RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. A key measure of what you note with regard to the April 1 SWE is the snowpack-precipitation ratio. That is what percentage of the precipitation is being retained as April 1 snowpack. What is evident is the widespread reduction in this ratio in the west. The trend is spatially and temporally robust. Further the trend reflects either winter melting or more rain events both indicators of temperature rise. This trend has been noted by Pierce et al,(2008)
    and Pelto (2008) data reviewed here

    [Response: Yes, good point Mauri, thank you. The authors point out that very fact (that
    the ratio indicates how much is left on April 1, which helps to determine the cause
    for any detected trend). From a plant’s perspective, on the other hand, it’s the
    absolute amount of April 1 SWE that’s important (along with subsequent temps, melt
    rates etc., of course) as these drive the subsequent ecological processes.-Jim]

    Comment by mauri pelto — 19 Feb 2009 @ 8:49 AM

  2. Excellent article. It scientifically supports Energy Secretary Chu’s warning concerning the viability of California’s agricultural industry if human induced climate change is not reduced immediately. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent out a “Global Warming Alarmist Alert” condemning him for his statements; maybe now they will be more inclined to listen.

    Comment by Mike Tabony — 19 Feb 2009 @ 8:56 AM

  3. Hey — I learnt a new word! \Phenology\.

    [Response: Wiki. – gavin]

    Comment by John Gribbin — 19 Feb 2009 @ 9:03 AM

  4. Of course the result of increased mortality without a corresponding increase in recruitment will ultimately lead to western forest changing from atmospheric carbon sinks to carbon sources.

    I think the results suggest a real need for assisted migration. Tree species with a higher tolerance for water stress should be planted in more northerly locations over time. In order to avoid problems associated with introduced species the selection of species should focus on those species that would normally be able to migrate from the current southerly locations to more the more northern locations but are unable to do so due to human factors such as cities blocking the way or the rate of climate change occurring too quickly for an adequate natural response.

    [Response: Yes, and it doesn’t take much to turn many old growth forests into a source, but
    keep in mind the time scale: some western old growth forests are elevated from their
    presettlement carbon stock means due to fire frequency reductions, so what might
    appear to be a transition from sink to source in the short term is not so in the
    longer term. Also, some are indeed arguing for assisted migration in just such
    cases and it may turn out to be necessary, but has to be done with some precaution

    Comment by Keith Whelpdale — 19 Feb 2009 @ 9:29 AM

  5. Keith Whelpdale, Hell, why not plant kudzu while you’re at it. “Assisted migration” will merely place native trees under even greater stress. Remember this is an ecosystem we are talking about.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Feb 2009 @ 10:28 AM

  6. An intersting article in the Guardian UK shows that tropical forests, in reaction to rising CO2 levels, are soaking up far more CO2 than was was thought, equal to the whole CO2 output of the USA.

    This sort of ‘real’ science on the ground (instead of playing around with computer programs) shows how little we really know about how the Earth reacts to changes and how impossible it is to forecast the future based on the puny amount of observed and verified data technological man has aquired so far.

    “Trees across the tropics are getting bigger and offering help in the fight against climate change, scientists have discovered.

    A laborious study of the girth of 70,000 trees across Africa has shown that tropical forests are soaking up more carbon dioxide pollution than originally thought. Almost one-fifth of our fossil fuel emissions are absorbed by forests across Africa, Amazonia and Asia, the research suggests.

    Simon Lewis, climate expert at the University of Leeds, who led the study, said: “We are receiving a free subsidy from nature. Tropical forests are absorbing 18% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere each year from burning fossil fuels.”

    The study, published tomorrow in Nature, measured trees in 79 areas of intact forest across 10 African countries from Liberia to Tanzania, and compared records going back 40 years. “On average the trees are getting bigger,” Lewis said.

    Compared to the 1960s, each hectare of intact African forest has trapped an extra 0.6 tonnes of carbon a year. Over the world’s tropical forests, this extra “carbon sink” effect adds up to 4.8bn tonnes of CO2 removed each year – close to the total carbon dioxide emissions from the US.

    Although individual trees are known to soak up carbon as they photosynthesise and grow, large patches of mature forest were once thought to be carbon neutral, with the carbon absorbed by new trees balanced by that released as old trees die.

    The discovery suggests that increased CO2 in the atmosphere could fertilise extra growth in the mature forests.

    Lewis said: “It’s good news for now but the effect won’t last forever. The trees can’t keep on getting bigger and bigger.”

    Helene Muller-Landau of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, said the growing forests could recovering from trauma – droughts, fire and human activity – going back hundreds or even thousands of years.

    The research comes as efforts intensify to include protection for tropical forests in carbon credit schemes, as part of a new climate deal to replace the Kyoto protocol.”


    [Response: Alan, thanks for the link to what I consider to be a significant new article. I
    encourage everyone to at least read the story synopsis in Nature: What Lewis
    have found confirms the atmospheric inversion-based studies (which are based on
    completely different methods) by Stephens et. al (2007; Science 316:1732-), that the
    tropics are a stronger sink, and the temperate zone weaker, than had previously been
    believed. It is very important to keep in mind that sinks always have limits–trees
    can only get so big for biophysical reasons, and generally as they reach that upper
    limit their sink strength decreases. Furthermore, if CO2 fertilization (or N or
    H2O) is the dominant driver of the sink strength, that strength will decrease before
    the biophysical limits come into play, should other factors become limiting, which
    they very often do.-Jim]

    Comment by Alan Millar — 19 Feb 2009 @ 10:59 AM

  7. Trees are a good indicator; but, if you lived in the Midwest US (Omaha, Offutt AFB area) from 1974-81, then moved away and then came back from 1985-95, you’d have no doubt that Global Warming was real for other reasons.
    I can remember, during the 70’s, having to pop out a window on our back porch so that I could climb out and shovel away the snow that’d drifted out door shut, many times. When I came back in the late 80’s and 90’s, I never even saw a snow drift ONCE (well, maybe once or twice; but it never snowed us in!); as the precipitation had changed over to freezing rain and sleet – with hardly ever any accumulated snow fall.
    I read Dr. Hansens report in the early 70’s; and I’ve never had any doubt about it’s verity, if only because of this fact!

    Comment by James Staples — 19 Feb 2009 @ 11:16 AM

  8. If the Amazon is “soaking up” more CO2 than anticipated, what is soaking up less CO2 than anticipated? CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are still going up. And more rapidly than anticipated.

    [Response: Good questions, which are under very active research, and are the subject of the
    NACP (, happening as we speak. It’s not
    necessarily that another sink has been under-estimated: you have to factor emission
    rates into the equation.-Jim]

    Comment by duBois — 19 Feb 2009 @ 11:21 AM

  9. duBois, ‘anticipation’ is not precise. There’s a new satellite up (maybe two) that will be giving more accurate local measurements and may help. The atmosphere is only part of the pattern. Possibilities suggested include a decrease in effectiveness of the southern ocean carbon sink; that may be a change in the biology or the wind/wave/mixing or the overturning from deep thermohaline circulation. We are living in a complicated planet.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2009 @ 11:51 AM

  10. Presumably this is the same Simon Lewis who is an author on the 2004 paper about increasing biomass in Amazonian rainforest trees. The phenomenon of trees growing a bit more than they otherwise might have is certainly interesting, but not new, and I would wager it is accounted for in some climate models. Perhaps one of our hosts can confirm or disconfirm that. At any rate, Alan shows his colors when he contrasts “real science” to “playing around with computer programs” and then commits the old chestnut fallacy of implying that since we don’t know everything, we must know nothing (or at least not enough to draw important conclusions). Alan seems to be a vector for an aggressive type of ignorance, to which most readers here have developed an immunity, but which is still worrying to see making its way through the wild.

    [Response: Carbon cycle changes are more commonly incoporated into separate carbon cycle
    models which are then coupled to GCMs, although maybe some GCMs incorporate them
    directly, I don’t know.-Jim]

    Comment by kevin — 19 Feb 2009 @ 11:56 AM

  11. This sort of ‘real’ science on the ground (instead of playing around with computer programs)

    Except, of course, the computer model (“programs”) they used to extrapolate their limited on-the-ground data to a worldwide figure for CO2 absorption by tropical forests.

    This use of computer models is acceptable to you because you believe it overturns the bits of climate science you don’t like. Not because it’s better science.

    And, as duBois says, we know CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere. All this work does is potentially provide a better estimate of how much CO2 is being absorbed by the Amazon vs. the ocean etc. It doesn’t change the “in the air science” of observed increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, which is in no way derived from those evil computer programs you rant about (except for the one you love used by the researchers in this particular paper you seem to believe is “real” science, as opposed to “fake climate science”).

    Comment by dhogaza — 19 Feb 2009 @ 11:59 AM

  12. Alan Millar says “This sort of ‘real’ science on the ground (instead of playing around with computer programs) shows how little we really know about how the Earth reacts to changes and how impossible it is to forecast the future based on the puny amount of observed and verified data technological man has aquired so far.”

    Alan, I’m more than willing to admit the YOU are utterly ignorant of anything to do with the climate. I mean, one minute, you’re telling us that 385 ppmv is way too puny to have any effect on climate and now you’re telling us it’s growing super-trees down in the Amazon.

    Newsflash, dude: CO2 is still rising, and faster than expected. The oceans are absorbing less and less CO2 and will eventually become a source. These super-trees will eventually die and decay, returning the sequesterd carbon to the atmosphere–as CO2, or worse CH4. So why don’t you get it straight in your head what YOU think and then you can come back here and we can tell you why you’re wrong.

    Oh, and by the way, if you ever want to actually understand the “real science,” those models might be helpful.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Feb 2009 @ 12:07 PM

  13. And the 1st link in the chain — I forgot my shopping list and had to make 2 trips via my I.C.E. car to the store instead of one, and other such behaviors of inefficiency/non-conservation/non-alt-energy-usage throughout the world.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Feb 2009 @ 12:19 PM

  14. It is such a simple thing. Go to the NOAA website and download the last 50 years of temperature data from your small local airports. Here in Ellensburg, our winters traditionally hit 20 below zero (8 in 10 years). We barely hit zero this winter. And we have never been below -10 in the last 12 years. The data is there and NONE of you are looking at it! NOT A DAMN ONE OF YOU! Note also that here in Ellensburg at the Bowers Air Field, our data shows one in ten winters to 30 below zero. This since records began in the 30’s. It is so phucking blatant and none of you are looking at it. You people have your head stuck so far in your books you cannot see the real world around you. WE ALREADY HAVE A 20 PLUS DEGREE TEMPERATURE CHANGE IN ELLENSBURG, WASHINGTON. The sumnmer data is the same. For fourty years since the 30’s our highs were in the 80’s and rarely in the 90’s. Last summer, as in the previous ten summers, we have hit over 110! I do not know what else to tell you idiots. The data is right there in front of you and you so called ‘professionals’ have entirely lost all credability for not doing your SIMPLE homework. God forbid.

