem to forget that there must be an actual cause for change.

    JP66 . . . against the overall picture, the overall evidence . . . it is very difficult to find anything to get excited about, in fjord depths.  (If I have mis-read that, then I would be grateful if you would explain the significance.)

    JP66 , if you wish to question the general world data being correct/incorrect ~ you should read & discuss at a more appropriate thread.  [And a Spoiler Alert : the denialists have got that wrong as well!]

  • Climate science comeback strategies: Al Gore said what?

    swampfoxh at 07:41 AM on 15 November, 2018

    Yep, Al Gore's "point of no return" appears to have been reached.  And, yes, we are still here, but our being here has nothing to do with having "reached the point of no return". He didn't say humans would disappear from the planet "in ten years", he just said we would reach "the point of no return".  Presumably, he was interested in our "return" to the relative "normalcy" of our last 8,400 years of Goldilocks" climate. But, alas, seems not to be possible now.  I think it's pretty well accepted (scientifically) that some humans will probably be around when the predicted climate problems "do in" most of the human race (if the problems are unresolved).  Certainly, the accelerating disappearance of phytoplankton in the oceans is going to make animal respiration a lot tougher "someday" if we humans don't fix what we've broke.  The plight of phytoplankton is only one many more problems need to be solved so that deniers can hope to share a livable planet with the rest of us?  It's too bad there's a "tragedy of the commons".  If we could export our deniers; say, to Mars, perhaps we could set about to fix things. 

  • Climate science comeback strategies: Al Gore said what?

    prophtch44 at 06:04 AM on 14 November, 2018

    I have been a skeptic for many years.  Not of climate change but the degree of man's role in the change.   That being said I don't think it's wise to whistle past the grave yard.   There are so many pressing problems that need resolution.  For example.  Plastic in our oceans, mono-cropping, acidification of our oceans, and many others just to name a few.  We need to make alternative energy sources affordable to the average consumer.  Most people don't have 35,000 dollars for an electric car or 100k for solar panels.  Practical solutions would dictate that these alternate sources must become more accessable.  

    While I am not alarmed and hysterical about climate change and global warming I am not a gambling person.  We should try to err on the side of caution without going to extremes.  Consider all the outcomes of measures to control climate and will they really work.

    I think it is also important to important to hear all sides of the issue.  So called "concensus" findings is not always scientific.  For over 100 years practically 100% of all scientists believed in "Luminous Aether" .  Even as late as 2002 there were some experiments being done to disprove it's existence.  So don't hedge all your bets on concensus.   All scientific concensus needs is one good repeatable experiment to disprove it or at least cast doubts on a concensus.  

    Keep the discussion open as well as our minds.

  • Climate sensitivity uncertainties leading to more concern

    nigelj at 05:53 AM on 7 November, 2018

    The evidence points towards medium to high climate sensitivity, and didn't the recent research paper finding increased ocean heat content also point to high climate sensitivity?

    Yet the sceptical lobby are still claiming otherwise, and claiming no warming since 1998 (despite recent record temperatures since 2015 staring them in the face). It's beyond human comprehension.

  • Republican lawmakers react to the IPCC report – ‘we have scientists’ too!

    wilddouglascounty at 05:52 AM on 20 October, 2018

    I think you are right: the scientific community is pretty good about saying that increasing extreme weather event frequency and severity is attributable to changes in the earth's atmospheric and oceanic chemistry. But most of the public does not read scientific journals. Instead they read things like the following:

    "How climate change causes extreme weather"

    "Climate change causes severe storms that damage our homes, crops, and cost more than hundreds of millions in insurance claims." in

    "Climate Change Causes Extreme Weather Like Smoking Causes Cancer, Scientist Says" in

    "Where’s the proof climate change causes the polar vortex?" in

    ...and on and on and on.

    In the public forums that we are all part of, it benefits moving the discussion ahead if we keep bringing up the true causes of the changing climate, reminding folks that it's not some abstraction called "climate change," rather it is human emissions that are overwhelming our planet's ability to maintain a homeostatic balance.  That's all I'm advocating for, because we need to quickly shift gears to looking at ways to change those emissions.

  • SkS Analogy 15 - Ice Tea and Temperature Rise

    Sunspot at 04:00 AM on 18 October, 2018

    At the Arctic Blogspot they have been talking about this for a long time. Over there it's fearmongering. Here it's science. As for "One Planet's" comment - there is no cold mug to put the Arctic Ocean into. There are no cold rods to insert into it. And we are not going to refreeze it using frozen plastic balls or rocks from the freezer. So I fail to see any relevance to your points...

    But back to the article - doesn't this seem in contradiction to the IPCC notion that the Arctic Ocean can go ice-free, but then re-freeze magically and not be ice-free again for another 9 or 99 years. That is what the IPCC claims! In a warming world, with surges of warm water into the Arctic becoming more frequent, they think this is possible, even likely. Amazing.

    Science is all about looking at all possibilities. Even the watered-down IPCC report says that the human race is going to be in big trouble in less than 20 years. The Arctic Blogspot says we are in worse trouble sooner than that. Yet the IPCC, which tries to strike an acceptable balance between science and political reality, is considered pure science, while the latter is dismissed as hysterical. And that dismissal is not science. It just isn't.

    Oh, and for those who believe the future temp rise will be linear - do you really think that it will happen that way when this, and other, feedbacks start to seriously bite? Because that conclusion would also fly in the face of long-established science. Nature isn't big on linear change. She loves those exponentials! Ask Albert Bartlett...

  • Breathing contributes to CO2 buildup

    Lasterday at 23:08 PM on 7 October, 2018

    As a chemical engineer I feel it's misdirection to talk about the carbon cycle and say that an increase in human resperation does not add to atmospheric CO2. It may turn out to be a trivial amount, I'd have to find some numbers to guage it, but this post is meant to give a little background.

    If all the carbon on earth were solid carbon and suddenly you changed it all to gaseous CO2 (this can't actually happen according to the gas law) and did this back and forth and back and forth according to the "carbon cycle" argument since there's no change in net carbon we are supposed to ignore atmospheric carbon going from nonexistant to "lots" and back again. "Hey - the cabon cycle is balanced." If more CO2 is put into the atmosphere from breathing the "cycle" itself gets bigger, the partial pressure of CO2 increases. Since biomass is a scrubber of CO2 (plants eat CO2) then there could be a net effect if the additional CO2 isn't eaten by plants. That's the issue. So to me, whipping out the carbon cycle doesn't make a whole lot of sense. My quick take is figure the volume of the atmosphere and the CO2 percentage and get that amount (huge # of moles) and then figure the amount in the resperation of 8 billion more people and see if the CO2 exaled from people is of the same order of atmospheric CO2. And keeping in mind that everything is an estimate - we don't know how many moles of carbon or anything else are on Earth. We don't know the exact volume of the atmosphere - they are estimates. 

