Quote of the week

what a thing to say

An unimaginable proposal

“As a result — and for reasons that remain unexplained — the waters of the Southern Ocean may have begun to release carbon dioxide.”

Scientific American makes the most illogical statement I’ve heard in a while.

If there’s no reason for this event, why would one propose it?

An event is proposed for which no cause can be imagined. The author proposes something he has no reason to believe — or proposes something but can’t imagine why. This is nuts. It’s not science.

I’d like to read the paywall-defended paper. The abstract in Nature directly contradicts the SA story, saying clearly: “The role and relative importance of CO2 in producing these climate changes remains unclear.”

So how does “Scientific” American justify their subhead? They say:

“The relatively pleasant global climate of the last 10,000 years is largely thanks to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

Is that science or sentiment?

There are other questions. The SA article makes it plain that carbon dioxide concentrations melted most of the ice, explaining that, after the Southern Ocean (may have) released carbon dioxide, raising concentrations by more than 100 parts per million over millennia:

“That CO2 then warmed the globe, melting back the continental ice sheets and ushering in the current climate that enabled humanity to thrive.”

But one of the graphs shown in Nature refers to a 2001 Nature article “Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations over the Last Glacial Termination” using data from the Dome Concordia ice core record that claims an increase in CO2 of 76 ppmv over 6000 years. That’s a long way short of 100 ppmv — where did it come from?

The CO2 concentration near the end of the last glaciation looks to have been around 180 ppmv. Looking at the MODTRAN graph of temperature response to CO2 levels, which drops to a trivial response once it climbs to around 180 ppmv, it doesn’t seem credible that a rise of 100 ppmv, causing a temperature increase of perhaps 0.1 °C, would be enough, even over millenia, to deglaciate the planet.

The researchers acknowledge that other forces were at work. I think it’s obvious the forces were far more powerful than CO2 and the researchers should admit that.

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7 Thoughts on “Quote of the week

  1. Richard C (NZ) on 06/04/2012 at 12:04 pm said:

    It’s obvious the forces at work were far more powerful than CO2. but that possibility doesn’t occur to the CO2-forcing mob; they hyperventilate when the Fox Glacier calves but where is their angst for all of Fiordland’s glaciated valleys sans ice?

    Conversely, what caused the glaciation? If it was low levels of CO2 (it wasn’t), why would anyone in their right mind advocate low levels of CO2?

  2. In my view we need to focus on the assumed problem, namely carbon dioxide and, to a lesser extent, methane perhaps. If I refer to trace gases take it to mean these, because I refuse to call them greenhouse gases.

    We have what we have in the Earth’s total system. Somehow, in some way we may never fully understand, a long-term near equilibrium situation has developed. We have some energy being generated in the core, mantle and crust, most likely by fission I think, but I won’t go into that. But it does set up a temperature gradient from the core to the surface which is very stable below the outer kilometre or so of the crust. However, it may vary in long-term natural cycles that have something to do with planetary orbits. Likewise, the intensity of solar radiation getting through the atmosphere to the surface may also vary in natural cycles which may have something to do with planetary influences on the Sun, and on the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit and on cosmic ray intensity and on cloud cover, ENSO cycles etc.

    There is much to be learned about such natural cycles, and we have seen papers by Nicola Scafetta for example which appear to provide compelling evidence of the natural cycles. I believe that in fact such natural cycles are quite sufficient to explain all observed climate change, including what has happened in the last half century or so, right up to the present. The world has just been alarmed because the 1000 year cycle and the 60 year cycle were both rising around 1970 to 1998, just as they did by about the same amount 60 years earlier, and 60 years before that and no doubt further back. We cannot escape the obvious fact that there is a ~1000 year cycle which is due for another maximum within 50 to 200 years. Then there will be 500 years of falling temperatures.

    But the central issue is whether or not trace gases are really having any effect at all on climate.

    In my paper I have explained the physics of heat transfer and demonstrated why trace gases cannot have any effect whatsoever on what we call climate.

    Climate may be thought of as the mean of temperature measurements, usually made in the air between 1.5 and 2 metres above the ground. Thermometers are affected by the thermal energy in that air near the surface. As you can read here thermal energy is distinct from heat. It is transferred by molecular collision processes (conduction and diffusion,) by physical movement (convection) and by radiation. . The energy in radiation is not thermal energy. Thermal energy is first converted to electromagnetic (radiated) energy and then that EM energy has to be converted back to thermal energy in a target. Hence, in a sense thermal energy only appears to be transferred by radiation.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics (SLoT) tells us that in any (one way, independent) spontaneous process, entropy cannot decrease unless external energy is added. There are no two ways about it. If spontaneous radiation emanates from a cooler object (or atmosphere) its EM energy cannot be converted back to thermal energy in a warmer target, such as Earth’s surface. This point is not debatable. A violation of the SLoT cannot be excused on the grounds that there will be some subsequent independent process (maybe not even radiation) which will transfer more thermal energy back to the atmosphere. If you disagree, you are mistaken.

    However, the radiation from a cooler body can affect the radiative component of the cooling of a warmer body. Although such radiation undergoes what I call “resonant scattering” this does involve the “resonators” in the warmer body and uses up some of its radiating capacity. Because the incident radiation supplies the energy, the warmer body does not need to convert an equivalent amount of its own thermal energy. Hence it cools more slowly.