    [Response: Please calm down. You’ll find dispassionate analysis far more persuasive here. – gavin]

    [Response: 14. Try not to fall into the same trap as many denialists, thinking that things are “obvious” based on this or that set of limited observations. Attribution is very much more a sophisticated and comprehensive business.-Jim]

    Comment by Ken Boettger — 19 Feb 2009 @ 12:28 PM

  15. Even if forests shift from becoming a carbon sink to a carbon source, there will be regional differences, and continued forest conservation will help mitigate the consequences. If we fail to conserve forests (even declining forests) we will only accelerate emissions. If we conserve forests (including declining forests) we will be slowing the rate of emissions from forests, just like we are trying to slow the rate of emissions from fossil fuels. Same principles apply.

    Here is a slide show clarifying many misconceptions about forests, logging, and carbon:
    (For full effect click “full” in the lower right.)


    [Response: Thank you for your terrific work Doug. Indeed, many misconceptions about
    logging, disturbance, carbon storage, conservation, etc. Preserving old-growth has
    many benefits, and is simple and effective as a carbon management strategy. All

    Comment by Doug — 19 Feb 2009 @ 12:40 PM

  16. One of my denialist “friends” just sent me this (abridged version):
    NSIDC: satellite sea ice sensor has “catastrophic failure” – data faulty for the last 45 or more days * (“Although we believe that data *prior to* early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check in the coming days. …it became clear that there was a significant problem – sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as open ocean. …”

    My guess is that the report is probably true but of no particular cansequence. Am I right?

    [Response: Always best to go to the actual source of the information, rather the blogs: NSIDC. It’s always a shame when a sensor fails, but in this case there appears to be enough redundancy so that they’ll be be able to maintain a continuous record. It also serves as a salient reminder that no source of data is fool-proof and that drifts, failures and corrections for them are always ongoing. – gavin]

    Comment by John Burgeson — 19 Feb 2009 @ 12:45 PM

  17. Re #14 Ken Boettger’s cogent rant: Thanks RC for posting that. Ken, so many of us accept your facts and your sentiment and have felt similar emotions.

    I am not sure that dispassionate analysis is ALWAYS the most persuasive. Maybe to this readership. But the tools of persuasion are not just scientific. RC does have a nice lock on the science of global warming.

    Humans are persuaded by so much more. Climate studies that cross into economics, game theory, risk analysis and psychology are such messy branches of science compared to climatology – which seems far more understandable by comparison.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 19 Feb 2009 @ 1:25 PM

  18. Nice post. I was exited to learn yesterday that my contributon was accepted for a special issue of Limnology and Oceanography. The special issue is titled (something like) “Lakes as sentinels and integrators of climate change.” In some sense it is fortunate that pollution/eutrophication concerns from the 60s and 70s stimulated longer term monitoring studies that are showing strong climate signals in lake food chains. The special issue of Limnology and Oceanography has received some publicity in Science and elsewhere over the past week or so. The number of ecological studies on climate change and climate warming effects on natural systems is increasing at a very high exponential rate. I have been analyzing data from large, deep European subalpine lakes. These have seen marked improvements in water quality due to efforts at reducing phosphorus loading but are now being impacted by climate warming.

    [Response: 18. Bill, congrats. I look forward to learning more about the topic. I was lucky
    enough to spend a couple of months at the U Wisconsin limno lab at Trout Lake WI
    this fall, doing field work, and saw reference to a pub very similar in title to
    what you mention, but had no time to explore it. Did ESA or somebody put out
    something very similar recently?-Jim]

    Comment by Bill DeMott — 19 Feb 2009 @ 1:44 PM

  19. I wonder how often actually terrarium type experiments are utilized. I saw one terrarium experiment where a CO2 concentration of around 800 ppm made for a beautiful plant filled environment with only negligible heat gain. And this was under conditions where heat could not escape into a bitterly cold outer space. I just think that the simple mindedness errs more on the alarmist side than the status quo side. I don’t call it denialist… because that would insinuate truth.

    Comment by larrydalooza — 19 Feb 2009 @ 1:49 PM

  20. Jim,

    Thanks for doing this; great job. In the Tahoe Basin, I have found (recently submitted to Climatic Change) that the shift in timing of peak snowmelt runoff, and trends in ave. monthly Tmax and Tmin are somewhat greater than in the surrounding region. The snow->rain shift is also strong. Two hypotheses may explain why the basin is warming faster than other parts of the Sierra. First, soot in snow may be reducing the snowpack albedo, contributing to the shift in snowmelt timing, and to higher spring temperatures. See this just-out paper: Qian, Y., W. I. Gustafson Jr., L. R. Leung, and S. J. Ghan (2009), Effects of soot-induced snow albedo change on snowpack and hydrological cycle in western United States based on Weather Research and Forecasting chemistry and regional climate simulations, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D03108, doi:10.1029/2008JD011039; available at:

    Second, the lake itself, with low albedo and high heat capacity, may interact with increasing GHGs to produce a higher rate of change in air temperature over the lake than over the land.

    [Response: Bob, thanks, Very interesting. Higher rate of change over the water–not at all intuitive. These spatial variability/scale questions are fascinating and important. Will try to read the paper when I get a chance.-Jim ]

    Comment by Bob Coats — 19 Feb 2009 @ 3:12 PM

  21. I am curious about the SWE’s calculations. The timing of snowfall here in the Sierra will have a great impact and its impact is not apparent if only total precipitation is measured. Some years such as last January 2007-2008 there was tremendous snowfall in late December and January and then absolutely nothing. Other years there are heavy snowfalls in April. I look at this data trying to assess vegetation and bird populations, so I am curious how they described that variable. It wasn’t obvious in your post.

    [Response: Hi Jim. The April 1 SWE is just the water content of the snowpack on April 1,
    with that date chosen because it falls very near the long term maximum, and
    immediately precedes rapid spring warming. It’s not perfect for every location
    because of elevation and other differences, but works well as a compromise when
    considering the entire western USA, or the Sierra in particular. To the extent that
    post April 1 snowfall would be substantial and unrelated to April 1 SWE, its
    perfomance as a hydrological/ecological prediction index would suffer. But since
    the trend is in the other direction (warming, more rain etc), it is–as long as
    there is some snowpack–a sensitive indicator of likely hydro/eco effects and trends
    throughout the warm season. [By the way, Jim’s avoiding self-promotion, but he is
    the director of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus of San Francisco State University.
    If you want a high quality introduction to a wide variety of topics in Sierran
    ecology and natural history in a very cool setting, I highly recommend it, based on
    my experience there as a student a few years ago. – Jim Bouldin]

    Comment by Jim Steele — 19 Feb 2009 @ 3:52 PM


    Well, the evidence is pretty strong that the Earth’s average surface temps are rising (with the attendant problems)and that it is mostly human caused (IPCC 1991, 1995, 2001, 2007; written scientific evidence dating to Saussure “Travels in the Alps” 1779-96; Fourier 1824; Tyndall 1859; Arrehieneus 1896, etc.).

    Just remember a definition for climate change is: averages, averages, averages. No one single location can be used as definitive proof…you need them from around the Earth for 30+ years. Some places have not changed their temperatures much…but the average is pretty startling for 100 years.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 19 Feb 2009 @ 4:57 PM

  23. Since you have recently expanded your study to include Minnesota, you may be familiar with the reseach work of Lee Frelich. Dr. Frelich is director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Hardwood Ecology in the Department of Forest Resources. Recent article at:

    Last night I attended a showing of the video “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. John Christy and Richard Litzen claimed that greenhouse warming is insignficant because of less warming seen in mid-levels of the atmosphere compared to more warming near the surface.

    However, less albedo over snow-free areas has contributed to strong warming near the surface in winter and early spring, in the northern Great Plains and Midwest. Strong February warming has been especially evident at climate stations in MT, ND and MN. The importance of less albedo due to shorter snow cover periods discounts the arguments by Christy and Litzen and strengthens the case that much of the global warming is greenhouse driven. A decrease in snow cover and albedo throughout the Great Plains and Midwest also helps explain why warming in the month of February has especially sharp.

    Plots of earlier snowmelt runoff & temperatures at Minnesota climate stations:

    Earlier in the Year Snowmelt Runoff and Increasing Dewpoints for Rivers in ND, MN and WI

    Other links:

    WCCO meteorologist: Global warming ‘extremism’ uses ‘squishy science’
    May 20, 2008 by Paul Walsh, Star Tribune:

    Global Cooling or Global Warming?
    Minnetonka Community Education

    [Response: Yes, I met Lee last summer and am very familiar with his research work. He is
    an excellent scientist and has done pioneering work on historic forest disturbance
    regimes in Great Lakes forests, among other things. Great guy. Then on the other
    hand there’s a “cpa by day and concerned citizen by night” teaching “global cooling
    theory” at Minnetonka CC. Looks like we’ve covered the spectrum there. – Jim Bouldin]

    Comment by Pat N — 19 Feb 2009 @ 5:04 PM

  24. This is a prime example of academic understatement. This is scientific reticence at its best. Go out in the fields and look at what is happening! Plants are blooming at the wrong time – not synchronized with their pollinators. Pollinators are not synchronized with the blooming of the plants that they depend on.

    This is serious business. No! This is catastrophic. My fruit trees started blooming today and the bees are not ready. The bees want 3 weeks from peak of the ornamental pear bloom to rear brood for the fruit tree bloom. However, there was a humming bird in the orchard this morning. Five years ago, we never saw even errant humming birds this time of the year. Three years ago we started seeing errant humming birds in the winter. This year we had a resident humming bird all winter. That humming bird by itself, was nothing. That humming bird as part of a trend, is everything. This was the first year that we had bloom in the yard all winter. Again, the culmination of a trend.

    A decade ago, garden was landscaped to provide continuous waves of bloom from the first of March to the end of October. However, plants that 10 years ago time bloomed in March, now bloom in November. Plants that in our climate of six or seven years ago, bloomed in May, now bloom in February. And, plants that only 5 years ago went dormant from November to March, now stay green and bloom all winter, hence the humming birds. Trees that in the past, were dormant for 4 months were dormant for only 4 weeks this year.

    Ten years ago, I tried very hard to grow plants that would bloom and support humming birds all winter and they all frosted out. I stopped trying. Now, plants that were in the yard prior to that time have changed their bloom season, and seem to support humming birds through the winter. (Maybe someone in the neighborhood is feeding them, but I saw them investigating blooms in my garden on a daily basis.) In the last decade, global warming has changed the ecology of the area.

    You may want to dismiss this as “just weather”, but how many years of the weather trending in the same direction, year after year, consistent with global warming does it take before we admit that we have a trend that is affecting our agricultural plants? If you really want to know about global warming – go count native bees on native plants.