    It may not factor in, but saying "the carbon cycle accounts for more breathing" is misdirection, it is just saying the net amount of carbon on Earth is staying the same, and that's not what the issue is.  The net amount of gold on Earth is staying the same, too. Everything is - excepting new material from meterites and junk we send away in rockets that reaches outer space.  We should be arguing about the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere. 

    'Ol Wikepedia says this "The oceans of the world have absorbed almost half of the CO2 emitted by humans from the burning of fossil fuels."  It's like soda pop - if the ocean warms slightly, CO2 is released into the atmosphere increasing the partial pressure of CO2. Since the CO2 level seems to be cyclic

    perhaps periodic ocean warming is the culprit. People argue that the older peaks are not as high as the current peaks, but remember the latest data is from direct measurement, the older values are taken from ice core samples and perhaps while the samples show higher CO2 values the peaks are lost from gas loses at the sample boundries, handling issues, etc.

    Of course, industrial CO2 factors in.  Let's run some real numbers!

  • It's methane

    mondosinistro at 14:06 PM on 27 September, 2018

    Perhaps someone here can help me to clear up some confusion about methane and the Arctic. No one seems to be asking the question I have.

    OK, I got the memo: I'm supposed to be freaked out because arctic thawing is going to release methane from the clathrates on the continental shelf. A little red meat for you: Shahkova, Wadhams, Beckwith, others. They're the ones that seem to be screaming the loudest about this.

    Let's not get into the deep clathrates, or the land permafrost, as those releases are going to be pretty slow anyway. I'll stick to the clathrates on the Arctic Ocean continental shelf, which are shallow enough to be released quickly. Supposedly.

    The problem I have with all this talk is simple. The claim is that the global warming we're going to have (depending on whom you ask, either by 2100, or sooner, or even already) is going to cause a catastrophic release of methane from clathrates at shallow depths, where it can warm more quickly because it's really cold at those high latitudes. And we're told that this amounts to hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon.

    Well, it's also well known that the Earth's gas, oil, and coal was laid down over the last 500 million years or so; more at some intervals than others, but overall, over hundreds of millions of years. Now, during the last 400 to 500 million years, the Earth has often been warmer than now, by several degrees C. In fact, the Earth has been in this "hothouse" condition for most of that time.

    Then, if it's true that a warming of a couple of degrees C, or even say 6 degrees, is enough to release a big part of this stored gas catsatrophically, within a few decades (some, apparently, think within a matter of years), then how is it that there is even any methane left at all? It should have all been released long ago. In particular, that especially nasty time, about 250 million years ago, when all that H2S came out of the stinking ocean, should have eliminated all of the clathrates at that time.

    Sure, some clathrates could have formed later, but if so, how could those amount to more than all the coal and oil, as some are saying?

    For me, this doesn't add up at all.

  • New study reconciles a dispute about how fast global warming will happen

    Doug_C at 05:39 AM on 26 September, 2018

    MA Rodger @6

    1. I'm not looking at a bleak future, I'm looking at a very disturbing present, catastrophic climate change isn't soemthing that is going to hit at some undefined point in the distant future it is here now. What does an almost complete loss of coral reef systems alone mean to an overall ecological integrity, something that is almost inevitable now with the decades of warming already locked in with the CO2 we've already emitted. Every extra year of emissions is locking in futher warming years down the road. I'm very concerned about what is already happening with a full expectation it will get much worse even if we fundamentally changed course today which we have not.

    2. I'm going by what researchers like James Hansen have to say and acknowledging that much of research is conservative when compared to what we are actually seeing in a real world response. Whether it is ice loss, changing climate patterns and more. And some of them have made it clear they expect far more warming than the current predictions are estimating.

    3. As long as we are emitting billions of tons of CO2 a year the positive forcing will continue, some nations like the one I live in are still projecting decades of large scale fossil fuel use. The Canadian federal government just spent $4.5 billion dollars to buy a dilbit pipeline to enable a tripling of capacity of this one line of one of the most carbon intensive fossil fuels there is, oil sands bitumen. There is not going to be any leveling off of the radiative forcing of CO2 as long as we are rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 by burning fuels like oil sands bitumen. And the lag in ocean warming means that the CO2 we emit today is not going to be rebalanced for decades.

    4. It's not sea level rise that is going to set a long term limit on human forved climate change, it is going to be a thermal equilibrium in the oceans that will take centuries to establish based on the radiative forcing we have already created. The oceans are the main driver for climate and the main mechanism to move heat around the planet. This means there will be no such thing as stable weather and climatic conditions until this adjustment is completed. That alone is going to be a major stressor on people and entire biotas for those centuries.

    We are messing with one of the fundamental factors that makes life possible on Earth in a way that assumes we are in control of this incedibly powerful mechanism.

    I see no signs at all we are, the only choice we have now is how far we are willing to push it to cross tipping points some of which we almost certainly have not been able to define in any meaningful way yet.

    It's Russian Roulette on a planetary scale, so yes, I am very concerned.


  • California's response to record wildfires: shift to 100% clean energy

    Doug_C at 15:16 PM on 5 September, 2018

    Bob Hoye @21

    "Those preaching a disaster through climate may have to go a study a little geology. This is a preaching site that has nothing to do with the skepticism of real science."

    It's through studying geology that we know how mass extinction is intrinsically linked to climate change primarily through the atmospheric concentration of one gas long identified as the prime persistent radiative forcing agent in the atmosphere - carbon dioxide.

    That includes the Great Dying 251 million years ago with a high confidence that it was massive emissions of carbon dioxide from the Siberian Traps that triggered global feedbacks that eventually killed over 95% of life then in the oceans and over 70% of species on land.

    The end Triassic extinction was also probably another climate change induced extinction level event.

    The Deccan Traps and large scale release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases probably played a significant role in the End Cretaceous extinction.

    The fingerprint of CO2 and mass death is all over the geological record, which makes sense when you look at the basic physics. This site has a meter for anyone to consult that indicates how much heat is added to the Earth on a constant basis by the addition of billions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.

    It now stands at over 2.6 billion Hiroshima bomb heat equivalent units since 1998 alone. There's no way that much heat can be added to the global system without major impacts on climate as most of that heat ends up in the oceans which are the prime driver of climate globally. Able to store vastly more heat than the atmosphere and transport it around the Earth by ocean currents and by determining how atmospheric circulation behaves to a great degree.

    "Bob Hoye, B.Sc. geophysics."

    Working in the oil and gas sector perhaps...

