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  1. Their results are robust, it is just their conclusions, the inferences they draw from these results, which are flawed. Implied in what they are saying is that because a warm ocean surface produces more atmospheric CO2 then the rise in CO2 must be due to global warming and not to the burning of fossil fuels.

    It is well known that the solubility of carbon dioxide in water decreases with temperature so it should be no surprise that CO2 levels rise when SST’s rise. What they are missing is that this is a positive feedback loop. More CO2 produces more warming. This leads to higher SST’s and more CO2. The same thing seems to have happened during the Termination of the last glaciation. Solar flux over the South Pacific increased as a result of Milankovitch cycles. CO2 increased, which amplified the warming and, as a result of the positive feedback loop, the ice age ended abruptly. That is why CO2 lags the temperature rise shown in the Antarctic ice cores. But of course other positive feedbacks were also active including the ice albedo feedback.

    So there is nothing new in Humlun et al.’s paper. They are just another bunch of sceptics that don’t understand system science.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 11 Sep 2012 @ 3:09 AM

  2. One has to wonder why people like Humlum never seems to notice a peculiarity in figures like Fig 2 (rate of change for CO2 and T). The CO2 rate of change curve is always positive, whereas the T rate of change curve is sometimes positive and sometimes negative. To express it as simply as possible: when temperature goes up, CO2 goes up. When temperature goes down, CO2 still goes up.

    That should at least be a hint that changes in temperature are not sufficient for explaining changes in CO2.

    Comment by Lars Karlsson — 11 Sep 2012 @ 3:42 AM

  3. Nice article,
    However, it begins:

    “Are the rising atmospheric CO2-levels a result of oceans warming up? And does that mean that CO2 has little role in the global warming? Moreover, are the rising levels of CO2 at all related to human activity?

    These are claims made in a fresh publication by Humlum et al. (2012). ”

    Those aren’t claims, they’re questions. I know that’s a bit pedantic but it’s an important distinction. If they make the claims that the questions allude to you should cite them.

    Warwick

    Comment by Warwick — 11 Sep 2012 @ 4:32 AM

  4. Another key flaw in the paper is that they suggest there should be a correlation between DIFF12 of atmospheric CO2 and DIFF12 of annual anthropogenic emissions. However one would expect atmospheric CO2 to rise in proportion (i.e. the airborne fraction) with *cumulative* anthropogenic emissions. So the expected relationship should be between DIFF12 atmospheric CO2 and annual anthropogenic emissions itself. Essentialy they are expecting a correlation between the gradient of atmospheric CO2 and the *curvature* of anthropogenic emissions. Hardly surprising then that there isn’t much of a correlation!

    I wrote a pre-bunking of Murry Salby’s yet to appear article for Skeptical Science (http://www.skepticalscience.com/salby_correlation_conundrum.html), and Humlum et al. have made exactly the same error.

    Comment by Dikran Marsupial — 11 Sep 2012 @ 6:04 AM

  5. Furthermore high frequency carbon dioxide fluctuation occurs mainly because of changes in the terrestrial biosphere fluxes, during el nino the ocean actually is a sink of carbon dioxide because of the reduced upwelling of carbon rich waters, the opposite occurs during la nina.
    http://www.met.rdg.ac.uk/~mat/hadcm3lc/paper.pdf

    Comment by gp — 11 Sep 2012 @ 6:27 AM

  6. The authors have also done some interesting hand-waving regarding volcanic activity and climate impacts. They write,

    “Perhaps eruptions larger than VEI=6 are required to affect the global
    atmospheric composition and climate significantly, but there has been no eruptions of this
    magnitude during the study period.”

    VEI: Volcanic Explosivity Index See, http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/largeeruptions.cfm

    According to the listing there has not been a single eruption during the Holocene with a VEI > 6.

    “On the time scale investigated here,
    the dominant effect of volcanic eruptions appears to be increased removal of CO2 from the
    atmosphere by the oceans, presumably caused by volcanic eruptions affecting the global cloud
    cover, and thereby resulting in lower ocean surface temperature.”

    How convenient.

    Comment by BillS — 11 Sep 2012 @ 7:50 AM

  7. Of course academic decorum dictates that this trio are handled here with kid gloves. You describe them as “misguided” but these are also recidivists. The poor level of their scientific judgement can be assessed courtesy of the Heatlandesque “Klimarealistene” who provide the PDF of Humlum et al 2011.
    The highlight of this 2011 paper is perhaps the high frequency end of their 4,000 year analysis (which had a resolution of a couple of decades). Tabular lists of cycles include those at 79 and 58 years without a word of mention in the text. Do bear in mind the ampitude of the biggest cycle in this 4,000 year analysis couldn’t manage even half a degree celsius. The unmentioned 79 & 58 year cycles are presumedly miniscule in comparison.
    So I wonder how it is that the 4,000 year analysis didn’t identify the same powerful cycles found in the shorter 1912-2010 analysis, cycles of frequency 60 – 90 year with ampitude of possibly 1.2 degrees celsius, “dominant” cycles, “stable with regard to both magnitude and frequency” that “characterise the entire record” from 1912 to 2010. Were these powerful cycles absent over a millenial scale, unseen before 1855? The analysis is silent so their absence appears a safe conclusion. Could it be their recent appearance is due to some recent phenomenon, rising CO2 for instance? Is this yet more evidence of a ‘hockeystick-type’ change in Earth’s climate?
    Apparently not. According to the Misguided Trio they are all explainable as beat frequencies of an 8.8 year cycle and guess what, the Lunar orbit has just such a frequency. So it is all pure lunacy!!