    I look for pollinators almost every day. I did that this morning. The number of native bees this morning was 0. Exactly what I expected. What I did not expect was the number of native species that would be blooming this time of year. I did not expect most of my fruit trees to be blooming today. Only a decade ago, they started blooming at the end of February or early March, and this was the week that I sprayed for mites. Every year since then, it has been a bit earlier. Today the pluots, plums, and apricots also started blooming. In the past, these bloomed sequentially, after the nectarines. The ornamental pears should have just started blooming. In fact, they have been blooming for 5 weeks (and today there are honey bees working those pears. There are more honey bees than I would expect at this time of the year, but not nearly enough to service what is now blooming and what will bloom in the next few days.) If the earlier blooming was from natural variability, there would have been years when the bloom was a bit later, and the average bloom date over a decade would have stayed about the same. However, the bloom date has consistently moved forward. That is not natural. If we had “a climate” the bloom date would stabilize. However, we do not have a stable bloom date, we have a trend toward earlier blooming. Similarly, native plants are also blooming earlier. And, what will the native bees find to feed themselves in the season when those plants traditionally bloomed, now that those plants have already bloomed for this year?

    Dead trees in old growth forests are factoids with long term importance. However, bloom pollination is critical for the year to year survival of our current agricultural production and native ecosystems. Like it or not, even the most reticent scientists need to start thinking of the effects of global warming on food production and ecosystems, not in some model of the future climate, but in the fields and meadows of today.

    [Response: Aaron you raise a number of great issues, which in toto refer to the potential
    effects of climate change on species-specific phenology patterns, which are likely
    to be complex and to create a mess. I don’t argue with any of it. But what you see
    as reticence, those of us familiar with scientific practice see as care to minimize
    the chance of over-stating the case, which brings with it the chance of
    under-stating the case. For those interested in being part of a larger citizen
    science documentation of the phenological changes Aaron is describing, please check
    out: – Jim Boudlin]

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 19 Feb 2009 @ 5:22 PM

  25. duBois wrote: “If the Amazon is ‘soaking up’ more CO2 than anticipated, what is soaking up less CO2 than anticipated? CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are still going up. And more rapidly than anticipated.”

    Well, among other factors, anthropogenic emissions of CO2 have been increasing much more rapidly than anticipated.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Feb 2009 @ 6:05 PM

  26. Aaron Lewis wrote: “This is a prime example of academic understatement. This is scientific reticence at its best.”

    If medical doctors told their cigarette-smoking patients “while smoking increases the risk of cancer, no individual case of lung cancer can be attributed to smoking cigarettes” as often as climate scientists tell us “while global warming increases the risk of extreme weather events, no individual extreme weather event can be attributed to global warming”, I suspect that many more people would die from lung cancer.

    Captcha says “turbo Katarina” … hmm.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Feb 2009 @ 6:13 PM

  27. re #6 Alan Millar

    Maybe somebody here could provide the relevant links as I am not at my desk but I recall there have been studies that relate changes in the growth rates (girth) of trees through times of increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, with the relative density of carbon stored in annual growth rings.

    My impression was, that girth alone is not a very effective way to estimate CO2 uptake.

    Comment by David Emmo — 19 Feb 2009 @ 6:41 PM

  28. Not precisely on-topic, still warrents the link.

    “One-fifth Of Fossil-fuel Emissions Absorbed By Threatened Forests”

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Feb 2009 @ 7:09 PM

  29. Aaron Lewis, in a decade the global mean temperature would have risen about 0.1 degree F. Do you think anyone would be able to see global warming with thier own eyes within a ten year period as you suggest?

    Comment by Michael — 19 Feb 2009 @ 7:46 PM

  30. I think the scientists are doing remarkably well. We need to understand that they have high standards of proof and have to avoid making false positive claims (saying GW is causing such&such, when they do not have good proof) to maintain their reputations. And when I read this report above I thought, I can pretty much trust their conclusions, the evidence and science is now in on it.

    It is the rest of the people in the world that need to be chastized for failing to avoid false negatives (assuming nothing is wrong & doing nothing while the world burns).

    Denialists are the most culpable, & policy-makers, & the media (which for nearly 20 years virtually ignored the issue, or sowed seeds of doubt with their pro-con format), followed by typical Americans, who contribute per capita the most GHGs (and don’t forget to add in all the GHGs related to products we consume that are made in other countries), followed by the rest of the world. Even poor people in poor countries might find ways to reduce GHGs without lowering their living standards, and improve their living standards in efficient/conservative/ ways.

    So we’re all pretty much to blame at various levels. But the scientists are just doing their jobs as best they can, sometimes even having their findings suppressed or having their jobs threatened, or denialists attacking their integrity. The scientists’ job does not include informing the public at large, but in this vacuum they’ve stepped up to that plate, as evidenced by RealClimate.

    The scientists are pretty much the heroes in this battle.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Feb 2009 @ 8:31 PM

  31. Jim Steele Says (19 February 2009 at 3:52 PM):

    “The timing of snowfall here in the Sierra will have a great impact and its impact is not apparent if only total precipitation is measured. Some years such as last January 2007-2008 there was tremendous snowfall in late December and January and then absolutely nothing. Other years there are heavy snowfalls in April.”

    Another thing that seems to have changed around the Tahoe area is the timing of the first significant (which to me means enough to cross-country ski on) snowfall. In the late ’70s-early ’80s, it wasn’t uncommon to have skiable snow in October, sometimes in September. For the last decade or so, it’s been moving to late November or December. This year we didn’t have much of anything until Christmas.

    And of course this is self-reinforcing. The lack of snow cover keeps the albedo lower, which keeps the ground warmer, so that any snow that does fall early melts before long. Snowlines move higher up the slopes, meaning less snowpack, and less snow-covered ground to reflect spring & early summer heat… Just one more small set of facts, any one of which might be happenstance. But while one is happenstance and two are concidence, three times is enemy action.

    Comment by James — 19 Feb 2009 @ 10:14 PM

  32. Recollect excursions happen. Have and will.

    It’s important to remember that the change from the added CO2 is a _weak_ signal just emerging from the background with statistical analysis. It will always be a weak signal, in paleo terms. Doesn’t mean unimportant, but that’s because of how _fast_ not how _strong. _Nothing_ we’re going to see in our lifetimes is going to be outside what’s been possible. Nothing people’s grandchildren will see either.

    This doesn’t lessen the human contribution to the problem, which is mostly rate of change — we’ve pushed _faster_ not _harder_.

    In terms of changing the rate of acceleration of climate change, humans are jerks. Most other factors are nudges, or tickles, by comparison. Those are all units of acceleration. We’re not just pushy, we push harder and faster by far than any other force.

    California’s had droughts in the past exceeding _anything_ imagined as a consequence of global warming. But those were excursions around a mean.

    We’re changing the mean, quite suddenly, by three degrees C or so.

    After the last little California earthquake, Loma Prieta, I read up on the jerk experienced by people in 1906. It was greater than one gravity sideways. People literally had the Earth yanked out from under them. When I feel like trying to explain that to people I say it feels like having someone walk up and grab you by every cell in your body and move you very suddenly sideways several feet.

    That’s kind of like what people are doing. Not moving you cross town, not throwing you a mile, just — giving you one big jerk.

    In geologic time, that is. We’re making another of those thin dark lines in the paleo record — ours will have nanomachines in it, probably. It certainly has far more fossils below it than can possibly be formed after our time.

    But _still_ remember, there have been droughts that lasted centuries before and will be again. We’re not changing that. We’re changing how often the extremes happen, a little bit in geological terms. In our own short lifetime terms, time will tell.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2009 @ 11:01 PM

  33. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that globally human activity emits 32 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, but only 15 billion tonnes actually stays in the atmosphere adding to climate change. The new research shows exactly where some of the ‘missing’ 17 billion tonnes per year is going. …”

    Read the rest of the explanation of what the study says here.

    Comment by JCH — 19 Feb 2009 @ 11:10 PM

  34. RE # 14 Ken Boettger:

    The data is there and NONE of you are looking at it! NOT A DAMN ONE OF YOU!

    I’m curious to know the basis for this statement – are you absolutely sure no scientist has looked at those data? If, how do you know this?

    It’s facinating to see how the skeptics and denialists argue that climate scientists are too alarmist, while other, such as Ken, and Aaron Lewis, and Secular Animist complain here that the climate scientists aren’t alarmist enough.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 20 Feb 2009 @ 12:58 AM

  35. 24 Aaron Lewis: I think you mean that your fruit crop will be very poor this year. Is this true?
    Could you comment on the idea of moving your orchard north to a place that has the climate your present land used to have? I suspect that you would find different soil. etc. but I don’t know. What do you think of the idea of farming on melted tundra in the warm future? Again, I suspect that your bees wouldn’t understand the 24 hour daylight, the soil would be unsuitable, etc. but I would like to hear what a farmer would think. And yes, there are few things more critical to maintaining civilization than the food supply.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 20 Feb 2009 @ 1:53 AM

  36. There is another question involved here. Is evolution finished? Is the present biota a terminal one which cannot undergo further evolutionary change beyond rather trivial subspecific or varietal adaptation? Such was the view of Julian Huxley and Robert Broom who pointed out that a new Genus had not appeared in the last two million years. I have extended that generalization to include true verifiable species. There is no question that we are now witnessing rampant species extinction but therre is very little evidence that new species are replacing those that have disappeared. I have summarized that literature on my webpage.

    I realize this is a dismal prospect but one which should not be dismissed until convincing evidence for species replacement can be documented. Just as the development of the individual ends with death, so apparently does evolution end with extinction. While new life forms definitely replaced their predecesors in the distant past, that is no longer evident.

    In any event the Darwinian notion of a continuing gradual evolution is currently being widely questioned as creative evolution no longer seems to be in progress.

    One thing is certain. We are the primary cause of the rapid alterations that are now taking place in the climate domains of the world. Global warming and climate change are no longer matters for conjecture.

    Comment by John A. Davison — 20 Feb 2009 @ 4:09 AM

  37. Response to response to 14.
    Simple stories for a single location may not be sound science but it could well enhance understanding by the lay population. It does not prove AGW scientifically but it well illustrates it.

    Johnny Horton sang “When it springtime in Alaska it’s 40 below” I doubt anywhere in Alaska was 40 below last spring let alone Fairbanks which had days over plus 20 Celcius.

    Comment by Tony O\'Brien — 20 Feb 2009 @ 4:25 AM

  38. There’s great confusion of tons and tonnes and billion tonnes and giga tonnes or tons (factor 0.9 or so). NASA published not long ago that 2007 9.4 GT CO2 was emitted from fossil fuel burning and slight over 50% was taken out. The percent taken out decreasing!!! Believe the atmosphere number was on the range of 760 GT. Anyway, I think there is room for some clarification and maybe a conversion table for the different values and amounts in circulation. Spencer’s folly being of course that it’s all natural. And the more they inflate the total annual cycle volume, the more concerned I get, for a hyper inflated system should have been well able to take out the extra few billion tonnes produced by man… evidently not.