  • California's response to record wildfires: shift to 100% clean energy

    Doug_C at 03:40 AM on 5 September, 2018

    It's also likely that the massive impactor that hit in the Yucatan region about 65 Mya triggered a dramatic increase in the flow of magma from the Deccan Traps in what is now India also releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide, resulting in climate change that took out about 70% of species on Earth at that time.

    Asteroid impact, volcanism were one-two punch for dinosaurs


    There's very little doubt left that rapid excursions in atmospheric carbon dioixde are associated with some of the most destructive periods in the Earth's past.

    250 million years ago it was continental scale flood basalts in what is now Siberia that drove atmospheric CO2 levels rapidly up in pulses that caused climate change that eventually killed almost life in the oceans and most terrestrial life.

    65 Mya an impactor hit what is now Yucatan and would have rung the entire planet like a bell. 11 on the Richter scale at the site of impact and 8-9 everywhere else on Earth. The Deccan Traps probably experienced an effect similar to soil liquifaction as a result of this massive tremblor, vastly increasing the release of greenhouse gases from this one source.

    All the evidence says to be very careful when it comes to rpaid changes in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and climate change. Especially when it comes to the impacts on the oceans.

    Where currently almost all the heat is going that is being downloaded from the atmosphere from the addition of hundreds of billions of tons of CO2 from human activities.

    Ocean Heat Content And The Importance Of The Deep Ocean

    And where all that additional CO2 has already resulted in a rapid acidification of the oceans which is hitting the web of life there right at its base.

    Ocean acidification may cause dramatic changes to phytoplankton



    Most of the official responses from policy makers worldwide seem extremely lukewarm compared to the magnitude of negative changes that have already occured with far more to come as it will take decades for the Earth to come back into a radiative balance with the CO2 we have already emitted due to the lag created by the vast thermal capacity of the oceans.

    We're relying on the lungs of the Earth to buffer us from a rapid warming of the Earth's surface and to absorb massive amounts of CO2 we emit constantly.

    And these factors have already altered the most important natural system on Earth in ways that are troubling to say the least.

    A dramatic change in policy in California needs to be followed by a dramatic change in policy everywhere that does reflect the existential nature of this process.

  • California's response to record wildfires: shift to 100% clean energy

    Doug_C at 02:49 AM on 5 September, 2018

    Bob Hoye @8

    Alarming new study makes today’s climate change more comparable to Earth’s worst mass extinction


    "In “High-precision timeline for Earth’s most severe extinction,” published in PNAS on February 10, authors Seth Burgess, Samuel Bowring, and Shu-zhong Shen employed new dating techniques on Permian-Triassic rocks in China, bringing unprecedented precision to our understanding of the event. They have dramatically shortened the timeframe for the initial carbon emissions that triggered the mass extinction from roughly 150,000 years to between 2,100 and 18,800 years. This new timeframe is crucial because it brings the timescale of the Permian Extinction event’s carbon emissions shorter by two orders of magnitude, into the ballpark of human emission rates for the first time.

    How does this relate to today’s global warming?

    Climate and CO2 have changed hand-in-hand through most of geological time. Mostly these changes happened slowly enough that the long-term feedbacks of Earth’s climate system had time to process them. This was true during the orbitally-induced glacial-interglacial cycles in the ice ages. In warmer interglacials, more intense insolation in northern hemisphere summers led to warmer oceans which were in equilibrium with slightly more CO2 in the atmosphere by adjusting their carbonate levels. In glacial times with less intense northern hemisphere summer insolation, the cooler oceans dissolved more CO2, and carbonate levels adjusted accordingly. The changes occurred over gentle timescales of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years – plenty slow enough for slow feedbacks like the deep oceans and ice sheets to keep pace.

    Rapid carbon belches, such as in the Permian and today, occur within the timeframe of fast feedbacks (surface ocean, water vapor, clouds, dust, biosphere, lapse rate, etc) but before the vast deep ocean reservoir and rock weathering can cut-in to buffer the changes. The carbon overwhelms the surface ocean and biosphere reservoirs so it has nowhere to go but the atmosphere, where it builds up rapidly, creating strong global warming via the greenhouse effect. The surface oceans turn acidic as they become increasingly saturated in CO2. The oceans warm, so sea levels rise. Those symptoms should sound familiar.

    Burgess et al’s paper brings the Permian into line with many other global-warming extinction events, like the Triassic, the Toarcian, the Cretaceous Ocean Anoxic Events, The PETM, and the Columbia River Basalts, whose time frames have been progressively reduced as more sophisticated dating has been applied to them. They all produced the same symptoms as today’s climate change – rapid global warming, ocean acidification, and sea level rises, together with oxygen-less ocean dead zones and extinctions. They were all (possibly excluding the PETM - see below) triggered by rare volcanic outpourings called “Large Igneous Provinces,” (LIPs) that emitted massive volumes of CO2 and methane at rates comparable to today’s emissions. The PETM may also have been triggered by a LIP, although that is still debated.

    Can we seriously expect Earth’s climate to behave differently today than it did at all those times in the past?"

    Even if this is a 1 in 1000 chance it's an incredibly poor bet to make.

    And as we're experiencing here already, the journey to total catastrophic collapse is not a nice smooth process. It is chaotic and at times very destructive.

    I'm pretty sure that as the oceans go through tipping point after tipping point as we drive them to a state of systemic failure, the impacts in human terms are going to be truly nasty.

    Like the estimated 1 billion people who depend on coral reef systems for their existence right now not having anything to eat in a few decades.

  • California's response to record wildfires: shift to 100% clean energy

    Doug_C at 02:11 AM on 5 September, 2018

    Bob Hoye @2

    It's not the direct effect of the CO2 that is concerning, it's the rapid warming that all that extra CO2 is causing on the oceans and the increase of ocean acidity with the additions of so much carbon dioxide(i.e.carbonic acid) to the oceans.

    This is already having a massive impact on coral reef viability which is rapidly heading towards zero globally. 30 years from now it's projected that 90% of coral reef systems will be dead with their huge biotas, up to 25% of life in the oceans now.

    This in conjunction with industrial scale fishing, much of it not regulated at all and ocean pollution at a high level.

    With the warming of the oceans, there is now a cap of warm surface water in many places as well blocking the mixing of atmospheric oxygen to deeper ocean levels creating vast areas of ocean with low oxygen levels where many species cannot survive.

    My concern with the oceans is that as life there is hit so hard at so many trophic levels, then how long will the overall biological structure remain intact.

    And it is that biological structure that is responsible for the production of most of the free oxygen most of the biosphere depends on for life.

    Almost a half of the condensation nuclei that gives us rainfall also comes from molecules produced by life in the oceans as well.

    We're seriously distrupting the key ecosystem on the planet and acting as if all is well.

    Here in BC we struggle to deal with wildfires, what emergency response is there going to be to rapidly dying oceans.