    Of course any reviewer worthy of his hire would have pounced on the following quote with a vengence – “The difference in record length and time resolution between the (4,000 year) GISP2 record and the (1912-2010) SvalbardMAAT series explains why many of the periodic variations found in the Svalbard series are not apparent in the GISP2 series, and vice versa. Many?” You mean ‘none’ and your explanation is complete pants!!!

    “Klimarealistene” have yet to post the Trio’s latest paper in full but it will be worth waiting for. I do enjoy a good laugh!!

    Comment by MARodger — 11 Sep 2012 @ 8:00 AM

  8. BillS,

    According to the listing there has not been a single eruption during the Holocene with a VEI > 6.

    Try Tambora, 1815.

    From the quote: “…presumably caused by volcanic eruptions affecting the global cloud cover, and thereby resulting in lower ocean surface temperature.”

    Could be a matter of terminology but the main cooling effect of large volcanic eruptions comes from the injection and formation of sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere, where clouds don’t (usually) form. The proliferation of these aerosols is adequate to explain the drop in insolation and subsequent reduction in SSTs. Of course, there could well be subsequent positive feedbacks whereby cloud changes caused by lower SSTs impart a further cooling but that assertion would probably require more than ‘presumably’.

    Searching the literature some papers do refer to ‘stratospheric aerosol clouds’ as opposed to water vapour clouds in the troposphere so it’s possible their sentence is simply ambiguously worded.

    Comment by Paul S — 11 Sep 2012 @ 8:48 AM

  9. The errors in the paper are so obvious that I’m not sure they even deserve this much discussion. It almost lends the conclusions credibility. I would reduce the critique to a few simple points,such as…

    1. If increasing CO2 is due solely to a warming ocean, why is the annual rate of change in CO2 always positive while the annual change in SST is often negative (see Figs 2 and 3)?

    2. It is the consistently positive mean annual change of atmospheric CO2 that creates the long term trend, for the most part. A correlation that explains variations in annual change in CO2 does nothing to explain this positive mean rate of change.

    3. How could pH be decreasing and aqueous pCO2 in the ocean be increasing if the ocean is a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere?

    4. Where do Humlum et al. think all the anthro CO2 has gone?
    The real question is why didn’t the peer reviewers require answers to these (and other) obvious questions? Is it too much to ask for logical consistency, appropriate interpretation of statistical analyses and adherence to principles like conservation of mass?

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 11 Sep 2012 @ 9:26 AM

  10. It may be useful to know that the authors are known “contrarians” in Norway, who have argued in various non-peer-reviewed periodicals (in Norwegian) in recent time that observed warming is due to naturals cycles. It is therefore a fair assumption IMHO that they set out with the conclusion in mind and worked diligently until they created the “evidence” they needed.

    Comment by GWS — 11 Sep 2012 @ 9:30 AM

  11. The source of the ‘new’ carbon in the atmosphere, beyond the natural fluxes, is revealed by isotopic geochemistry. This is ‘old’ carbon depleted in 14C and from photosynthetic fractionation (read ‘fossil fuels’). The BEST group ‘discovered’ the link between CO2 levels and warming, perhaps some day klimarealistene will also.

    Comment by mark48 — 11 Sep 2012 @ 10:24 AM

  12. There is bad science that needs ignoring, and bad science that needs retracting. Which is this?

    (I know what I think, but I doubt the editors would listen to me.)

    Comment by Didactylos — 11 Sep 2012 @ 10:48 AM

  13. Thank you for this analysis. I knew this paper would be slaughtered sooner or later, given its premises and its mere repetition of rather well aged skeptical arguments. Wonderful job though, so thanks again. RC rocks!

    Comment by Jacob — 11 Sep 2012 @ 10:59 AM

  14. The influence of an El-Nino on CO2 fluxes from oceans and land is no surprise at all. There is a paragraph in the IPCC AR4 report where this issue is mentioned:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch7s7-3-2-4.html

    Despite what one might intuitively assume it is not the warming of the oceans that influences the CO2 flux during/after an El-Nino, but several processes on land, e.g. see figure 4 and 5 in:
    http://eas8803.eas.gatech.edu/Reading_Materials/Bakeretal2006-IAV.pdf
    Some information of the CO2-rich water being replaced by water with less CO2 induced by El-Nino can be found in:
    http://climate.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/2006Feely.pdf
    It is visualized on the following NOAA website:
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/elnino.html

    If a lay person can find this rather quickly on the internet, Humlum et al should have mentioned all this. In my opinion they should be ashamed of themselves.

    Comment by Jos Hagelaars — 11 Sep 2012 @ 11:08 AM

  15. This analysis is not complete without reference to Troy’s work, which shows that even his own model, which has CO2 forcing temperature, gives an apparent *lag* of CO2 versus temperature in the Humlum methodology.

    Link here:
    https://troyca.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/comment-on-the-phase-relation-between-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-and-global-temperature/

    Oh, and Rasmus, Troy is looking for a co-author willing to do the hard work…

    Comment by Marco — 11 Sep 2012 @ 11:11 AM

  16. @gp (#5): Thanks for the information. The Jones et al. 2001 article you link to is a serious analysis, and by comparison, a good reminder of the crankness of this debated article as well as other tries (M. Salby, L. Hocker, W. Spencer,…the skepticalscience site is a mine of information on this topic) which amount to just attempts at rediscovering tepid water, followed by wild conclusions.
    Bseides, the interesting part of the analysis of the ENSO effect on CO2 variations is that the land (biosphere, pedosphere), not the ocean, is the main source of CO2 during ENSO events.
    If the contrarian view (anthro CO2 excess rapidly homogeneised into the entire 38000 GtC ocean and recent CO2 rise mainly due to ocean outgassing) had any validity, then dCO2/dt should be maximal during the La Nina events, or at least compensate for the land sink.