    Comment by Sekerob — 20 Feb 2009 @ 6:38 AM

  39. I am afraid that I found the paper by van Mantgem rather disappointing, leaving me with more questions than answers. They may be correct that increased temperatures are driving increased mortality, but I don’t think its fair to conclude this from their paper. If increased temperatures leading to increased drought stress is the strongest driver, why did the authors not consider plot aspect or soil type/depth. These would surely have a strong influence and may explain why some plots did not show increased mortality. Furthermore, I found their dismissal of air pollution as a significant factor to be too swift. They did not even consider a role for nitrogen deposition in increased mortality, despite the fact that this association has been shown repeatedly. More work to be done I think.

    Comment by Paul Gosling — 20 Feb 2009 @ 7:05 AM

  40. Ray Ladbury – re assisted migration; I think you need to read my comment again as you apparently didn’t understand it. I was clear that problems associated with introduced species needed to be avoided.

    While AGM is a serious problem that needs to be addressed governments and individuals have shown that most are very unwilling to make the changes necessary to avert significant warming. Unfortunately AGM is not the only significant stress that humans have placed on the planet. Huge tracts of cleared lands will prevent what would be the normal northward migration of many species in a warming world and the rate of change may confound even those species most able to move (unlike trees) in their attempt to relocate.

    Shrill comments around kudzu do nothing to improve the discussion.

    Comment by Keith Whelpdale — 20 Feb 2009 @ 8:44 AM

  41. John A. Davison
    1)Evolution is OT.
    2)If you think evolution is finished, you don’t understand evolution.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Feb 2009 @ 8:55 AM

  42. Jim,

    your responses are off by one post in some of the above comments (e.g., 19 and 20) [fixed – thanks]

    As for your post, thanks, it was very informative.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 20 Feb 2009 @ 9:58 AM

  43. #29 Michael: Global mean temperature change is probably the wrong number to consider in a case like Aaron Lewis describes. There are regional variations, so some places have experienced change well beyond the global mean. Also, the biosphere will respond to factors other than the yearly mean, such as changes in the timing of annual temperature change, and changes in temperature range (daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal mins/maxes). So we probably should not limt ourselves to thinking about the global mean temperature, right?

    And as to your question “Do you think anyone would be able to see global warming with thier own eyes within a ten year period as you suggest?”: Can one see *global* warming with one’s own eyes, in a decade or any other timespan? No, or at least not without doing a whole lot of traveling. But Aaron Lewis described in some detail evidence of *local* warming that he has witnessed. So if your question is whether there has been observable change in any given region over the last 10 years as a result of warming, the answer is a resounding yes. Look at Arctic sea ice, look at the Antarctic peninsula, talk to people living in the far North almost anywhere. Look at Aaron Lewis’ orchards, apparently. The answer to “would one really be able to see it” is yes, it has been seen, by many, many people. If I’m misunderstanding your question, I apologize.

    Comment by kevin — 20 Feb 2009 @ 10:29 AM

  44. I disagree with the portrayal of forest conservation as the best mitigation strategy given by #15 (Doug).

    There is a large body of scientific literature that conservation of forests as a strategy for mitigating climate change will be most effective if it is done within a framework of sustainability that includes the harvest of a portion of the forest area for use of wood in either long-lived products replacing higher embodied energy building materials, or to replace fossil fuel energy (especially coal). This is the gist of the conclusion of the Fourth IPCC assessment report (

    There are numerous peer review journal articles concluding that harvesting forests (with reforestation to replace forest C stocks) and using their wood products is a promising strategy for mitigation. To quote only one of many examples, Eriksson et al. in 2007 (Canadian J Forest Research Vol 37) conclude that “Not harvesting the forest would cumulatively increase the carbon emission over what would otherwise be possible if the forest stand were harvested and used”.

    Other examples (among many more) supporting sustainable harvest of forests as a climate change mitigation strategy are: Apps et al. in Environ. Science & Policy (1999); Gerilla et al. in Building and Environment 42: 2778–2784 (2007); Gustavsson et al. in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 11: 667–691 (2006); Richter, in Carbon Dioxide Mitigation in Forestry and Wood Industry. pp. 219–248. Springer-Verlag, Berlin (1998).

    Comment by Steve — 20 Feb 2009 @ 11:08 AM

    Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB)


    1) Understanding the organism’s role in organism-environment linkages—Understanding the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation for ecological health and human welfare depends on understanding the biology of diverse organisms. Communities and ecosystems are composed of organisms laced together by a network of interactions among individuals, and feedbacks between organisms and the physical environment. Current global and ecosystem models are overly simplistic owing to inadequate knowledge about basic organismal inputs and the dynamics of organismal responses to environmental changes. To understand the resilience and robustness of critical species and systems in the face of climate change, as well as protection of organisms vital to ecosystem services (e.g., clean
    water, chemical decontamination, pollination, carbon sinks), we need data in the following key areas:
    • Physical, physiological and genetic factors that constrain or promote adjustment to changing environments over different time scales (e.g., behavior, acclimation, plasticity, adaptation)
    • Mechanistic bases of organism-environment feedback systems
    • Functional and systems-level attributes of organisms that make them resilient or fragile in the face of environmental change …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Feb 2009 @ 12:03 PM

  46. Re: #36 John A Davison – “Serving the Intelligent Design Community”

    I’d be interested in having a look at your papers on this but I don’t have access to Rivista di Biologia (and it seems from your citation record not many others do too), would it be possible for you to put some pdfs up on your site? Also, looking at the ISI Web of Knowledge database I’m curious – are you the same JA Davison who has published on both opthalmology and breast augmentation?

    Re: #24 response
    For those in the UK interested in similar ‘citizen science’ schemes can I derect you to the Woodland Trust Phenology network ( ) the BRC recording schemes ( )and the various BTO surveys ( ) all of which welcome enthusiastic amateurs and their invaluable contributions.

    Comment by Chris S — 20 Feb 2009 @ 12:18 PM

  47. Kevin, it would seem that seasonal temperature variation would dwarf any trend he could extrapolate from his observations.
    And I’m sure you could find many ten year trends in temperature records and find just as much variation as the last ten. Is it accurate to look at global or local climate as a stable system? And isn’t it way too easy to place too much value on anecdotal evidence?

    Comment by Michael — 20 Feb 2009 @ 12:28 PM

  48. SecularAnamist (26) if you change “attributed” to “definitely attributed”, both of your statements are true. And more people might or might not die of lung cancer…, or from lightening or tornadoes or heat or cold.

    Comment by Rod B — 20 Feb 2009 @ 12:31 PM

  49. Barry Brooks has a recent thread on this:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Feb 2009 @ 12:53 PM

  50. John A. Davison – you make an interesting observation about the lack of new genus for over 2 million years. However if you go much farther back in history the evidence from the Burgess Shale shows us that there were many more phylum previously than currently exist.

    What this shows us is that once existing species are established those species will evolve to take advantage of changing conditions but the new species can only evolve out of existing species so a new genus, family, phylum etc cannot appear as the existing species have a huge upper hand in being able to fill any new niches that appear.

    However the diversity of life is as great or greater in the current era than at any time in the past as specialization of species within the existing genus has continued unabated.

    Comment by Keith Whelpdale — 20 Feb 2009 @ 12:57 PM

  51. Appologies, I said ‘seasonal’, I meant ‘year to year’ temperature variation.

    Comment by Michael — 20 Feb 2009 @ 1:27 PM

  52. SecularAnimist, 26:

    Some took an oath to say only what is warranted by the available information, no more and no less. Any other approach is speculation, which is fine for conceptualizing possibilities to explore, but not as evidence.

    David, 27:

    I know of studies trying to use ring widths and statistics to tease out CO2 fert. effects (e.g. Graumlich, 1991, Ecology 72:1-11), but not wood density. The usefulness of diameter-based tree carbon estimates depends on the precision needed–they are fine for many purposes, and are only one way to estimate terrestrial C uptake. Calibrating biometry-based estimates against atmospheric-based estimates from CO2 flux towers and atmospheric inversion methods is a very active area of carbon cycle science.

    Lynn, 30: Thanks for the kind words Lynn.

    Tony, 37:

    I agree, but even then you have to pick your examples carefully. It’s always hard to illustrate something that follows a stat. distribution using one or a few cases.

    Sekerob, 38:

    1 metric ton (= tonne) = 1000 kg = 10^6g = 1.1 english tons.
    1 Megagram = 1000 tonnes = 10^9 g. This is the unit most often used for per hectare terrestrial carbon storage amounts.
    1 gigatonne (Gt) = 1 Petagram = 1 billion tonnes = 10^15g. These are the units usually used at large scales, including global.

    Paul, 39:

    Aspect/soil depth are unlikely to be important, for a couple of important points. Most importantly, we are talking about trends over time and even if they’re unequally distributed among e.g. aspects or soil depths, there’s still a trend that needs to be explained. Second, using aspect as an example, only 13% (10) of the plots showed no increase in mortality rate. Even if all such plots were on north-facing aspects, you’d still have more (37% = 28) occurring on north aspects that DID show mortality increases, assuming about half the total plots fall on north vs south aspects. Expectation under the hypothesis of no effect of aspect would be that 5 each of north and south facing plots would have shown no increase. So aspect might at best explain part of the observations, but would certainly not explain the majority of them.

    I thought their explanation of ozone not being a likely culprit was fine, since the geographic patterns of mortality do not match those of ozone. I’d be interested in any references you can provide regarding nitrogen-induced tree mortality in mature conifer forests. Thanks.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 20 Feb 2009 @ 1:34 PM

  53. Re larrydalooza @19: And what was the height of the air column in the terrarium, and thus the total depth of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that heat had to travel through, by radiation or convection, before it could escape to space. Oh, right, it could not escape to space because both convection and radiation were blocked.

    And were water and non-CO2 nutrients held constant, or were they varied as well as CO2?
    Were natural diurnal temperature ranges simulated?
    How about normal day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month temperature variations?
    How about wind? Was humidity varied? Were drought conditions simulated?
    How about El Nino-La Nina oscillations?

    And some people dismiss numerical general circulation models?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 20 Feb 2009 @ 2:42 PM

  54. The things that Aaron has noted in his post at 24 are similar to what has been noticed in different ways all over the world. Some in their armchairs might say that it merely represents a readjustment of species to an evolving sequence of weather states. Some in their armchairs might view it as an opportunity for certain species to gain competitive advantage over others in a natural process of niche exchange. Many, out in their gardens and wandering the country lanes, are perturbed. What is being witnessed is an unravelling. It is an unraveling that is disturbing because the bedrock and soil structures that support the plant, insect, bird and other life systems are not shifting around. For those who have explored the relationships between bedrock, soil and living systems, there are strong connections. There are high levels of correlation between the various species and soil / bedrock maps and to induce a CO2 shock in the atmospheric blanket may well cause the moveable species to shift but the underlying systems that underpin them cannot shift around.