  • California's response to record wildfires: shift to 100% clean energy

    Doug_C at 11:02 AM on 4 September, 2018

    This is all good, but for many policy makers there still seems to be a serious lack of understanding of the true dimensions of the overall risk we all now face from climate change alone.

    About 50% of the great Barrier reef is now dead, a process that will eventually kill off most coral reef systems globally in a matter of decades. There are also things like increasing presence of low oxygen zones in the oceans that make the entire marine system less and less stable.

    Climate Change Is Suffocating Large Parts of the Ocean

    In conjuction with industrial scale fishing, illegal fishing and pollution, it's questionable how much more the oceans can take. The oceans are the main factor in oxygen generation of the Earth.


    Here in BC we have just had a positive development in an appeal court decision that declared the approval of the tripling of a dilbit pipeline to be biased and not objective at all removing approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It would have seen an increase in the flow of oil sands synthetic crude from about the current 350,000 to almost 900,000 barrels a day. There's an estimated 173 billion barrels of bitumen in the Alberta reserves, something that the Canadian PM has declared he wants to go after.

    In BC the provincial government - which although it was opposed to the TMX - has committed over $10 billion to build a large hydro-electric project(Site C dam) in the middle of the Montney gas formation that will almost certainly be used to power gas fracking for decades part of which will be turned into LNG to be sold internationally and some of which is sent to Alberta to be used in oil sands production.

    Site C Dam Montney formation

    Our governments here really don't seem to have any real sense of urgency even though BC is having some of the same catastrophic climate change impacts as California with record levels of flooding followed by heat waves and record wildfire seasons.

    For a time the due to the smoke from wildfires the air quality in BC was some of the worst in the world.

    BC air quality due to wildfires

    Even more frightening is the growing prospect of what happens when the the growing damage to the oceans reaches a critical level. Very poor air quality and record level widlfires are one thing, loss of oxygen producing capacity of the Earth is a nightmare scenario.

  • Comprehensive study: carbon taxes won't hamper the economy

    indy222 at 08:40 AM on 28 August, 2018

    To scaddenp: "wealth" = time-integrated real GWP is growing at 2% / year in the 21st century, on average. That's the INTEGRAL growing at 2%/yr. Power consumption is not money. It's a totally different thing - it's the energy consumption rate to support that GDP. That Power/Wealth should be end up being so closely constant over most of the accumulated history of all GWP since pre-history, is making a worthwhile statement. Are you trying to say that we could choose ANY time integral and any non-integral which are both functions of time, and get a constant ratio to the extent seen in the GR? That makes no sense.

    On the SRES scenarios, maybe our conflict is in just how realistic are. Garrett makes the observation that population, for example, is not an independent variable, it is a dependent variable - we grow to the maximum extent that we can. Improve energy efficiency, and we can grow FASTER, including population, and that's exactly what we do. It's the very creation of energy efficiencies which ENABLE growth, and then FORCE us to spend more ongoing energy to support that new growth, and enable FASTER exploitation of energy we can find because now we're a bigger industrial entity. Which we must, to support all past growth too against the forces of decay, into the future.  It's what we do. It's how we're built. Now, how do you take a world which lives off FF's and convert it to renewables at the pace indicated, without generating far more CO2 than shown in the graphs? FF and CO2 IS our energy source right now, and we're stuck with it. All the efforts we've so far done have doubled power consumption rates and yet CO2 generating FF's comprise an unchanged 87% of primary energy supply since 1973.  Could we do better? If we became a different species, perhaps, that CARED enough about the future to lower our FF consumption at the same time that we poured every dollar we could into decarbonizing. If we actually SACRIFICED our current comforts for the sake of future generations. But we don't want to do that, nor will we tolerate a government that tries to tell us that. Instead we install the kind of governments we see around us. But the GR shows that power consumption is closely proportional to Wealth, so all this spending is going to produce a lot of CO2 in the near term. 

    And too, none of this includes the inadequate climate physics in the "carbon budgets" cobbled by the IPCC at the insistence of the U.N. political representatives, whereby we grow more than we should now, in favor of kicking the can down the road so that later generations have to deal with figuring out how to massively pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and permanently sequester it. What kind of species does that?  Listen to the work of Kevin Anderson, of Vaclav Smil, of many other scientists and energy experts and IPCC members complaining of the UN interference in the IPCC process and how the carbon budgets that emerged are just wrong. And the missing physics: The rising ECS with climate state. The permafrost melt from much more dramatic Arctic Ocean ice loss than early models predicted, and resulting CO2 and methane emissions, etc.

  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #30

    ilfark2 at 02:33 AM on 31 July, 2018

    Considering Alley's work on abrupt climate change and the latest Siberian Traps research, global warming should be considered and immediate existential threat.

    As such, either keep a quasi market system (like WWII mobilization, but hopefully more equitable) or create a rational society that uses less energy, produces more free time and ensures we don't have this issue in the future (as very likely any market 'solution' would insure since markets have always tended to expand)...

    examples of rational societies are Paris Commune (worked well until French allied with German Capitalists to crush it), Catalonia for a few years (until Capitalists crushed it) and Rojova (in process of being crushed by Capitalists)... we know how to have a higher standard of living, using much less energy.

    In the US, the vast majority of people pumps tons of carbon to drive in a big circle to an activity that does not need to happen (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate); couple that with Graeber's bullshit jobs and we've a whole lot of folk that can help others do real (material) work. If automate most of this and localize production (Bookchin, et. al.), we could all have much better lives and save this set of evolution's species (what's left of them anyway).

    We could do this in a democratic way (as in Catolonia).

    Of course, I'm not too hopeful, considering folk on this very site talk about market incentives that might have worked, had they been implented at the turn of the 20th century (and yes folk knew about global warming even then... see Tyndall and others around that time).


    We might have 10 or fewer years to get to 0 emissions. Even the overly optimistic Paris Accord depend on carbon extraction that as of now we're not sure will work.

    So, yes, using markets, hoping for new technology, might work, but it doesn't seem worth the risk, considering possible scenarios.

    Notice also the recent study on the AMOC slowing and speeding up in a natural cycle, which of course means two things. It's going to get hotter in the next few years and we get to see if the paper's contention is true or if the extra heat in the newly claimed altantic (from the arctic) ocean will offset the mechanism from the past (the paper contends that in the past, more melting led to a slowdown which led to less tropical water delivered, which reset the cycle... of course that was before all the extra heat we've beening allowing our emissions to trap)

  • There are genuine climate alarmists, but they're not in the same league as deniers

    ilfark2 at 00:37 AM on 13 July, 2018

    It would be nice to have a full debunking of that arctic news blogspot. I went to the "deep dive" on debunking Guy McPherson and the person dismissed the idea that methane could be released on a massive scale by noting sea temps had been about the same 200k yrs ago (and it didn't happen then) and also that Archer does some back of the envelope calcs showing it won't be a problem.