    But, the resonating process involves all the (potential) different frequencies in the incident radiation. There will be far less effect when there are limited frequencies as is the case for radiation from a trace gas in the atmosphere. Furthermore, the effect depends on the temperature of that gas and is less when it is cooler. It is far less from space (equivalent to about 2.7K) and so there is no slowing of cooling for that portion of radiation which gets through the atmospheric window.

    The remaining radiation (when we look at net figures, not all that backradiation) represents less than a third of all the cooling processes from the surface to the atmosphere. The other non-radiative processes can, and will, simply speed up in order to compensate, because they do so if the temperature gap increases. There are further reasons discussed in Q.3 in the Appendix of my paper.

    So there is no overall effect at all due to trace gases on the rate of cooling of the surface. Thus there can be no effect upon climate.

    Discussion on this continues on this thread.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 07/04/2012 at 10:30 am said:

      You need now to really take it to the warmists by extending but simplifying your argument on 2 ocean-centric fronts I think Doug because the atmosphere is a bit player when it comes to heat:-

      #1 Oceanic geo heat sources.

      The background 44TW geo flux is accounted for in climate models as a globally averaged 0.087 W.m2 flux but although attempts have been made, hydrothermal heat is not. The attitude of climate science is that because it is only localized to seismically active zones it is negligible and atm conditions “probably” (no papers) modulate seismicity. The geo scientists on the other hand point out that seismic activity occurs in climate critical areas such as the eastern tropical Pacific and have published papers supporting seismic activity modulating atm conditions e.g. ENSO.

      Moreover, most of the hydrothermal venting occurs at 2000 – 2500m just below where “unexplained” heat is building up in the 700 – 2000m layer. The warmists are positing (no mechanism of course) that the 700 – 2000m heat was imputed to the ocean by water vapour and trace gases (GHGs) including water vapour) and somehow escaped detection by ARGO and is moving DOWN from the surface. They have model studies (Meehl et al) to support this of course. They refuse to entertain the notion that there is a heat source immediately below the layer from which heat moves UP. I can support all of the climate scientist attitude described above from an email exchange with Kevin Trenberth.

      #2 Negligible heating or insulation effect by water vapour and trace gases (GHGs) at the ocean surface.

      The warmists position is that ALL the recent rise in OHC was imputed to the ocean in some way (no mechanism except for Peter Minnet’s bastardized cool-skin effect) but because GHGs are ineffective as either heating or insulation agents at the ocean surface (H&Q and others that climate science chooses to remain ignorant of) the heat must come from the ONLY two sources – solar and geo variations. Because of this, thermosteric sea level rise CANNOT be attributed to anthpogenic cause. The only possible way left then for the warmists is ice sheet melt and since there’s nothing untoward going on there they have NO case for anthro SSL rise (cannot be CO2 absorption because a warm ocean outgasses).


      The more concise each case can be encapsulated (a synopsis), the more chance there is of holding a readers attention before their eyes glaze over IMO i.e. USE BULLET POINTS.

      The IPCC has made huge communication inroads by use of their executive Summaries For Policy Makers (SPMs) which only bares a passing resemblance to WG reports but point being: the general populace and more importantly, people that matter (policy makers) don’t read and assimilate long screeds and scientific papers – they absorb bullet pointed summaries that they can repeat ad-lib later from memory.

      The scientific argument has already been won Doug, the battle now is on the communication front and you have to learn from the experts e.g. PR, mgt reports and IPCC SPMs.

      I think that your comment was excellent but you are preaching to (some of) the converted here Doug. The crunch comes when you go to a warmist site (try Hot Topic here in NZ) or take your case to a govt institution (as I have e.g. PMSAC, MftE Climate Change and as NZCSET is doing in court). Then, no matter how good your scientific understanding is, unless you can win points with your case (gain concessions) in those forums you are whistling in the wind e.g. after a series of exchanges with the NZ MftE Climate Change Office last year, the only concession I gained after putting a case based on 7 key climate metrics with concise, hotlinked, bullet pointed cases (over 30 citations) for each was for them to concede that it was to be expected that natural variability could dominate for periods of one or two decades over a century scale

      It is very difficult to get say MftE CC to recognize a paper like Scafetta (I’ve tried) because it is not IPCC-approved material. Their citation for natural variability was the hopelessly lightweight (as compared to Scafetta) Easterling and Wehner 2009. In view of that, we are a long way off a breakthrough on the communications front

      The next battle I see is to communicate publicly the 2 opposing paradigms and to point out that those that the media regard as “sceptics” (Lindzen, Monckton, Spencer et al) are actually luke-warmers subscribing to the same paradigm as warmists (GHE warming/cold space) and that the ACTUAL opposition are those that subscribe to the GHE cooling/neutral space paradigm so we need to move on a bit.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 07/04/2012 at 4:45 pm said:

      Should read – “ALL the recent rise in OHC was imputed to the ocean in some way [by GHGs]”

  3. mwhite on 08/04/2012 at 8:59 pm said:

    “As a result — and for reasons that remain unexplained — the waters of the Southern Ocean may have begun to release carbon dioxide.”


    “Solubility of Gases in Water”

  4. Peter Fraser on 09/04/2012 at 3:20 pm said:

    Poor Milankovich he must be turning in his grave.

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