    What is emerging is a state of rest deprivation, in which the periods (autumn and winter) that Nature normally uses to recuperate are being squeezed out in favour of perpetual awakenness. That is not a good thing, as it favours burn out. And as these plants and insects and birds and others burn out (in the same way that humans burn out if they are not permitted to sleep) there comes a weakening, which goes hand-in-hand with vulnerability to infestation and other mechanisms of breakdown. Already wheat crops are being hit with increasing incidence of fungi with warming; investigation of wheat crop losses over recent years illustrates the potential for food risk.

    Taken together the bits of the jigsaw that are being seen do not suggest a nice picture.

    (Slightly off topic, I noticed some posts about attributing single events to climate change. Sometime in the future, when the last bit of ice melts at one of the poles, will someone turn around and ask if that specific event is connected with climate change?)

    Comment by previewed comment — 20 Feb 2009 @ 3:02 PM

  55. #7
    is the proper link for the African rainforests carbon article in Nature, as regards free Editors’ summary, and more importantly, the beginning of the letter given at the bottom of the page and a free Supplementary material with enough explanations and graphs. A great paper, obviously.

    Jim’s link is to the full text and is a nonfree-one (and non-working due to a final dot I did not notice…), obviously due to clicking 2 mm higher than proper.

    #15 Doug, thanks for the magnificient Oregon forest slideshow and report!
    Seems the carbon-stock maximizing forestry should be reconsidered not just there (I guess it had to include biochar soil enrichment, when logging at all).

    Comment by Jenik Hollan — 20 Feb 2009 @ 3:18 PM

  56. Re 29: Michael – that is exactly what I thought 3 years ago. I was sure that I was seeing things that were simply not there. Even now, using standard daily lows and highs, I can see very little change in average temperature. However, if I look at the number of hours in particular temperature ranges; then I can see more hours in warmer rangers and fewer hours in colder ranges. So, I still have the same number of nights that get down to ~32F, but I have fewer hours at ~32F. The local weather station reports the low for the night as 32F but does not report how many hours plants and critters are exposed to those 32F conditions.

    I thought that I was unique because I lived very close to ridge that divided a temperate climate with frost from a semi-marine climate that does not frost. However, the habitat of various alpine critters has moved upwards more than would have been predicted based on a temperature rise of only 0.1F/decade. For example certain kinds of alpine beetles have moved the lower limits of their habitat upwards by some 900 feet in the last three decades. Based on the global warming number, I would have guessed that they would have moved up less than 100 feet. These beetles live in the Cascades and the Sierra and are able to do move upwards to stay cool as the region warms. Thus, what appear to be de minimis changes in average global temperature can have dramatic effects on local ecosystems. Any climatologist that talks or writes for public consumption about these tiny changes in temperature without putting them in context is being reticent.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 20 Feb 2009 @ 3:55 PM

  57. Re 35 Edward Greish – I have no idea what the fruit crop will be this year! It could be that fewer bees will just mean less fruit thinning. However in 5 years, the bloom may be earlier still, with even fewer bees?; or, by then it may be warm enough that honey bees will be active through the winter and there will be more bees? Or, my fruit trees may bloom in December (as the pears did in 2006) and the first night of ~32F will be the end of the crop. Uncertainty for farmers is one of the costs for global warming.

    I have much less hope for the native bees and the native plants.

    These days it costs $30,000 to $80,000 per acre to prepare and plant an orchard or vineyard. Opening up tundra will also include putting in support utilities such as roads and railroads. Given that we do not know how crops will perform in that environment, this is a very high risk adventure. Given that global warming is a long term trend, we may have to change crops every so often which will increase costs. How much are people willing to pay for fruit? Who has the capital for large scale agricultural development? Will polar migration get that capital, or will it go to converting previously temperate areas to tropical crops?

    Before anyone advances a farmer money to farm the tundra, they will ask, “How much rain do you expect?” So, Ed, What would you predict the rainfall on your particular piece of Arctic Farmland to be? _____ That much? Are you sure? With a changing climate, how long will it stay like that?

    Captcha words; “existed Molccans”

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 20 Feb 2009 @ 4:02 PM

  58. “Compared to the 1960s, each hectare of intact African forest has trapped an extra 0.6 tonnes of carbon a year. Over the world’s tropical forests, this extra “carbon sink” effect adds up to 4.8bn tonnes of CO2 removed each year – close to the total carbon dioxide emissions from the US.” Well, that takes care of OUR emissions in the US – what are the rest of y’all gonna do? &;>)

    Seriously, the question of “how much CO2 forests sequester” is complicated (no surprise) – by temperature, moisture, edge effects which become more important as the extant tropical forest is fragmented, age, succession, disturbance, etc, etc. And like all measurements, there are associated inaccuracies(how high up the trunk should the diameter be measured?) – for more info, see

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 20 Feb 2009 @ 5:36 PM

  59. Re: response in #23,

    Jim, good to see you met Lee Frelich and that are familiar with his research on historic forest disturbance
    regimes, among other things.

    Lee’s recommended trees for a warming Minnesota climate which he gave at a Jan 30th presentation was informative to me.

    On the other hand, the “cpa by day and concerned citizen by night” presentation was not, and teaching “global cooling theory” was not helpful to anyone.

    Which brings up a question – What government agency which issues weather and climate predictions has refused to help in public education on climate change?
    Hint: the agency has 124 local offices in the U.S.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 20 Feb 2009 @ 5:48 PM

  60. This current article by the head of the European Environment Agency lays out some pretty ambitious plans for citizen-based phenology observations and related activities. Their interactive “Observatory of Global Change” site (very much in development at this point) is here. They’re starting out as Europe-only, but would like to expand it planet-wide.

    Captcha: somewhere severe

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 20 Feb 2009 @ 6:47 PM

  61. Keith Whelpdale, Merely “intorducing species” is almost always a bad idea unless you have a thorough understanding of the ecosystem. I do not believe we meet this criterion for even one ecosystem. Can you point to even one story of “assisted migration” that had a happy ending for the ecosystem into which the species migrated?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Feb 2009 @ 8:15 PM

  62. I would like to second Richard Pauli’s thanks to RC for publishing

    Re #14 Ken Boettger’s cogent rant.

    This comment from the Bush Fire posting
    “… The people actually living this hell – people like me, are going to aggressively get involved, because we are sick to the back teeth with what is happening to our climate and we want to go all out to stop climate change or stop it any further.”

    Both display enpassioned sincere opinion that unsafely attributes the event to Global Warming and naively assumes that we can stop climate change (now as opposed to 500 years time)

    If even interested parties do not get the fundamentals right then I fear we are doomed.
    In any event very interesting reading.

    Comment by James — 20 Feb 2009 @ 10:07 PM

  63. Greenfyre’s has a nice post, with good maps on soil types, including Why Farming the Canadian Shield might not really be a fun task. As a reminder, some good soil in the US came from Canada via the glaciers.

    Comment by John Mashey — 20 Feb 2009 @ 11:24 PM

  64. Jim this is fascinating work – thanks to you and RC for this very relevant follow up to some of the questions raised in the “Bushfires!” post below.

    Although attributing an increase in tree mortality to AGW seems reasonable to me I’m still strugging with the notion that AGW could be considered more than a small contributing factor in specific events like the Bushfires or Katrina where other factors (land use, arson, natural variability) would (at least to me) seem to be more significant than an AGW causal component. I like the way the studies you cite attempt to isolate the AGW causal factors from others and hope we see more applications (and examinations) of that method.

    Comment by Joe Hunkins — 21 Feb 2009 @ 12:31 AM

  65. 57 Aaron Lewis: Thank you. Yes, I am expecting hard times ahead. I hope there will be enough food to prevent a collapse of civilization, but I fear that the rain will not be there when you need it. If agriculture collapses, civilization collapses. It has happened dozens of times before due to very minor changes in climate. 99.99% of the people in the civilization die.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Feb 2009 @ 1:00 AM

  66. Can you point to even one story of “assisted migration” that had a happy ending for the ecosystem into which the species migrated?

    Hmm … one can think of neutral introductions, such as chukar in the western US.

    Of course, that success and neutrality is based on the fact that they co-evolved with cheatgrass, which was also established by the time they were introduced.

    Mostly, human efforts to muck with ecosystems have failed, but I’m probably not as negative as you. And in the “assisted migration” notion being presented, the “do no harm” mandate isn’t possible. We’re doing and have done harm, assisted migration would undoubtably tweak things, but the reality is that global warming is also tweaking things.

    It’s no longer a measurement of good vs. bad side effects of intervention. “bad” is a given, the only thing we can really consider is “less bad” or “more bad”.

    So maybe “assisted migration” has never had a happy ending for ecosystems, but surely sitting on our rear won’t either.

    It’s tough stuff. Conservation biologists can’t be bothered with the notion that maybe climate science is a worldwide communist conspiracy, they’re too busy looking at ecosystem effects (real, measured today) and possible paths out of this terrible trap we’ve set for ourselves.

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Feb 2009 @ 1:00 AM

  67. Hey..
    Carbon emissions are no doubt closely related to global warming .I was actively involved in a tour all over india, for creating climate awareness and found a organisation working on Carbon Positive Ecosystem
    This might interest you.

    Comment by vivek khandelwal — 21 Feb 2009 @ 3:56 AM

  68. Hey..
    Found a interesting organisation during IYCN climate awareness tour,in India who are into postive carbon emissions.
    this should interest you .

    Comment by vivek khandelwal — 21 Feb 2009 @ 3:58 AM

  69. I’m all with Aaron Lewis in his observations. Got oranges, mandarin, lemon, apricot, cherry, plum, figs and none of the fruit is doing good. Typically, the oranges are half the weight… the apricots are bland, the figs fall off at half the size, the cherry tree was done mid may, not June… ah, and the olive orchard around the house… last harvest, first in 3 years, was in 4th week October. Had flowers all through the winter from various plants. The apricot is already budding since early Feb. Then the apple trees are not worth mentioning… cricket ball size. More atmospheric CO2 may have caused an imbalance between what the plants pull from the air versus what nutrients sit in the soil. Tipping point?

    2 summers ago worked out a water recycling solution. The air conditioners produce around 50-100 liters of water daily… the air is ~50%-60% humidity, but it barely rains. Captured via a tube system in barrels and used to water plants and trees. Water from the shower is caught in bucket until it’s warm enough to go in (the kid from Barcelona gave us the idea). Again to water the plants.

    No idea where global cooling is happening, but not here!