    Comment by Yves — 11 Sep 2012 @ 11:21 AM

  17. Oops… R.Spencer, of course

    Comment by Yves — 11 Sep 2012 @ 11:22 AM

  18. RE: #8 Paul S.

    Ahhh…right you are! I missed it, thanks.

    If they are going to state as one of their conclusions (#7) that

    “On the time scale investigated, the overriding effect of large volcanic eruptions appears to be a reduction of atmospheric CO2, presumably due to the dominance of associated cooling effects from clouds associated with volcanic gases/aerosols and volcanic debris.”

    wouldn’t it be helpful to be a bit more definitive about the causes of such a reduction? Just a thought.

    Comment by BillS — 11 Sep 2012 @ 11:44 AM

  19. I thought this linked plot that I have constructed would add some grist for the mill in the discussion of short term (on a monthly scale) CO2 concentration and LT temperature relationship.

    http://i161.photobucket.com/albums/t231/Occam_bucket/CO2TempCorr.gif

    The plot shows a comparison between the deviation of monthly global LT temperature from its linear trend line and the deviation of the rate of CO2 change from its exponential trend curve. Or in other words it shows a deviation from the expected temperature vs. a deviation from the derivative of expected CO2 curve.

    You can see a highly significant correlation which appears to be close to coincident. The R^2 value is 30%, but if you lag the temperature data by 2 months you would get a 33% value – which I doubt is significantly different but there might be something to that fact. Lagging the CO2 values on the other hand causes R^2 to drop off quickly.

    I am not an expert so I won’t offer opinions on the meaning of it all as there are many complicating considerations that might explain the time relationship between CO2 and temperature changes and/or the measurements themselves. However it seems clear to me that the short term CO2 fluctuations are caused by the short term temperature changes. It is easy to see from a physical perspective that a change in absolute temperature could impact the rate of change in CO2, but the converse does not seem physical, i.e. acceleration of CO2 concentration (regardless of absolute concentration)causing temperature changes.

    This plot says nothing about long the term relationship.

    I am sure this is not news to the climate scientists, but I found it interesting to see graphically.

    Comment by Occam — 11 Sep 2012 @ 1:19 PM

  20. (Basically the same message as gp’s and Jos Hagelaars’, but some more information.)

    Relationship bewteen El Nino and CO2 budgets is also shown by Japan Meteorological Agency here http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/obs-env/cdrom/report/html/exesum_e.html (Executive Summary of the Annual Report on Atmospheric and Marine Environment Monitoring, No. 11), in the figure titled “Time series of the NINO.3 deviation and estimated monthly CO2 fluxes from land and ocean areas estimated by inversion analysis”. This is an estimate of global CO2 budget (though the rest of the report discusses more local features). El Nino events (peaks in the yellow curve which shows Eastern Equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature) tends to coincide with peaks of the net land-to-atmosphere CO2 flux (the green curve. Note that a certain reference value has been subtracted). Their full report (in Japanese) http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/obs-env/cdrom/report/html/2_1_2.html says that net loss of carbon from terrestrial biosphere by drought condition in Southeast Asia is responsible at least in the 1997/1998 El Nino event(Watanabe et al., 2000; Patra et al., 2005. Their list of references is here http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/obs-env/cdrom/report/html/2_1ter.html .

    Comment by Kooiti Masuda — 11 Sep 2012 @ 1:32 PM

  21. Thanks for this article because there is no doubt that Humlum will be quoted as proof by the denialists for the next 5 years. Those problems with the statistical tools are things that should have been learned in school.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 11 Sep 2012 @ 1:54 PM

  22. All these helpful graphs appearing on this thread are clouding the main point to take away from the discussion. I had hoped the graphs of Dikran Marsupial that he linked to @8 would be the things to demonstrate clearly and conclusively the arrant nonsense in Humlum et al 2012, but they are perhaps too numerous and use synthetic data.

    So using GISS & MLO data and ripping away the smoke and mirrors, this appears to be the full substance of Humlum et al 2012. (Usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment’) I would suggest that calling it “arrant nonsense” is perhaps being too generous!

    Comment by MARodger — 11 Sep 2012 @ 2:37 PM

  23. Seems to me if the paper is a poorly done as the article and comments here indicate, more pointed questions should be directed to the journal that published it– http://www.journals.elsevier.com/global-and-planetary-change/#description. Is it a credible journal? I do not have the time or expertise to evaluate the matter (although the top “popular download,” “Thermal pollution causes global warming”, by B. Nordell [Global Planet. Change 38 (2003), 305–312] doesn’t sound too promising).

    Comment by Toby Thaler — 11 Sep 2012 @ 3:03 PM

  24. Toby: Thank you for pointing me to a great oeuvre I had previously overlooked: Bo Nordell not only published his 2003 GPC paper, but a 2009 paper in the International Journal of Global Warming (http://www.zo.utexas.edu/courses/THOC/Nordell-Gervet2009ijgw.pdf). Sadly, some scientists who think that understanding atmospheric physics is necessary for publishing climate papers published rebuttals (http://www.ltu.se/cms_fs/1.5035!/covey%20et-al%20gpc%20vol%2047%20p72-73.pdf and http://www.ltu.se/cms_fs/1.5035!/gumbel-rodhe%20gpc%20vol%2047%20p75-76.pdf). Fortunately, the great Nordell was unperturbed, as can be seen in his two replies to said comments (http://www.ltu.se/cms_fs/1.5035!/nordell%20gpc%20vol%2047%20issue%201-%20p74.pdf, http://www.ltu.se/cms_fs/1.5035!/nordell%20gpc%20vol%2047%20issue%201-%20p77-78.pdf).