    Note though that GHGs were about half what they are now, 200k ago.

    Note Alley's work (as someone mentioned above).

    Note Archer's history on various parts of artic behavior (e.g., permafrost in which he didn't include the effect of microbes), which he always corrects himself later on. But notice how his timelines have changed over the last 15 years.

    The problem with arctic news blog is it's harder to debunk than McPherson. They do cite lots of papers. Some of it is new lines of inquiry, but the direction they point is quite dramatic (Sharkova et. al., e.g.).

    Considering PETM and Siberian Traps events happened around 500 — 1500 ppm CO2, and Alley has shown a very good case that global climate can change in a matter of 5 years, and we've trapped a great deal of heat in the ocean that hasn't come out to play yet and we already have 2ce as much CO2 as 200k ago...

    They make a good point as to the possibility.

    What they don't really flesh out is that, if there is a sudden climate flip and many crops fail along with massive drought, the global capitalist system could grind to a halt for a bit. This could lead to a lot fewer particulates in the air, which could lead to very fast (others have researched this pretty well from what I can tell) warming.

    So please, Skeptical Science, fully debunk these guys. Point out what they are missing in your usual ultra thorough manner.

  • The latest weak attacks on EVs and solar panels

    nigelj at 06:46 AM on 9 June, 2018

    John ONeil, I think you suffer from some confirmation bias yourself. It's a common problem with everyone. I try to avoid this bias, so I  did a simple google search "advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy" and had a quick read of several different websites that covered this, so that I get a wide picture of what people are saying, rather than just a narrow view.

    I would suggest nuclear energy stands out from other forms of energy in the rather long lists of advantages - and disadvantages. You also need to look beyond just the physics, technology and time farmes of construction to the full picture of all the issues, so also include safety issues, environmental impacts of accidents and waste disposal, construction costs, public concerns etcetera.

    Cancer also takes decades to develop so nobody really knows the  outcome form Fukushima yet. It's wise to apply some commonsense, so given radioctivity is a known carcinogen, there are likely to be problems.  

    You are also only looking at one side of the problems at Fukushima and Chernobyl. These accidents caused considerable property damage and required mass evacuations of urban areas on a permanent basis. The costs of containing the cores of these reactors are huge, and will be ongoing for centuries. Fukushima polluted the local ocean and Chernobyl polluted a lot of farmland and had huge impacts on the Ukraines food exports.

    As a result nobody wants to be anywhere near nuclear plants. Its probably no accident that the only countries building them have autocratic or dictatorial governments, or a lack of other potential energy sources.

    However I have no opposition, provided safer nuclear designs are developed that offer affordable electricty. I also see no problem with a mix of energy sources, and we get a bit obsessed with the one perfect source which might not exist.

  • Climate Science Denial Explained: Tactics of Denial

    Art Vandelay at 09:24 AM on 19 April, 2018

    "if the ocean surface warmed up because less cold deep water were being exchanged with it), then sea surfaces should warm as fast as the land. And if global warming were caused by the sun, days would warm faster than nights; in fact the opposite is true." 

    Is this actually correct? 

    It's easy to test the effect of the sun on diurnal temperature range, becuse we can easily compare summer and winter data, and globally it appeaars that diurnal range decreases in summer - presumably due to increased water vapor from evaporation. In other words, any mechanism that increases earth's surface temperature will result in increased humidity and a reduced diurnal temperature range.       

  • American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus

    nigelj at 10:34 AM on 14 April, 2018

    NorrisM @19

    If I can add my two cents worth. I don't see how you can get from high confidence in 100% human attribution of warming, to a medium consensus. The IPCC doesn't publish any result unless theres a strong consensus among the review team.

    I look at the basics of the science behind this. There are only so many natural things that can plausibly cause a warming trend, including changes in solar energy output, big sustained changes in volcanic activity, possibly cosmic ray trends (still rather contentious) and longer term ocean cycles. Since the late 1970's the atmosphere has warmed, and theres no evidence these factors are currently causing a warming trend in recent decades. For example solar irradiance has been essentially flat.

    When you eliminate the possible and plausible natural causes, you are left with burning of fossil fuels and the greenhuse effect. Various characteristics of how the atmosphere has warmed since the 1970's also point towards CO2, called greenhouse fingerprints.

    Now nobody will claim 100% certainty, because its impossible to be 100% certain all data sets on these factors are 100% perfect, but when the IPCC says good confidence or high confidence it means the data sets and research are certainly good quality. Putting it another way, when they say high confidence, this is science speak for saying it would be very unwise to ignore what we are saying.

    I don't think its wise to base your information on potential future sea level rise on just one single research paper on the past geological record, actually. You would need to review everything published on the issue, and even then past information is of limited value and so is only part of the picture and needs caution. Having said that it's an interesting paper, so thanks.

    The underlying premise of the Rowling paper is not based on past history where ice volumes were three times presnet day volumes. They mention this in passing, but focus their main attention on the last interglacial (130 - 115 K ago), where ice volumes are similar to today, and note that when temperatures were approximately 1 - 1.5 degree above pre industrial averages, sea level rose about 7 metres total, at between 2.6 - 0.92 M century, (0.7M on average). They say there were probably shorter periods of more rapid sea level rise.

    It needs to be noted we are ar risk of warming the climate more than 1 - 1.5 degree. Unless I'm missing something in the article, we are therefore at risk of more than 7 metres total sea level rise, and probably faster rates per century.

    Their end conclusion is about 0.8 metre of sea level rise is likely by the end of this century, with 2 metres as the upper limit - but less likely. This is presumably assuming a worst case emissions scenario, and this is of course entirely a possible scenario.

    I do not see your 0.4 M number in the study, and it may be assuming slower emissions growth and low sensitivity of how ice sheets respond. Anyway its a middle range estimate of some sort, and personally I wouldn't count on it.

    There's nothing here to cheer about or be complacent about. Plenty of evidence points towards rates of ice loss being likely towards the pessimistic end of this scale such as recent behaviour of the greenland and antarctic ice sheets .

  • How could global warming accelerate if CO2 is 'logarithmic'?

    DPiepgrass at 15:57 PM on 30 March, 2018

    Tminus, that's interesting. I suppose it makes intuitive sense that heat added at the ocean surface would take a long time to leave, because the heat can migrate downward and stay deep for a long time before radiating from the surface eventually. On the other hand, 70-75% of sea level rise is due to ice melting so that's a larger concern. Here too, methane will help ice melt earlier. Clearly methane is a problem, but in this context it's a question of how big the problem is relative to CO2. Since CO2 causes ocean acidification and methane doesn't, on the whole I'm still inclined to think CO2 is much worse. But I'm not opposed to removing the word "much" in "much less serious".