    Oh, bees and their decline: They lost the capacity of long distance scent. Studies showed that air pollution has caused smell reach to reduce to 300 meters.

    Comment by Sekerob — 21 Feb 2009 @ 5:55 AM

  70. My responses as follows.

    #41 by Ray Ladbury.

    If evolution is not finshed, please provide me with a recent example with its immediate ancestor and the cytogenetic mechanism by which it was produced. So far no one has.

    #46 by Chris S.

    All my published and unpublished papers and essays are available at my website –

    I am not the same J.A. Davison of breast augmentation fame.

    #50 by Keith Wheldate.

    There are more unique niches being produced today than in any prior period due largely to the activities related to our technology. While it is true that prokaryotes have responded by metabolizing unique new chemicals, these responses are reversible, something evolution has never been. Similarly, the resistance to insecticides are also reversible and phasic, and accordingly do not reprsent creative evolutionary progress. Among eukaryotic organisms we observe only extinction without a single replacement organism having appeared in hisorical times. If I am wrong, it has yet to be established.

    Comment by John A. Davison — 21 Feb 2009 @ 6:16 AM

  71. Slightly OT, but what the heck — has been posting a lot of anti-AGW theory stuff; specifically, that the theory isn’t mathematical and therefore isn’t science. I joined and posted some equations and examples. Surprise, surprise, my post never showed up. I posted about that. That never showed up. Meanwhile, deniers continue to post. How interesting.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Feb 2009 @ 6:49 AM

  72. Just curious…I lived in southern Colorado and used to walk the dogs daily on spring afternoons.I often watched the wind take the snowpack right off of the mountains. Is snowpack measured in a way that disappearance due to high wind is accounted for? And, does anyone know if there is increasing mountain wind in the western US in the spring when it would affect snowpack and drought?

    Comment by christine — 21 Feb 2009 @ 6:50 AM

  73. I can understand concern about ecosystem management, but it obscures the point that we have been ‘managing’ western forests for over a century now. There are large numbers of both deliberately introduced and invasive species (e.g. pheasant, cheat grass, chukar, catalpa along rivers). Timber harvest has both removed economic species and has opened up niches for other vegetation to take advantage of the way we harvest timber.

    The question is not whether we manage the system but how.

    Comment by Mitch Lyle — 21 Feb 2009 @ 7:48 AM

  74. Joeduck, So, do you attribute World War I entirely to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian anarchists? How about attributing the Civil War entirely to the election of a President with abolitionist leanings? The point is that the immediate causes of fire–be they dry lightning, arson or whatever–are common. It is only when they occur in an environment that is particularly susceptible to fire that the result is catastrophic. Climate change alters precipitation patterns and increases evaporation. In some places, this creates conditions that increase the fuel load. I grew up in Colorado. We usually didn’t worry about forest fire, but in August, we could count on smarting eyes and respiratory difficulty from smoke blowing over to the Front Range. It is very suggestive that we are seeing increased fire susceptibilty exactly where the IPCC reports predict we would.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Feb 2009 @ 7:49 AM

  75. Dhogoza, As someone who has engaged in kudzu and multiflora rose eradication campaigns (and has the scars to prove it), and as a resident of the near-Chesapeake region, I’ve developed an axiomatic faith in the ability of humans to f*ck up the environment. This is particularly true when species are introduced to “help” the ecosystem. I don’t know of a single incident where this didn’t increase stress on native populations and accelerate their decline.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Feb 2009 @ 8:16 AM

  76. Barton Paul Levenson: Answerbag, douchebag, what’s the difference?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Feb 2009 @ 11:00 AM

  77. I don’t know of a single incident where this didn’t increase stress on native populations and accelerate their decline.

    Well, chukar studies haven’t found any such problems, and indeed might improve things slightly due to their fondness of cheatgrass (and certain other exotic weed) seed. Since they tend to hang out in a limited area, they don’t appear to be a vector for spreading cheatgrass, either.

    Of course, best would be to get rid of cheatgrass and other exotic weeds that chukar, unlike native species, dine on but unfortunately they’re here to stay. These plant species have caused immense harm to sage steppe habitat – with a big assist by another damaging introduced species, the cow.

    Also the moth introduced to attack tansy ragwort has been a rare but real biological control success story. The introduction of tansy ragwort itself was horribly negative here in the PNW, obviously.

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Feb 2009 @ 11:55 AM

  78. re ‘Answerbag’ they’re certainly reticent about who owns the site; the question is posted there, and has mostly facetious answers. One answer says it’s owned by DemandMedia, which applies the “sell the readers to the advertisers” media model quite effectively, buying up social websites, and to own a vast number of domain names. Odd. Maybe DeSmog would know how to find out more. Sorry for the digression.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2009 @ 11:59 AM

  79. Oh, it looks like DemandMedia may be Google’s first true chance to do great evil profitably, if this story is true. You know all those websites Google finds that are nothing but advertising? That’s a very profitable business model invented by DM:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2009 @ 12:03 PM

  80. Great post and comments. On the issue of ecological disruptions induced by climate change:

    Climate Change Opens New Avenue For Spread Of Invasive Plants, Nov 2008

    One way to mitigate this is to actively replant burned-out areas with appropriate mixes of native species – while keeping in mind that many of the plants are ecologically involved with plant and insect species whose range is also moving northwards:

    Birds seem to be heading farther north because of climate change, Feb 2009

    Over the 40 years covered by the Audubon study, the average January temperature in the United States climbed by about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. That warming was most pronounced in northern states, which have already recorded an influx of more southern species and could see some northern species retreat into Canada as ranges shift.

    Now, there are many proactive steps that could be taken to adapt to the new climate we are currently experiencing – but that requires that the public and government accept the reality of fossil fuel and deforestation-induced global warming.

    Take the expansion of the subtropical dry zones. Some scientists (i.e. Roger Pielke Jr.) have publicly claimed there is no science to back this up (in response to DOE Secretary Chu’s comments, Pielke said: “After 8 years of the Bush Administration’s cherry picking and selective reading of climate science it would be a shame to see the Obama Administration do exactly the same thing.”.

    What is the simplest, shortest explanation to counter that claim?

    1) Atmospheric CO2 is rising. The equation for atmospheric CO2 is here:

    Atmospheric increase = fossil fuel emissions + net emissions from land use changes – net oceanic uptake – “missing sink”.

    The split between fossil fuels and deforestation is about 70% – 30%. The “missing sink” is now generally thought to be terrestrial ecosystems, especially in the tropics. That simply closes the budget; tropical forests have thus kept atmospheric CO2 levels lower by billions of tons per year, and they cool the local surface temps via evapotranspiration as well. (By the way, traditional indigenous slash/burn farming was and is carbon neutral – it’s the conversion of tropical forest to charcoal for sale followed by cattle ranching and soy production that is most devastating).

    2) More CO2 leads to mid-atmospheric warming, the water vapor feedback, and surface warming.

    This paper and abstract lays it out succinctly:Fu et al Science May 2006, Enhanced Mid-Latitude Tropospheric Warming in Satellite Measurements

    The spatial distribution of tropospheric and stratospheric temperature trends for 1979 to 2005 was examined, based on radiances from satellite-borne microwave sounding units that were processed with state-of-the-art retrieval algorithms. We found that relative to the global-mean trends of the respective layers, both hemispheres have experienced enhanced tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling in the 15 to 45° latitude belt, which is a pattern indicative of a widening of the tropical circulation and a poleward shift of the tropospheric jet streams and their associated subtropical dry zones. This distinctive spatial pattern in the trends appears to be a robust feature of this 27-year record.

    There has also been a recent update on water vapor feedback:

    The water-vapor feedback implied by these observations is strongly positive, with an average magnitude of λ q = 2.04 W/m2/K, similar to that simulated by climate models. The magnitude is similar to that obtained if the atmosphere maintained constant RH everywhere.

    So, can we say that increased fequency drought and wildfires globally are caused by the new atmospheric composition? Can we say that a giant storms in 1997-1998 were more frequent due to El Nino? Yes, we just have to talk about the frequency of events, and not focus on any particular event. If you do that, the pattern is obvious across a wide spectrum of data.

    The pattern is modulated by the natural climate fluctuations, such as the changes in ocean-atmosphere heat and water vapor exchange during a major El Nino, and some very wet years are likely in store over the next decade – but the general trend is not reversible over the next 50 years, so we have no choice but to take steps to prepare for it – while not forgetting that the only long-term solution is the elimination of fossil fuel combustion.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 21 Feb 2009 @ 12:10 PM

  81. Re: Steve #44- 20 February 2009 at 11:08 AM “I disagree with the portrayal of forest conservation as the best mitigation strategy given by #15 (Doug).”

    There is room for debate about the roles of forests and wood products in mitigation strategies, but that quickly leads to assumptions, often unrealistic, even fanciful, about demand, product substitution and the like (OT here). However the science is quite clear that the combined carbon stored in a managed forest and wood products will be less than in the same forest landscape left alone.

    Some representative quotes from papers that start with the premise that managing for wood products will be a good thing:

    Heath and Birdsey 1993:
    “We originally hypothesized that harvesting trees and manufacturing wood products would eventually lead to larger C pools in the forest and products than the C pool in the forest from no harvesting. This does not occur within the [90-year] time frame of this study. . . . the no harvesting scenario features a larger C pool.”

    Kurz et al. 1998:
    “The transition from a natural to a managed disturbance regime in forested landscapes generally results in a reduction in C pools . . . The increase in forest product pools off-sets some of the landscape-level ecosystem C losses.”

    Perez-Garcia et al. 2005:
    “One can observe that over time, the most carbon was accumulated under the no action [i.e., no logging] scenario, followed by the scenario that allowed a clear-cut harvest to occur every 120 years, then the 80-year harvest scenario, and finally the 45-year harvest scenario.”

    For a fuller discussion with more citations, I’ll direct those interested to my paper “The implications of climate change for conservation, restoration and management of national forest lands,” available at (the pertinent section starts on p. 13)

    Heath, L. S. and R. A. Birdsey (1993). “Carbon trends of productive temperate forests of the coterminous United States.” Water, Air and Soil Pollution 70: 279-293.

    Kurz, W. A., S. J. Beukema, et al. (1998). “Carbon budget implications of the transition from natural to managed disturbance regimes in forest landscapes.” Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 2: 405-421.