    Actually, really sadly is that my first first-author climate paper was in fact published in Global Planetary Change, and every dumb skeptic paper that appears there makes my paper feel that much less worthy…

    Comment by MMM — 11 Sep 2012 @ 3:55 PM

  25. Toby,

    That Bo Nordell paper is a hoot. He’s claiming in that article that the warming we’ve seen since 1880 was mostly caused by heat released from burning fossil fuels, and not at all from GHG’s. The journal sounds very fishy.

    PS: The same Bo Nordell wrote this ditty in 1988 in support of dowsing:
    http://www.ltu.se/cms_fs/1.5014!/dowsing.pdf

    Comment by Robert Murphy — 11 Sep 2012 @ 4:11 PM

  26. Because confusion is a human trait that might not be easily or directly caused by El Nino and CO2, I might suggest a title revision to “Confused researchers bothered by El Nino’s effect … ”

    On the other hand, I wonder, perhaps hypoxia actually did cause the confusion.

    Comment by richard pauli — 11 Sep 2012 @ 5:09 PM

  27. Have a lot of crazy stuff from Nordell wrote one article to discredit his nonsense cure for all kinds of pain… the “Crystal Plaster” basicly a plaster with rocks in it… but all my debunks are in Swedish.

    Comment by Magnus W — 11 Sep 2012 @ 5:24 PM

  28. This paper could become a classic for postgraduate courses in the carbon cycle, with students asked to come up with at least two reasons why it does not stand up to scrutiny. Back in the 1950s, Rafter had considered the idea that increases in CO2 might come from a warming ocean but his very early (pre-bomb) work on radiocarbon measurements showed that the difference between the surface ocean and atmosphere was not large enough to be consistent with that. Then Keeling’s work at Scripps deliberately included 13C measurements and provided stronger evidence again that the ocean could not be a source.
    As already mentioned, for the Humlum et al paper to do an analysis like this without treating the ENSO variability quite explicitly is just trying to fit it to a subjective opinion rather than doing an objective analysis.

    Comment by Martin Manning — 11 Sep 2012 @ 6:20 PM

  29. I tried to understand some of the relationships between CO2 fluctuations and temperature fluctuations, and got plenty of evidence confirming the ENSO relationship. If you try to correlate various global temperature time series with the CO2 fluctuations on interannual time scales, the cleanest coherences with the most-interpretable phase relationships come from the time series that include SST data (e.g., not the satellite-based tropospheric time series). The interesting feature was that the phase between CO2 and global-average temps changed in the late 1970s. This change is best seen in the frequency domain, not the time domain, because the change went from a simple time lag in the early part of the data series to a 90-degree phase lag (i.e. CO2 varies with the first integral of global temps).

    see

    http://earth.geology.yale.edu/~jjpark/Park_2011_CO2coherence.pdf

    Park, J., Evidence for oceanic control of interannual carbon cycle feedbacks, American Journal of Science, 311, 485–516, DOI 10.2475/06.2011.01, 2011.

    For SVD-lovers, there are a few cases where I reconstructed phase delays at all the GLOBALVIEW CO2 recording stations with 30 years of data, suggesting that, although the pacing of the ENSO-scale CO2 variations in the far northern hemisphere is tied to tropical SST variations, the signal probably originates from terrestrial plants via rainfall variations (and not the continental temperatures themselves).

    Comment by Jeffrey Park — 11 Sep 2012 @ 6:42 PM

  30. People the world over readily accept the scientific fact that changing a patch of South Pacific from warm to cool by only a couple of degrees C, and the resulting comparatively narrow El Nino/La Nina current across the Equatorial Pacific to South America, can have a profound effect on the weather. Not only here in the United States, but to a lesser degree Europe and Africa. On the other hand, transforming a much closer, (boarders in many cases), highly reflective patch of earth from significantly bellow freezing to dark open water above freezing, a difference of 10′s of degrees C and couple that with an area that is larger than India and it is just going to be no problem! Get real. I am telling you, Science is telling you, and the on the ground reality is telling you we have trouble here. Of course vested interests are spending big bucks trotting out “red herrings” as fast as they can. Perhaps that must be factored into the attitudes of the masses, you think?
    Time to toast the deniers, not the Kidders…

    Comment by Leif — 11 Sep 2012 @ 7:45 PM

  31. There’s an interesting take on Humlum et al here:

    http://troyca.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/comment-on-the-phase-relation-between-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-and-global-temperature/

    Where the ‘Diff12′ approach is tested against the ‘one-box energy balance’ model and shows the same kind of results the paper does. Looks like a nice refutation to me. The author freely offers the technique to be used by anyone who would like to get it peer-review published as a refutation to the paper.

    Comment by Grumalg — 12 Sep 2012 @ 2:05 AM

  32. You can see Humlum (Sadly invited på the Swedish royal acadamy, why? Feel free to ask them.) having a really bad debate here here: http://kva.screen9.tv/#6xOBFturYGoDFhodx5SU6Q
    http://kva.screen9.tv/#iEH5CzCOHF9oylk1Dh-ViQ

    Thankfully Scott Denning also where there.

    Comment by Magnus W — 12 Sep 2012 @ 2:54 AM

  33. As usual, you do a very nice job of taking down the specific “analyses” and assumptions in Humlum´s “paper”, Rasmus.

    However, as a terrestrial ecologist, the part I find most troubling about their main claim about non-anthropogenic CO2 rise is that nobody apparently challeged them on the isotopic data C13/C12 ratio and the decline in C14 (as briefly mentioned by #11 and #27), or pointed them to e.g. Sabine et al. (1994) or just any research demonstrating that oceanic carbon content has increased steadily along with atmospheric CO2. Even ignoring all problems with their short timescale and the ENSO link, this alone should dispel with the old idea of oceans being a source for atmospheric CO2.