  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #11

    Eclectic at 21:55 PM on 24 March, 2018

    NorrisM @19 , with your permission, I will jump into the fray also — with an overview.

    Judith Curry's recent articles on sea level rise exhibit typical Curryism.  She provides, at first glance, an impressively erudite summation of the field of (modern) sea level rise.  It is a complex area.  She quotes from the IPCC and and other sources, and in effect she states that somewhere in the region of 40 - 60% of recent MSL rise is clearly anthropogenic (from AGW).

    But there are three facets of Curryism here : 

    1.  Although the mainstream scientists know that around 100% of modern rapid global warming is caused by human activity (including more than simply CO2 effects) . . . this fact does not suit public acknowledgement by Dr Curry and her agenda.  Her clientele wish to hear that only a very minor part ( or none !! ) of global warming is caused by CO2 emissions — and to hear that AGW itself is a very small and temporary effect and will never amount to more than a limited inconvenience.  (And preferably hear that today's slight/insignificant warming is merely the result of "natural variability" . . . such as a 1000-year or 2400-year cycle, or the AMO and/or a Stadium Wave and/or due to ABC [Anything But Carbon] ).

    Dr Curry therefore presents her case in a way that implies that the very reasonable conclusion of 40 - 60% human attribution for sea level rise, must (by implication) point to AGW being far less than 100% human . . . and that therefore the mainstream scientists have gotten it wrong about warming.   Curry is happy to strongly hint, but never state that explicitly.

    2.  Another typical Curryism, is her careful avoidance of the bigger picture.   Readers who read her without making any effort to notice what she has avoided saying, will feel that she is giving a fair, balanced and dispassionate presentation.   But taking a longer historical view of sea level, one sees that Curry is restricting her comments to the narrow case of the recent century or so (and she prefers to draw the focus toward 1950 and later).  In that narrow window it is indeed possible to make a defensible case that cycles [however dubious] plus contributions from solar variability, the AMO, volcano eruptions, or other natural variability . . . can explain around half of [recent] sea level rise.

    But on the multi-century / multi-millennial scale, her explanations are twaddle.

    3.  NorrisM, you may also notice how very carefully Dr Curry delineates the various time-segments through the 20th Century up to 2017.  And she wishes to suggest validity of the post-1998 "Pause" in surface temperatures (and to minimize or not even mention the continuing oceanic heating).  And she places the last few years of high spike in surface temperature, in a separate post-Pause category . . . caused by the "super-Nino" (without acknowledging that it's an ongoing warming problem, not just an El Nino fluctuation).

    All very selective, all very denfensible in a court of law . . . yet at the same time rather obviously intended to mislead the unwary reader.


    NorrisM, if you have time, take a further read through the comments columns at the foot of Dr Curry's articles.  I confess to finding them quite entertaining — I usually skim through the repetitive nonsense coming from most posters there.  But yes you are right, JCH is usually fairly well on the ball, if rather short-tempered.  Nick Stokes is always worth reading, and provides genuine science.   And there is the admirable calmness of JimD as he continually puntures the nonsense of posters like "ABC" Ellison and the slightly less crackpot-ish Javier.  All good fun, but sadly illustrating the insanity of some of the tolerably intelligent sections of the human population.

    Also entertaining, NorrisM, is the way that on Curry's Climate Etc, the denialists who are scientifically/mathematically literate "medium crazies" have to keep turning around and putting down the "ultra-crazies" who come out repeatedly with way-off-planet ideas (ideas which are nevertheless still extremely common in the common ruck of denialists).  You hardly ever see that with the posters at WhatsUpWithThat . . . where craziness & anger run rampant continuously.

  • Burning coal may have caused Earth’s worst mass extinction

    nigelj at 06:56 AM on 17 March, 2018

    Aleks @24, thank's for the comments.

    "So, correct statement may be: “Burning coal is a culprit, but not CO2”.

    I doubt that its that simple. It's entirely possible the extinction during the permain was a combination of global warming from CO2 and methane released by a combination of coal burning and very high levels of mass volcanic activity, along with the considerable ash clouds and sulphur oxides and other toxic material released by the coal. We know all the factors are dangerous for life and all could happen simultaneously, so its certainly plausible. The evidence points that way.

    "At first, 2000 ppm is much less than 7000 in Cambrian or 4000 in Devonian period when both terrestrial and marine life was actively developing."

    These high levels of atmospheric CO2 were reasonably constant over very long periods of tens to hundreds of millions of years, so species would adapt easly enough. The problem is a more sudden spike of CO2 that causes global warming over hundreds of years to thousands of years, maybe a few million years, and this is much harder for species to adapt to.

    The Permian event was over a few thousands of years apparently and more important initiated quite suddenly. You can see from the graph in the Peter Ward article, and that other extinctions correlate with spikes in CO2 emissions in his graph.

    "Secondly, the increase of temperature can be explained by the release of heat into the atmosphere during combustion, without resorting to the theory of greenhouse effect."

    I doubt it. Provide a link to an explanation and full calculations.

    "Third, the combustion of coal is accompanied by the release of toxic gases SO2, NOx, and CO that kill living things both directly and through acid rains (SO2 and NOx)."

    Yes but see my comment above. This most probably combined with global warming.

    "Finally, the death of marine organisms is due to acidification of seawater by dissolution of SO2 and NOx and it triggered by H2S."

    CO2 also acidifies oceans. It's perfectly feasible that they all contributed.

    I'm not a chemist, but I wasn't born yesterday.

  • What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    Argus at 03:40 AM on 3 March, 2018

    The top post states: "White ice is reflective, but dark oceans aren’t. When sea ice sitting on top of the ocean melts, the Arctic surface becomes less reflective, absorbing more sunlight, which in turn melts more ice in what’s known as a “positive feedback.”

    It's not that simple. That's not the whole truth. The people who wrote that must live in quite another place, where the sun is above their heads.

    Here are a couple of factors that work in the other direction:  1.Ice covered by snow also acts like a blanket, and protects the relative warmth underneath it from escaping.  2.There is almost no sunshine in the winter to be absorbed in the Arctic; the angle of incidence of the few hours of sunlight available is just a couple of degrees, at which angle almost all radiation is reflected from the water surface.

  • Actions today will decide Antarctic ice sheet loss and sea level rise

    chriskoz at 11:58 AM on 2 March, 2018

    Antarctica is now discharging 1.93 trillion tons of ice each year, up from about 1.89 trillion tons per year in 2008

    When talking about SLR contribution, you should look at the ice mass balance, i.e. difference between accumulation and discharge. Accumulation number by itself is meaningless, esp. if warming sub-zeroC temperature results in higher snow precipitation. There is an abrupt tipping point though, when air temp reaches freezing point and snow turns to rain but Antarctica is far away from that point yet.