    Perez-Garcia, J., B. Lippke, et al. (2005). “An assessment of carbon pools, storage, and wood products market substitution using life-cycle analysis results.” Wood and Fiber Science 37 (CORRIM Special Issue): 140 – 148.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 21 Feb 2009 @ 12:19 PM

  82. Aaron (24), Kevin (43), et al: You all are (and, alas, will likely continue to) mix up climate and weather, though you blast skeptics when they (incorrectly) do the same thing. The vast majority of climate scientists and the moderators of RC say changes in local current weather conditions, which might be as long as many decades, are not proof of climate change. This thread’s commentary says the same thing and explains pretty well why. That changes in weather might indicate a connection to climatic change is correct; that it might also point to some attribution (like this commentary), sometimes even a suspiciously significant attribution (ala the Arctic), is correct; that it ought to motivate scientists (and others) to watch it very closely, suspiciously and carefully is correct. But proof? or a “resounding yes”? — all because your hummingbirds showed up a few days early, for example? Clearly NOT.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Feb 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  83. Re: #14 (Ken Boettger)

    Scientists look closely at temperature data all the time. But just so you don’t feel that Ellensburg is neglected:

    Comment by tamino — 21 Feb 2009 @ 1:21 PM

  84. Human beings do not have the capacity to “manage ecosystems”, which are quite capable of “managing” themselves anyway.

    What we need to do is not to “manage ecosystems” but to manage our own behavior so that we do not damage and degrade ecosystems.

    The dualistic idea that the world — the Earth’s biosphere — consists of (1) human beings and (2) “resources” to be used, consumed and discarded by human beings is the root of all of our problems.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Feb 2009 @ 1:51 PM

  85. #67,68 Regarding terminology “carbon POSITIVE emissions” means (should mean) MORE CO2 emitted (to atmosphere) than sequestered (through e.g. photosynthesis) whereas “carbon NEGATIVE emissions” means less. Presumably as applied to any cradle to grave process. Thus, regarding global warming impact, “carbon positive” is negative and “carbon negative” is positive. :)

    captcha so- hopeful

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 21 Feb 2009 @ 1:57 PM

  86. Re #81: Ike, don’t confuse Pielke Jr. with any sort of climate scientist. He’s a *political* scientist. His activities are best understood if they’re seen as an effort to maximize his own profile. My advice is to keep away from the briar patch; i.e. ignore him.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 21 Feb 2009 @ 3:52 PM

  87. Phenology has a long tradition in the Netherlands.

    The data is gathered via a popular radio show and thousands of volunteers.

    This site is in Dutch but contains a lot of data about the earliest blooming dates of plants, the earliest date of spotted travelling birds, the earliest appearance dates of several insects..etc…

    Comment by Harmen — 21 Feb 2009 @ 3:53 PM

  88. OT but thought you might be interested in this:

    An absolute howler in itself!!!!!!!! Couldn’t do better if one tried. What a joke of an authority on global warming.

    This scientific howler provoked much amusement and derision on expert US blogs, such as Anthony Watts’s Watts Up With That – since “negative feedback” would lower temperatures rather than raise them. The BBC soon pulled its video.

    NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOWERS TEMPERATURE!!!! (for heavens sake get it right – it stabilises temperature!)

    How long before this howler gets corrected/pulled

    Comment by thefordprefect — 21 Feb 2009 @ 7:16 PM

  89. Ken:
    You should really listen to Gavin on not focusing on a single location. A quick look at Google indicates that any increase in temperature in and around Ellensburg needs to take into account that the population has grown by 36% since 1990. Moreover the data at NASA suggests that the temperature has certainly not chnaged at the rate that your post would suggest. Try here for temperature and here for temperature

    Comment by Bernie — 21 Feb 2009 @ 8:26 PM

  90. Re #82 Rod B.
    Many times I have noted that you disparage biological observations that confirm Global warming.

    In reality biological trends are the best proof for global warming. The point raised by Aaron Lewis in #56 illustrates my point. A single measurement or recording will miss the significant change of the time spent at the measured value. Biology however is “recording” all the time. Have you ever realized that Climate of a region controls the sort of biology that exists there.

    When it is observed that hummingbirds are coming earlier, and that it is a persistent trend, it is NOT “clearly NOT” proof of global warming.

    Honest anecdotal observations must never be disparaged. When you see black smoke billowing from all the windows in your house, but you can’t see the flames, does that mean you have no proof that your house is on fire?

    Comment by Lawrence McLean — 21 Feb 2009 @ 10:32 PM

  91. Rod B Says (21 February 2009 at 12:43 PM)

    “That changes in weather might indicate a connection to climatic change is correct; that it might also point to some attribution (like this commentary), sometimes even a suspiciously significant attribution (ala the Arctic), is correct; that it ought to motivate scientists (and others) to watch it very closely, suspiciously and carefully is correct. But proof? or a “resounding yes”? — all because your hummingbirds showed up a few days early, for example? Clearly NOT.”

    If it is just one area experiencing a change, then it could easily be just long-term weather. But if you have very many sites distributed around the world, and most if not all of them show similar evidence of warming… Well, the statisticians here can better speak to the odds that it’s just chance: I’ll stick with “three times is enemy action” :-)

    I also think it rather strengthens the argument when the warming is predicted, and the causal physics described, well in advance of the effects being noticed.

    PS: And for those following the Sierra snowpack, the forecast for Sunday & Monday is rain up to the 8000 ft level :-(

    Comment by James — 21 Feb 2009 @ 10:53 PM

  92. John A. Davison writes:

    Among eukaryotic organisms we observe only extinction without a single replacement organism having appeared in hisorical [sic] times

    Speciation normally takes hundreds of thousands of years. But since there are so many species… surprise! We have, in fact, seen speciation in historical times! Check here:

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Feb 2009 @ 5:47 AM

  93. If it is just one area experiencing a change

    Or one species in one ecosystem …

    Rod B has to explain away why the phenomena is occurring worldwide. Phenology in The Netherlands was mentioned above, the English are a bit nuts about it too. And records show changes in species arrivals, first blooms of garden plants, even the first date upon which one’s lawn needs mowing all consistent with warming (i.e. earlier in spring). Horticultural zones in the Eastern US have moved northwards. Farmers are seeing changes. Birders are seeing changes. Biologists are seeing changes. The list is long and exhaustive.

    Unless someone really has been sneaking LSD into the world’s water supply and we’re all imagining thngs, the biological evidence is that it’s warming.

    Rod B will, though, find some way to explain it away to his own satisfaction.

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Feb 2009 @ 8:45 AM

  94. What’s happening to conifers now has likely happened before (though at a much slower rate). In some global warming events in Earth’s past, it seems likely that global albedo decreased before CO2 peaked, thus contributing to events when global temperature peaked before CO2 peaked.

    Western U.S. Forests Suffer Death by Degrees by Elizabeth Pennisi
    Mortality rates in seemingly healthy conifer stands have doubled in the past several decades, and often, new trees aren’t replacing dying ones, forest ecologists report on page 521 of this issue of Science. Warmer temperatures and subsequent water shortfalls are the likely cause of the trees’ increased death rate, they say.
    Science 23 January 2009

    Comment by pat neuman — 22 Feb 2009 @ 10:51 AM

  95. There was an interesting piece on the BBC programme called “Countryfile” today – 11am on 22 February 2009. The programme can be watched on the BBC website

    The programme visited Kew Gardens and had botanical experts discussing the impacts of climate change on trees and other plant life. From the BBC website blurb: “Kew is one of the best places to see the effects of the changing climate, and thanks to more than 50 years of detailed observations from one of Kew’s botanists, scientists are now noticing some tell tale changes in our native flora.”

    Some interesting points were made. Since the 1950’s the flowering of daffodils has crept forward by 41 days. One tree expert made the comment that the effect on native tress in the temperate regions was disastrous. Such trees need to have a rest season (winter) before they wake up in the spring and because the seasons were merging into one the trees were becoming susceptible to attack by various agents.

    Apparently, as mentioned in the programme, there is a substantial database available for access to the plant observations over the decades. The climate change impacts on plant life are observable and it is through the efforts of the myriad observers who have participated that those impacts can be readily discerned.

    Comment by xyz — 22 Feb 2009 @ 1:16 PM

  96. I see the use of negative feedback to mean negative forcing continues on
    This does not inspire confidence in their conclusions!

    A few weeks ago I plotted central england temp (and Nantes) ahainst pinot noir grape harvest times. There is a pretty good correspondance as shown in this plot:

    The grape harvest can the be extended back to 1300s.

    It is a pity that the harvest date data has not been updated to the present
    some refs:

    Comment by thefordprefect — 22 Feb 2009 @ 1:18 PM

  97. Re # 70 John A. Davison, and BPL’s response (#92)

    Davison is presenting the same old arguments we’ve been hearing from the creationist and ID camps for decades. BPL’s response is on target, but merits some clarification:

    Jerry A. Coyne, a highly respected evolutionary biologist at the Univ. of Chicago has a new book out, Why Evolution is True (Viking Press), in which he addresses (in Chpt 7) the evidence for speciation past and present. From fossil and molecular evidence, he estimates that it takes between 100,0000 and five million years for a given species to diverge into two reproductively isolated populations, the defining characteristic of speciation according to Ernst Mayr’s Biological Species Concept. Consistent with this estimation, Coyne points out that the estimated 100 million extant species on this planet could have evolved from a single prokaryote ancestor living 3.5 billion years ago (the estimated time when the first cells appeared) if ancestral species split into two species once every 2 million years. At BPL notes in his response (#92), given such a slow rate of speciation, we shouldn’t expect to see species, let alone genera, form before our eyes.

    However, there is evidence that speciation can occur much faster than Coyne estimates. For example, cichlid fish occupying Lake Victoria and neighboring lakes are thought, based on DNA evidence, to have undergone a rapid period of speciation over a period of approximately 40,000 years, between 132,000 and 98,000 years ago, leading to the 500 or so endemic species that, until recently, called Lake Victoria home (Verheyen et al, Science, 11 April 2003:
Vol. 300. no. 5617, pp. 325 – 329;

    Coyne’s clear explanations of the evidence for biological evolution, including mechanisms, are reviewed in more detail in several articles in the February 6, 2009 issue of Science:
    The Red Queen and the Court Jester: Species Diversity and the Role of Biotic and Abiotic Factors Through Time
    Michael J. Benton
    Science 6 February 2009: 728-732.

    Adaptive Radiation: Contrasting Theory with Data
    Sergey Gavrilets and Jonathan B. Losos
    Science 6 February 2009: 732-737.

    Evidence for Ecological Speciation and Its Alternative
    Dolph Schluter
    Science 6 February 2009: 737-741.