    Humlum & co. even have the audacity to quote a 1997 JGR paper by Nakazawa et al. (http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1997/96JD02720.shtml) which makes the ENSO link, the C13 decline in atmospheric CO2 and the necessary link to fossil fuel combustion unambiguously clear in the abstract:

    “Values of δ13C decreased secularly at a rate of about −0.03‰/year, owing mainly to increased amounts of isotopically light CO2 produced in fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. Interannual variations of the long-term trend of δ13C in association with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event and other factors were clearly observed, which were almost opposite in phase with those of the CO2 concentration”.

    - which is, of course, simply ignored by Humlum et al., who just quote this as a useful “continuous in situ measurement” of SH CO2.

    Thus, it sure seems like these authors have gone through quite some trouble to remain “unaware” of the wide body of decade-old research already having debunked their hypothesis. And as you well know, it has been pointed out to Humlum several times that his oceanic CO2 idea is ridiculous, but he just simply keeps repeating the old points.

    Humlum is also well known for fiddling with nonphysical curve-fitting:

    http://uppsalainitiativet.blogspot.dk/2011/12/vadan-med-polynomanpassningar.html?showComment=1323850074427

    – and we had a healthy debate on Ole Humlum´s contradicting himself several times on the page klimadebat.dk (in Danish) recently. http://www.klimadebat.dk/forum/part-4-opdaterede-sol-is-temp-hav-data-d12-e2045-s160.php

    On his climate4you page, he first states that “global warming stopped in 1998″, just judging by eyeballing. Next, he produces a curve with global warming “stopping in 2002″, but with another completely random choice of a break point in 2002. On yet another place on his same page, he suddenly produces this graph with a linear increase in temperatures:

    http://www.climate4you.com/images/GlobalTemp%20HadCRUT3%20since1850%20LinearFit1908-2008%20C4Y.gif

    where he now claims that “The whole warming period since 1908 may therefore bee seen as representing one single development, not showing a new trend corresponding to the rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases after the mid-1970s”. Of course, all this is just “blog science”, which would likely have trouble getting past even the sleepy reviewers of this paper.

    I would like to hear the opinion from Rasmus or anyone else taking a look at Humlum´s record: Does anybody seriously think that Humlum honestly believes all this internally contradictory stuff himself? Or that he, being a geology professor, really is legitimately unaware of the basics of the last 3-5 decades of carbon cycle research – which is something that most biology/geology undergraduates would readily know?

    Personally, I think it is time for competent scientists in the field to publicly call Humlum by his appropriate name: a liar.

    Comment by Christoffer Bugge Harder — 12 Sep 2012 @ 4:39 AM

  34. Christoffer Bugge Harder: Personally, I think it is time for competent scientists in the field to publicly call Humlum by his appropriate name: a liar.

    More charitably, “crank.”

    Comment by dbostrom — 12 Sep 2012 @ 12:48 PM

  35. Leif at #30 wrote:

    “People the world over readily accept the scientific fact that changing a patch of South Pacific from warm to cool by only a couple of degrees C, and the resulting comparatively narrow El Nino/La Nina current across the Equatorial Pacific to South America, can have a profound effect on the weather. Not only here in the United States, but to a lesser degree Europe and Africa.

    On the other hand, transforming a much closer, (boarders in many cases), highly reflective patch of earth from significantly bellow freezing to dark open water above freezing, a difference of 10′s of degrees C and couple that with an area that is larger than India and it is just going to be no problem! Get real.”

    Nice comparison, one I hadn’t thought of.

    Comment by wili — 12 Sep 2012 @ 2:44 PM

  36. Doug Bostrom: It is perhaps not really that important, but to my mind, a crank is someone who has lost (or never possessed) contact to reality, typically either an overconfident Dunning-Krügerish amateur sometimes clearly suffering from a mental disorder like e.g Christopher Monckton, or an once-respected scientist like Nils-Axel Mörner, who strolled into dowsing and “Erdstrahlung” at some point nearing retirement – i.e, somebody whom you would recommend never to leave home without being properly equipped with a high-quality tinfoil hat.

    In contrast, Humlum is a well respected (and, indeed, rightly so) scientist within his field, geomorphology, not nearing retirement, with no inclination towards conspiracy theories, and there is no indication that he has any special political or economic interests. He has published extensively about mineral sequestration and mountain formation which shows no lack of understanding of biogeochemical cycles.

    I have occasionally heard, read and seen him in Denmark or Norway talking about different subjects, and I must say that when talking about his favourite canard of an oceanic source for the CO2 increase, he leaves a quite distinct impression that he does not really believe what he says. In many other aspects, he is reasonable and keen on acknowledging weaknesses and errors, and quotes peer-reviewed research. But when confronted with the obvious (but friendly posed) questions about how to reconcile his “CO2 increase driven by the oceans”-meme with the facts on isotopes and the oceans being a major net carbon sink, he suddenly turns to strange “common-sense” arguments. First, he just says that his “temperature drives CO2″ argument did not necessarily have anything to do with the ocean being the source. When then asked about what the source for his temperature-driven CO2 increase might be if it were not the oceans, he then states something like “well, the oceans are the main carbon deposit, while the atmosphere is only an “intermediate deposit” – now wouldn´t you expect the main deposit to control the overall distribution”? When finally confronted with the basic fact that the oceans have, in fact, long been shown to actually have a net influx from the supposedly “intermediate deposit” in the atmosphere, he then just delves into sanctimonious rubbish about nature being so big and mankind so small and how there were many things we still did not know and how it was important to keep an open mind and maintain a nuanced debate etc. etc.