    The only sentence about the ice balance in the article

    When accounting for snow accumulation, the continent is losing about 183 billion tons of ice per year

    Doesn't say how much the balance has been changing in the last decade and if the loss's been accelerating. Hansen 2012, for example claims that the loos has been doubling every 7-10 years and that's the number we should concentrate on here as we talk about SLR prediction as antarctic IS loss wil be dominant contribution to future SLR. But the number's missing in the article.

    The interesting number to note though, is that ice mass exchange due to melting from below and accumulating from above is ATM 10 times bigger than the ice loss (simlarly to CO2 exchange with the ocean). I wonder if it's going to stay that way (i.e. snow precipitation steadily increases in the warming weather until an abrupt tipping point metionaed above) or we are going to see the ratio lowering as the gap in favour of melting inevitably increases. So far, the ratio is big enough so that, theoreticaly at least, we could slow down the melting by inducing more precipitation of we knew how (aerosol spraying?) before the radiation balance & climate is stabilised.

  • Models are unreliable

    Conradin sakison at 04:11 AM on 13 February, 2018

    I hold that it is a mistake to call the effects of fossil CO2 emissions "Climate Change". For a start, it is too mild. The effects could be Catastrophic Climate Change.
    But my point, with respect to models, is that climate modelling is far more difficult than the simple thermodynamic equation that was contained in the warning of Svante Arrhenius, about a century ago.
    For several millennia, except for the occasional huge volcanic eruption, the temperatures on Earth, or as we might more usefully call it "within the biosphere" remained within a range to which the living organisms had evolved to accustom themselves.
    Arrhenius showed that the thermodynamic balance between radiation received and radiation emitted depends upon the temperatures of terran surfaces being such as to emit radiation, mostly infrared, that balances what has to escape plus that which is recaptured by gases that turn it into their own kinetic energy, and share that.
    Arrhenius showed that carbon dioxide was indeed remarkably capable of capturing infrared radiation of exactly the range that comfortably warm and not-too-cold surfaces emit.
    It is a simple step from there to conclude that a rise in proportion of CO2 from 280 ppm to 400 ppm, which is today well documented, will cause the biosphere to accumulate heat annually at some rate that eventually gets it "warm" enough to emit more energetic infrared.

    The danger is that since the cause of the problem is that accumulation, but the rate of its manifestation is the rate at which snows and ice can melt, and entire oceans can warm, lots of people and even governments may fail to be convinced, until it's too late.

  • How to Change Your Mind About Climate Change

    nigelj at 05:55 AM on 8 February, 2018

    Michael Shermer is a psychologist, and author of Skeptic and The Moral Arc, both interesting books. From his book he was apparently a climate sceptic and general environmental sceptic, because of the overly negative failed predictions of the book Limits to Growth. But this was an early book based on a lot of huge approximations of resources.

    However Shermer  changed his mind, and accepted agw climate change and other environmental problems were real, after  reading various popular books by Tim Flannery, Jared Diamond,  and seeing Al Gores presentation on agw science. He cited Gore as a significant influence.

    So Al Gore converted at least one sceptic! And Shermer was converted by old fashioned factual information, and making the effort to read a few books, and there are great books out there.

    John Key, the moderately conservative leader of one of our political parties, became a convert to AGW after seeing a graph of the last 70 years plotting solar irradiance against temperatures, and it was clear to him that solar irradiance was mostly flat in recent decades, so is obviously not a driving factor. He is a currency trader, and so possibly very data orientated.

    This was something that also convinced me agw was real, because the sun is obviously such a powerful possible alternative theory. However not everyone relates to graphical information, and data on watts / sq m and things like this. 

    So some sceptics do change their minds simply through looking at the facts. They seem to be less strongly influenced by motivated reasoning and confirmation bias.

    And there seem to be many different paths to how they decide agw is real because different people seem to connect with different aspects. For this reason as a general rule presentations on climate change might be best to include a mixture of human interest, natural world material, and more abstract material on ocean processes and graphical trends.

    I do however agree with Knaugle that a certain group of deniers are very intransigent. They might never be convinced, even if sea levels rose 20 metres, or perhaps only then. I think the reason is that there are an overwhelming number of political, ideological and psychological issues combining together with this group. It's an additive thing. It's not just one thing.

    No doubt the denialists look at both sides of the debate, but see only what they want to see. They get very invested in a position, or strongly tied to the influence of a peer group,  and then its hard for them to back down, and pride wont let them admit they were wrong.

    We all know that shifting political beliefs can be difficult. However most people also have some desire to know the truth, and understand that science is about getting at the truth.


  • In 2017, the oceans were by far the hottest ever recorded

    nigelj at 06:45 AM on 28 January, 2018

    New Zealand currently has a heatwave, due to a combination of warm oceans, la nina conditions, and a stalled jet stream that is keeping colder southern air away, while northerly  tropical air flows down. We have set a record for the hottest January in history.

    I bought one of those Dyson fans (actually a fan heater, so I can use it in winter as well). I recommend this device. It's expensive, but has a very powerful fan with a focused stream of air, and a quiet fan.

  • Flaws of Lüdecke & Weiss

    Doug_C at 09:48 AM on 18 January, 2018

    It's a question of relative radiative forcings acting on the Earth's land surface, oceans and atmosphere.

    The periods of deep glaciation in recent geological times that have covered a large part of the Northern Hemisphere in thick ice sheets and dropped global temperatures for thousands of years are likely the result of the Milanchovitch Cycles which can reduce the amount of Solar irradiation at northern latitude. These are on the order of a few tenths of a watt per meter squared and act over thousands of years in a dry process of more snow and ice cover lasting longer and reflecting more sunlight back into space dropping temperatures and drawing down more carbon dioxide cooling things even more creating more snow and ice cover which reflect more sunlight cooling things further. It's a feedback loop than when most of the continents are near the Equator can cover almost all of the Earth in ice.

    The radiative forcing from the changes we have made in atmospheric CO2 alone are almost +2 watts per meter squared, we have totally swamped the natural focrings that have resulted deep glaciation periods.

    There almost certainly will be no transition to a glaciation period due to the human release of CO2 alone. The Solar Cycles are also not that significant in relation to the forcings of atmospheric CO2 in recent times, once again in the range of a few tenths of a watt per meter squared.

    Even a prolonged Solar Minimum is not going to result in a cooling trend on the Earth's surface now, it will only result in a slowing of global warming as long as the positive radiative forcing from carbon dioxide emissions and other human activities greatly exceed the possible negative forcings from Solar Cycles.

    And the overall trend in Solar activity is not a decrease in Solar irradiance, it is an increase. The Sun puts out far more energy now than it did say 500 Mya for instance.

    Appealing to the Sun to save us as papers like LW17 do seem far more religious to me than scientific.

  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #52

    nigelj at 12:32 PM on 4 January, 2018

    Rhoowl @25

    "Bullet 1 if that were the case then the planet would not have increased greening over the past 40 years. Plant are noticeably bigger and stronger now."

    CO2 has caused some greening, but this effect saturates fairly quickly. Amazon is already becoming a carbon source for example. 

    "Bullet2 the increased co2 may have some negative consequences in the future. If the tcr is low as predicted by many papers then the net effect of increased c02 will most likely be positive through increased food yields. Food yields have been increasing steadily."

    Read my comment @22 and the attached reference source in scientific american: Improvements in crop yields are small, and obviously negated by the negative effects of CO2 emissions

    "Bullet3 not sure how the increased absorption of co2 into the seas will create a negative effect. The biosphere has been increasing its absorption capacity of co2."

    Co2 absorption makes the oceans acidic (strictly speaking less alkaline) This causes damage to corals and shellfish because the acidity damages their shells. It's not just these organisms, because acidicication affects the whole food chain negatively and we have evidence that it has caused mass extinctions in the past. Refer the scientific american article below:

    "Bullet4 yeah...but we need to burn it now....we need energy and and the greens refuse to consider the nuclear option. If co2 is what you want to reduce then nuclear ome of your best option"

    The Greens do not run the government or power stations Currently generating companies and governments are not interested in the nuclear alternative because of high capital costs, and slow buiding and regulatory process. We have other alternatives such as solar, hydro, wind and geothermal and costs are becoming very cost competitive with coal and gas. Refer cost of electricity by source on wikipedia.

    "Bullet5 yeah...wars are fought over fossil fuel energy.....another good reason to embrace nuclear"

    Wars will be fought over supplies of uranium, which would become stretched by building massive numbers of nuclear power stations. The resources of wind and the sun are free. Materials used for wind towers are abundant. 

  • From the eMail Bag: Carbon Isotopes, Part 2: The Delta Notation

    chriskoz at 11:54 AM on 30 December, 2017

    Digby Scorgie@4,

    As jbpawley noted above, it's not easy to compute the balance of FF carbon in atmosphere from δ-value if you don't know the isotopic preference of carbon sinks such as ocean & biosphere. As we can see from e.g. annual cycles of keeling curve, about 4-5 times more carbon is exchanged between biosphere and atmosphere, comapared to what is added to the system from FF. CISRO graph in the article  is a measure of a strong correlation (pretty amazing BTW) rather than the carbon balance.

    There are other methods for measuring the amount of FF carbon in the atmosphere. For example by checking Declining oxygen concentration because adding 1 mole of C into atmosphere by burning FF must take 1 mole of oxygen (O2) from it. Other processes involving O fluxes (photosynthesis vs. respiration) are in balance. So you can calculate from the graph therein how much C (that burnes to Co2) and H (that burns to H2O) have been burned. 100% of H2O was taken by ocean, while only some 50% was taken by ocean & biosphere. Knowing all of that, and if you know the proportion of C & H in FF we burned (we do), then you can confirm quantitatively how much CO2 increase to expect from a given O2 decline.

  • There's no empirical evidence

    Eclectic at 23:53 PM on 29 December, 2017

    Gail @331 , you will have to explain what you mean by a "relative measurement".   That's a very odd term !

    In absolute terms, the energy imbalance [i.e. rate of energy gain by the planet] is in the region of 2.0 - 3.0 watts per square meter (if I recall the figure correctly! ).  That is, gain averaging "per square meter" planet-wide 24 hours per day 365 days per year.  Doesn't sound much — equal to a small LED bulb — but do your math and multiply by 510 million square kilometers planet-wide year after year . . . and you can see why hundreds of cubic miles of ice are melting, the sea level is rising on an accelerating path, plants & animals are changing behavior and location, and the ocean is warming (also causing a rapid temperature rise in the thin planetary layer we call "the surface").

    The speed of warming is something you should educate yourself about (you will best look at more appropriate threads & articles on this SkepticalScience website).   As a heads-up, the ballpark figure for warming to an equilibrium . . . is that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 produces eventually around 3.0 more likely 3.5 degreesC surface temperature rise.   How much of that we get now depends on how quickly we stop adding CO2 to the air.

    Of course, for your own lifetime and the lifetimes of your grandchildren, you will more immediately be concerned with the "transient" [= short-term] speed of planetary response.   Already we have had around a 1 degreeC rise in little more than a century — so it's going on at a galloping speed.

    But do please pursue the matter on more appropriate threads.  This particular thread is more about the mechanism of global warming & its connection/causation by human industrial activity — and both those points have been determined beyond all doubt (though there's always a "Flat-Earther" who likes to argue against all the evidence  ;-)  

  • Ocean acidification isn't serious

    Michael Schroeder at 01:37 AM on 29 December, 2017

    A question on ocean acidification from a non-scientist historian who's abidingly concerned about anthropogenic global climate disruption (and teaches freshman college students about this stuff in a first-year seminar on "People & the Planet" at a small liberal arts school in Central PA): 

    I'm reviewing climate change denialist Gregory Wrightstone's book, "Inconvenient Facts" (2017), and I'm a bit puzzled by one of his assertions.  On p. 110 he writes: 

    "During the Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian periods of the early Paleozoic era (543-416 million years ago), CO2 usually exceeded 4,000 ppm, reaching a maximum of nearly 8,000 ppm in the Cambrian period.  The later was ~20 times today's concentration.  When we compare CO2 levels to the rock record from the author's home turf in the Appalachian Basin of the eastern United States, we find that most of these CO2-enriched periods were dominated by limestone deposition.  Limestone deposition could not have occurred had the oceans been 'acidified'.  Most of the limestone was deposited during the periods of highest CO2 concentrations." 

    Thanks to this website and the references in this comments section, I've been able to find ample evidence discounting most all of Wrightstone's other assertions on ocean acidification, but this one has me puzzled.  How were marine organisms able to make hard shells, and deposit massive amounts of limestone, when atmospheric CO2 (and oceanic carbonic acid levels) were so high?  It's my understanding that when atmospheric CO2 reaches ~550 ppm, CO2 absorption by the oceans & the spike in oceanic carbonic acid levels renders marine animals incapable of forming hard shells.  So how were these huge limestone deposits created when atmospheric CO2 levels (and oceanic carbonic acid levels) were so high?

    Thanks in advance for helping me (and my students) understand the science involved here.

More than 100 comments found. Only the most recent 100 have been displayed.

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

© Copyright 2020 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us