    He is a perfect example of the kettle defense “I never borrowed it, I delivered it back in perfect condition, and by the way it was already broken when I first borrowed it”. Everybody rational realises that when one argues like this, one is out on a limb. Most of us have used this kind of defense occasionally when we suddenly find ourselves in a hole, but most people then quietly bow out and try to avoid broaching the subject again later. Humlum just repeats the same nonsense over again, year after year, apparently figuring that he will not be called in the next audience. I have no idea what his motivation might be, but he is neither an amateur, nor an obvious ideologue or a nutter. He speaks to an often numerate audience and he still has a reputation to think of. Therefore, I think that it would be appropriate to officially suggest – politely, calmly and clearly – that Ole Humlums arguments can be taken apart by simple textbooks on the carbon cycle (and often have been), that a skilled researcher of his class surely is aware of such basic facts, and that he thus most likely does not believe what he says himself. I might be naive, but it might just force him out of the hole to publicly show that he has no clothes, and make the media interested in looking beyond the annoying “brave heretic”-framing.

    I would be very interested in hearing other views/experiences on this.

    Comment by Christoffer Bugge Harder — 12 Sep 2012 @ 5:53 PM

  37. This comes from a non-scientist who appreciates your site’s focus on facts.
    I’m in California and we watch the ENSO report closely. There’s been a nice correlation between the existence of El Nino conditions and wet winters for our area. Much of California is semi-desert and this is a big deal for us.
    As you know El Nino arises when a relatively small patch of the Pacific is warmer that usual. Apparently it works to direct the jetstream farther south than usual.
    My question for you folks is this: with AGW acting on the oceans, are we likely to see El Nino conditions more often in the future (i.e., generalized warming translating into localized warming)? Is this why the long-term climate models show less future aridity for California than for the rest of the U.S. Southwest?

    Comment by s.b. ripman — 13 Sep 2012 @ 5:56 PM

  38. Science and geography is great combination to explain this issue.

    Comment by matmin — 14 Sep 2012 @ 2:46 AM

  39. The Humlun paper came up at Taminos, and I commented there re “…changes in atmospheric CO2 are not tracking changes in human emissions.” I downloaded Mauna Loa CO2 from http://www.woodfortrees.org/data/esrl-co2/mean:12/from:1959.7/every:12 and anthropogenic CO2 emissions from http://co2now.org/images/stories/graphics/carbon-budget/global-carbon-budget-2009-data-co2now.pdf, and found that the correlation between Mauna Loa CO2 and 315 + 0.21 * CO2E is 0.99948496, with a 95% confidence interval of 0.9991 to 0.9997 – whadda they want, 6 nines?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 14 Sep 2012 @ 3:54 AM

  40. This paper is waste of energy. The same result it is enough to look at Keeling curve. During NH Summer the CO2 levels are going down while emissions continue so it is obvious that ” changes in atmospheric CO2 are not tracking changes in human emissions”. It is the same logic of using small perturbation to understand the main phenomena.

    Comment by Eyal Morag — 14 Sep 2012 @ 10:05 AM

  41. 37 sbripman asked, “with AGW acting on the oceans, are we likely to see El Nino conditions more often in the future”

    I’m also a layman, but I’ll note that you’re looking at a specific result of El Nino which applies when the arctic sea ice is intact and temps are as they are today. Change those two things, and I’m not sure the link between El Nino and your precipitation will remain. Scientists here and elsewhere have stressed that regional results are wicked hard to predict. Other than that, I’ll join you in awaiting more expert opinion.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 14 Sep 2012 @ 8:28 PM

  42. Cant believe it… how could have this article go through review process? I almost tend to think about a kind of conspiracy theory… lets give an analogy.

    Let’s suggest I have a cancer. As a result of it I fall down more often than before, and this falling causes increasing blood pressure. When I get up, blood pressure goes down. However, with increasing frequency of falling, my blood pressure goes through the roof after several years, until I die. However, doctor would conclude, that cancer has nothing to do with long-lerm increasing blood pressure, since I was falling before, and blood pressure went up too!

    That is crazy…. right?

    Comment by Alexander Ač — 16 Sep 2012 @ 12:00 AM

  43. #36 Christoffer Bugge Harder:

    I think I came across some “lukewarmish” site of Humlum some years ago…. thank You for this insightful elucidation of some skandinavian insider knowlege.

    All the best,
    Marcus

    Comment by Marcus — 16 Sep 2012 @ 5:26 AM

  44. Hi Rasmus: if they don’t agree to share their data, you can always try an FOI request.

    I think you are nitpicking. You only identify weakness in 4 aspects of the paper, “the analysis, the physics, reviewing past literature, and logic”. You should give them credit for things they did right, like spelling their own names.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 16 Sep 2012 @ 2:13 PM

  45. I am amazed that this nonsense was published in an otherwise reputable peer-reviewed journal. Is it worth writing a “Comments on…” for submission, or is this a case where the less attention paid the better?

    Comment by Raymond Arritt — 17 Sep 2012 @ 12:50 PM

  46. #41 Jim Larsen says: “you’re looking at a specific result of El Nino which applies when the arctic sea ice is intact and temps are as they are today. Change those two things, and I’m not sure the link between El Nino and your precipitation will remain.”
    Thank you for helping me to a broader perspective.

    Comment by s.b. ripman — 17 Sep 2012 @ 4:41 PM

  47. It seems to me that the simplist challange to this paper is the math of the C02 going in and out of the atmosphere as shown at:

    http://www.globalcarbonproject.org

    2009
    “Fuel sources contributed 30.8 gtons CO2
    Land use changes contributed4.0 gtons CO2
    Land and ocean sinks removed 57%
    Humans added 3.7ppm to the atmosphere
    Land and ocean sinks removed 2.1ppm
    Atmospheric CO2 increased 1.6ppm
    2010

    Emissions from fossil fuel and cement
    Fossil fuel CO2 emissions increased by 5.9% in 2010, with a total of 9.1±0.5 PgC emitted to the atmosphere (33.4 Pg of CO2; 1 Pg = 1 billion tons or 1000 x million tons). These emissions were the highest in human history and 49% higher than in 1990 (the Kyoto reference year). Coal burning was responsible for 52% of the fossil fuel emissions growth in 2010 (gas 23% and liquid 18%). Read

    CO2 removal by natural sinks
    Natural land and ocean CO2 sinks removed 56% of all CO2 emitted from human activities during the 1958-2010, each sink in roughly equal proportion. During this period, the size of the natural sinks has grown almost at the same pace as the growth in emissions, although year-to-year variability is large. There is the possibility, however, that the fraction of all emissions remaining in the atmosphere has a positive trend due to changes in emissions growth rate and decline in the efficiency of natural sinks.”

    There is variability in the ocean uptake of C02, but this should not be confused with the ocean being the source of C02.

    Comment by bibasir — 17 Sep 2012 @ 5:50 PM

  48. This explains it all.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARJK0MWAITM&feature=related

    Comment by Vendicar Decaruan — 19 Sep 2012 @ 9:19 AM

  49. We are talking about a super short period of monitoring at the 1000hPa level, correct?
    It may behoove us to determine the levels up to 10hPa, wouldn’t it?
    Several sensors dropped to the bottom of the ocean systems, measuring temperature and constituent levels wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    Comment by AlaskaHoundish — 19 Sep 2012 @ 9:27 PM

  50. “We are talking about a super short period of monitoring at the 1000hPa level, correct?”

    No, Not correct.

    Comment by Marcus — 19 Sep 2012 @ 10:46 PM

  51. 46 sbripman, that was the nicest thing I’ve ever seen posted on the internet. Your spouse is very lucky.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 19 Sep 2012 @ 11:08 PM

  52. The problem with Humlum et al.’s paper starts right at the beginning with their hypothesis and methods. Rather than revealing the underlying trends in the (CO2 and temperature) data (their stated goal) their mathematical manipulations actually removed those trends. What their methods did reveal are secondary signals superimposed as those long-term trends of increasing CO2 and temperature. The phase relationships of the secondary signals – the gist of their further analyses – don’t necessarily tell you anything about the phase relationships of the underlying trends. Those secondary signals are, in fact, feedback signals, and, as such, the secondary temperature signal must always precede the CO2 signal. Because the limits of the period analyzed leave us out on an essentially linear (if you were able to successfully remove all the “noise”) “limb” of the modern CO2-temperature episode, it would not be possible to establish the phase relationship of the underlying signals – you would need to “see” either the starts or the peaks of the two signals to determine that phase relationship – exactly what has been done in the case of the paleo data.
    What is unfortunate is that there may well be something interesting lurking in the results of this type of analyses. If the peer-review process had worked properly in this case, the authors might have been challenged (admittedly not likely given their apparent prejudices) to defend their methods and, as such, may have come to see the basic flaw in their logic, remove their erroneous conclusions, explore the valid implications of their results and reveal something worthwhile about the Real Climate.

    Comment by R. Pardi — 20 Sep 2012 @ 5:06 PM

  53. I would like to see the graphs scaled at the estimated immediate response climate sensitivity rate. If Xppm rise in CO2 should result in YC increase, then it would be useful for them to be of the same visual size. I’m suspecting that if that were done, the CO2 curves would be much smaller. If so, then CO2 simply can’t drive temperature at these time scales, and the result is pre-ordained?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Sep 2012 @ 10:51 PM

  54. “Scientists here and elsewhere have stressed that regional results are wicked hard to predict.”

    “Science and geography is great combination to explain this issue.”

    As a non-climate scientist, I occasionally turn to turn to climate science literature to see what specific regional predictions are being made that may be relevant to my own line of work (fish systematics and zoogeography). Consequently, I have seen the sentiment expressed in the two preceding quotes appear often on this website.

    Although my limited reading of the primary climate science literture makes clear that there is a rich and abundant literature using time frequency and phase effects from climate relevant physical observations (ie temporal autocorrelation), I see much less use and detailed discussion of spatial autocorrelation among such contributions. While presumably the “difficulty” in making predictions is do at least in part to the well known phenomenon that slight change in boundary conditions can dramatically affect the magnitude and even direction of solutions to differential equations, this particular discussion prompts a more general question of exactly how do climate scientists attempt to statistically correct for obvious asymmetries in planetary regionality imposed on climate models by positional effects of highly irregular terrestrial and oceanic boundaries?

    Pointers to how climate scientists take into account spatial effects and specific results that demonstrate how statistical methods sensitive to and correcting for spatial effects have been used to address this issue would be appreciated. Perhaps a more roust discussion of spatial effects might well better elucidate cause and effect among measured variables on a regional, if not global scale.

    Comment by Stuart — 23 Sep 2012 @ 2:27 PM

  55. As an academic note, I don’t like the NOAA ESRL policy statement you quote:

    “If the data are obtained for potential use in a publication or presentation, ESRL should be informed at the outset of the nature of this work. If the ESRL data are essential to the work, or if an important result or conclusion depends on the ESRL data, co-authorship may be appropriate. This should be discussed at an early stage in the work. Manuscripts using the ESRL data should be sent to ESRL for review before they are submitted for publication so we can insure that the quality and limitations of the data are accurately represented.”

    Data is data. I think it’s fine for ESRL to be listed as a coauthor if their data is essential to the paper, but I do not think it’s fine that they should act as gatekeepers for the use of their data in general–which they seek to do when they say they should review papers prior to submission. Is it a good idea for a researcher to get ESRL’s input on whether things are working out? Sure. But should the researcher be obligated to get ESRL’s input? No way.

    [Response: I agree. If data are online they are usable by anybody as long as they are properly cited. There are of course many mistakes that can be made and these can often be prevented by talking to the data originators, but pre-review and publication veto power are inappropriate. I'm a little surprised at this statement though - I know of nothing similar in other climate data repositories. - gavin]

    Comment by Jonathan Teller-Elsberg — 30 Sep 2012 @ 8:03 PM

  56. I’m surprised the Humlum paper wasn’t published in E&E. Surely that journal’s overdue for another corker.

    Comment by Rod — 1 Oct 2012 @ 8:03 AM

  57. Gavin:

    A question about your response to Jonathan Teller-Elsberg (30 Sep 2012 @ 8:03 PM). Is your concern about the NOAA ESRL policy due to the fact that they make their data available to all up front? For example, would you object if agreement to their policy was required prior to access to data in the first place, or do you think that any publicly funded original data source should release data unfettered immediately upon its collection?

    I favor the idea of free access, but don’t know what other important factors may be at play.

    Steve

    [Response: Not sure what you mean. I think it's great that they make data available up-front and they should continue to do so. There is a quite widespread feeling among data originators that doing so will allow other people who don't know what they are doing to mis-use it (and that certainly happens), which is why a policy statement like the one for ESRL was written. However, I think that is pretty much unenforceable and not sensible in the first case - people don't have time to do the research that they want to do, let alone vet everyone else's screw-ups. So the alternative is to simply let the data out into the wild and rely on the peer-review process (or post publication review process) to weed out the more dubious uses (and that mostly works out). - gavin]

    Comment by Steve Fish — 1 Oct 2012 @ 10:04 AM

  58. Gavin (1 Oct 2012 @ 10:04 AM):

    Thanks.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 1 Oct 2012 @ 12:47 PM

  59. > people who don’t know what they are doing to mis-use it

    Maintainers of web pages where data sets are publicly available could coordinate a moderated response to that.

    If maintainers would provide a recognizable consistent button — next to the data ‘download’ button — they could have _available_ to, as time allowed, accumulate references/links/comments on published (or blogged) claims that supposedly relied on the data set.

    Moderated so the septics wouldn’t use it for advertising.
    Basically — not saying _do_ a lot of work, but just do what “hypertext” was supposed to do for us, give one list of pointers right next to the source, “this data referenced in”
    ——

    Simpler:

    Does Google Scholar’s “cited by” button work for published data?

    It should.

    Maybe with a rating icon, for stuff not peer reviewed.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Oct 2012 @ 11:06 AM

  60. “So the alternative is to simply let the data out into the wild and rely on the peer-review process (or post publication review process) to weed out the more dubious uses (and that mostly works out). – gavin]”

    Well, sure, assuming you don’t care about reality. Peer-reviewed = minor player. Watts can play with some data and he will have far more influence than any three peer-reviewed scientists.

    [Response: You can't expect a few thousand scientists to act as policeman of truth for the whole world. The answer to bad information is better information - and that is the only sustainable long term strategy. - gavin]

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 3 Oct 2012 @ 6:24 PM

  61. Jim Larsen: “Peer-reviewed = minor player.”

    This is simply not true. Science is STILL the best guide to truth about nature–and truth eventually prevails. I would rather scientists go about generating science and allow laymen who care about science to inform idiots of their idiocy.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Oct 2012 @ 7:13 PM

  62. I wish someone would give a link to the full Humlum paper, such that people not in the field don’t have to pay $40.

    It looks like the well-known sitaution where temperature affects CO2 levels in the short term (several months), and CO2 affects temperature over the long term (years to decades). It’s possible to separate the effects statistically, and there is no doubt that the latter effect swamps the former.

    Comment by t marvell — 3 Oct 2012 @ 9:46 PM

  63. > The answer to bad information is better information

    We may fervently hope so.

    The alternative answer is the epitaph for democracies:

    “You can fool enough of the people enough of the time.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Oct 2012 @ 9:52 AM

  64. > I wish someone would give a link to the full Humlum paper, such that people not in the field don’t have to pay $40.

    Google (scholar) is your friend, just search for the title and grab the PDF.

    http://scholar.google.com

    Type in “The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature”

    Press Enter key.

    You ready for 37 pages of what everyone deems is a bad paper? Personally I’d spend my time reading the more important papers.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 5 Oct 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  65. Gavin said, “You can’t expect a few thousand scientists to act as policeman of truth ”

    Yep, I agree. This isn’t a fair fight, and scientists have been thrust into roles which are diametrically opposed to their chosen life paths. Asking a scientist to out-politician a politician is durn near futile and unfair to boot, but when the stakes are so high, you take your best shot, and if that slows the science a tad, then the question is which is more important. This blog is a grand example of your walking my talk.

    However, I think the window for scientists to help via “convincing the world” is about over, so I’m crying about spilt milk. The Arctic sea ice will continue to degrade, and Antarctica and Greenland are being closely monitored too. I’d guess we’re one US presidential election cycle from climate change being a core issue.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Oct 2012 @ 4:24 PM

  66. thank you Unsettled Scientist for the source, which I should have tried anyway.
    About reading the article – the journal Global and Planetary Change seems to be respectable and the paper was peer reviewed. At least it should be answered in a comparable way.

    Comment by t marvell — 8 Oct 2012 @ 10:39 PM

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