    Finally, the following article (on the plant, Arabidopsis) describes a genetic mechanism that can be observed in real time and can account for reproductive isolation in plants and animals that can lead to speciation (within two generations, in some cases):
    Divergent Evolution of Duplicate Genes Leads to Genetic Incompatibilities Within A. thaliana
    David Bikard, Dhaval Patel, Claire Le Metté, Veronica Giorgi, Christine Camilleri, Malcolm J. Bennett, and Olivier Loudet
    Science 30 January 2009: 623-626;

    Gene duplication and mutations in the extra copies of the genes may explain the reproductive isolation seen in closely-related species of fruit fly, Drosophila:
    Speciation in progress? A continuum of reproductive isolation in Drosophila bipectinata.
    Kopp A, Frank AK
    Genetica. 2005 Sep;125(1):55-68

    Gene, or genome, duplication may also be responsible for the great diversity in teleost fish:
    Genome Duplication, a Trait Shared by 22,000 Species of Ray-Finned Fish
    Taylor, J. S. et al
    Genome Res. March 1, 2003 13:382-390;

    Are humans evolving? Coyne (Chpt 8 in his new book) points out that it is difficult to know. Because humans form essentally one worldwide, interbreeding population, and the key selective forces that shaped our evolution in the past have likely been eliminated by our culture and technology, it is unlikely that a new species of Homo will form by reproductive isolation and divergence. However, humans do show changes in gene frequencies over time, and it is not implausible to assume that the entire human population will change over time such that a few hundred thousand years in the future a paleontologist will look at the relicts of Homo sapiens from the year 2000 and declare those specimens a different species from him-/herself.

    Back on topic:

    Response to Rod B (#82):

    Do a Google (or better yet, Google Scholar) search for the key words “climate change range expansion” and “climate change migration” and you’ll find many recent peer-reviewed research papers documenting the north ward range expansions of more southerly species, the northward withdrawal of more northerly species, and the early arrival of migrating birds returning to the north. The anecdotal observations you dismiss should not be taken as scientific evidence in and of themselves, but they are consistent with the scientific evidence based on many studies and many species of animals and plants.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 22 Feb 2009 @ 1:42 PM

  98. 93 dhogaza

    “all consistent with warming”

    or all consistent with species continuously extending their geographic ranges?

    Don’t use garden plants as an example. The reason we have widespread Fuchsia in Irish hedgerows and Rhodedendron in Scotland is nothing to do with warming. Pyracantha everywhere is giving birds early nesting opportunities well before the beech hedges have budded.

    Comment by Jim P — 22 Feb 2009 @ 1:49 PM

  99. Correction, #94 – Should have said … seems likely that albedo INCREASED globally as conifer died-off, which may explain why global temperature peaked before CO2 peaked for some global warming events in Earth’s past.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 22 Feb 2009 @ 2:42 PM

  100. > species continuously extending their geographic ranges?
    Not while the total number is dropping off rapidly. Think.
    Some move north, some move uphill; movement toward cooler temperatures.
    Look at the population numbers and habitat fragmentation.

    Making stuff up and challenging scientists to disprove it is a tactic.
    A familiar one. But it’s not science.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Feb 2009 @ 6:14 PM

  101. or all consistent with species continuously extending their geographic ranges?

    No. To be consistent with your claim, your claim would need to be true.

    Don’t use garden plants as an example.

    Horticulturists don’t agree.

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Feb 2009 @ 6:22 PM

  102. Jim, 98: “or all consistent with species continuously extending their geographic ranges”

    Completely false, no such thing. And there is no reason why garden plants cannot be used for phenological monitoring, just not range expansion.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 22 Feb 2009 @ 6:23 PM

  103. Secular Animist re [25]:
    Since the intact tropical forests are now showing this large uptake of CO2, why would the answer to the question ‘What is soaking up less ?’ not be —-‘the destroyed tropical forests and peatlands, that have been relegated to nuisance status, due to the demand that global warming be attributed to CO2’?
    Our previous Australian government had set up , back in 1996, the world’s first Government Greenhouse Office, had funded many renewables like solar power[ set up a Solar Cities project, wave power, geo-thermal power, clean coal projects—-and initiated and funded [ with an initial $200million], a Global Forest Initiative—a reforestation policy designed to restore [ and encourage others to do so] tropical rainforests around the world, starting with the great tropical sinks that have been destroyed, and are disappearing as we speak , in our neighbouring country —Indonesia.
    No AGW proponent in our own country —no environmentalist or Greens party member here, or elsewhere in the world, gave any support whatsoever to that initiative—-opting instead to smear the leader who initiated it, labelling him as some sort of climate vandal, because he refused to sign up to Kyoto.
    Making a start on restoring the tropical forests and ending the ongoing destruction just didn’t cut it , compared with drama of demanding the end of coal.
    Of course, that leader was subsequently dumped in the 07 election, on the ‘save the planet from CO2’ issue.
    Why do you not consider that the wholesale global destruction of massive carbon sinks may be the reason atmospheric levels remain high—and why should it be accepted that AGW proponents really believe their CO2 talk, if they don’t consider that ?

    Comment by truth — 22 Feb 2009 @ 8:13 PM

  104. Of course they consider that.
    You’re proclaiming as “truth” your belief that it can’t exist because you don’t know anything about it. Consider the irony, eh?
    Current Biology, Volume 17, Issue 8, 17 April 2007, Pages R269-R273
    Primer–Global primary production

    —-Brief excerpt follows, see paper for details, numbers, cites—-

    … Concluding actions

    The idea of planting trees to reduce carbon emissions is often discussed. The scope of the problem can be nicely illuminated at the global scale. If all land use changes of the previous two centuries were reversed, then carbon accumulation in the atmosphere would be 80 PgC less than the present, leading to a global cooling of 0.4°C. By contrast, total deforestation could add as much as 400 PgC to the atmosphere, leading to a global warming of 2°C. Although these are rough estimates they indicate quite clearly that global scale management of forests, particularly in terms of increasing afforestation and reducing deforestation, has a part to play in future global climate.

    The global nature of the problem becomes clear when considering sequestration at the country scale. If the whole of the UK were reforested then this would be equivalent to a sequestration of about 1 PgC. If this directly impacted the atmospheric CO2 concentration then there would be a global cooling of 0.005°C. … The small contribution of the UK to the global change indicates that global mitigation of climatic change can only be achieved by internationally concerted action to reduce carbon emissions.

    The oceanic and terrestrial sinks for carbon currently sequester 60% of anthropogenic emissions, but this fraction is likely to decline through the 21st century. There is limited potential to stimulate this sequestration …. As was the case for afforestation the key to success will be concerted global action in controlling and enhancing species diversity.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Feb 2009 @ 11:33 PM

  105. Since the intact tropical forests are now showing this large uptake of CO2, why would the answer to the question ‘What is soaking up less ?’ not be —-‘the destroyed tropical forests and peatlands, that have been relegated to nuisance status, due to the demand that global warming be attributed to CO2’?

    Well, it could be due to the fact that this is one of the stupidest posts ever put online.

    Hank gave you too much credit by providing a serious answer.

    These guys could be geniuses, they could be totally wrong, and the increase in CO2 concentrations, and the obvious physical consequences, don’t change.

    They could be geniuses, they could be totally wrong, and it won’t impact the attribution of global warming to CO2 forcing and consequential feedbacks.

    It’s irrelevant to that issue.

    Until you understand this, please quit wasting spinning electrons and all that by posting your ****?

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Feb 2009 @ 12:28 AM

  106. I was wondering if anyone here could give me a clue on some basic numbers.

    I recall reading several years ago that the biosphere can absorb ~3Gt/yr of excess CO2(e?) from humans and we are currently pumping out ~10Gt/yr. I recently read another article that claimed we pump out ~30Gt/yr and that this represents only 2% of natural and manmade emmissions combined (I’m aware of the specious arguments around volcano’s, etc). Can someone help me clear up my fuzziness or point to a reliable source.

    Specifically, in Gt/yr – What do humans emit, what does nature emit and what is the excess the biosphere can aborb. I understand that the last two are extremely difficult to answer ( hopefully be easier with the new sattelite), any ballpark figures from a reputable source (IPCC?) would be greatly appreciated.

    Note: Name changed from previous posts on this site to distinguish between Alan and Alan Miller.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 23 Feb 2009 @ 2:32 AM

  107. Hank Roberts: re [104]
    The ‘truth’ moniker means nothing more than that I’m looking for the truth—certainly not that I claim to know the whole truth.
    It seems to give people on this blog an excuse get personal and to snipe at and try to discredit me, which is a bit small-minded, but no worries —go for your life.
    My remarks were alluding to the fact that AGW proponents , with their enormous influence, very rarely exhort us to do the reforestation, and you’d think that if they really believed the situation is so dire, they’d be taking every opportunity to do so.
    That link you included calls for global action on reforestation, so it just emphasises the narrow focus taken by the high profile AGW proponents in honing in on CO2 almost exclusively.
    Our former Prime Minister did exactly what that article calls for—-established the Global Forest Initiative, and seeded it with $200million—the plan being that other countries would be persuaded to join in the project—the global response the article says is needed.
    For that, he was painted as a global vandal, and a campaign was mounted by global AGW celebrities —especially Al Gore—- to have the Australian voters oust him ‘to save the planet’.
    The party these celebrities championed , has not kept any of its election promises on climate change.
    This is why this issue is as moral and political as it is scientific.

    Comment by truth — 23 Feb 2009 @ 2:35 AM

  108. The comment by “truth” at 8:13pm 2/22 (currently #103) really brings into focus the essential core of the fossil fuel industry’s denialist propaganda: anthropogenic global warming doesn’t exist but if it does, it is caused by something, anything other than CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels.

    And specifically, his suggestion that “environmentalists” have neglected to recognize the contribution of other factors — e.g. deforestation, destruction of wetlands and other land-use impacts; animal agriculture; etc. — to AGW is ludicrously false.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Feb 2009 @ 9:46 AM

  109. Re- 52

    I would be amazed if slope/aspect were not having an influence on tree mortality if summer drought is the driver of this increased mortality. I am certainly no expert on mountain micro-climates, but I would have thought N and E facing slopes would loose snow pack well after S and W facing slopes, possibly a few weeks after and thus have a shorter drought period, combined with lower summer temperatures. The relationship could strengthen or weaken the hypothesis, I was just surprised the authors had not considered it.

    As for nitrogen – an overview

    See also
    Influence of ozone and nitrogen deposition on bark beetle activity under drought conditions. Forest ecology and management 2004, vol. 200, pp. 67-76

    Phenological Disorder Induced by Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition: Original Causes of Pine Forest Decline over Japan. Part II. Relationship Among Earlier Phenological Development, Extreme of Minimum Air Temperature, and Forest Decline of Pines over the Japan, Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 117 p205 (don’t have access to this so have only read abstract)

    Comment by Paul Gosling — 23 Feb 2009 @ 10:12 AM

  110. Alan of Oz #106: Chapter 7 of the Fourth Assessment Report, will tell you more than you wanted to know… well maybe not. There are actually quite big error bars in this.

    Scroll to Section 7.3. Tables, graphs, the lot.

    As for your number of 30 Gt/yr, I don’t know where you got that, but it depends on what you look at. The amount of carbon cycling through the system runs in the hundreds of gigatons, but that is very nearly a closed cycle. The numbers that interest us are the deviations from closure, as they build up over time, and they are much smaller.

    [Response: 30 Gt/yr is probably in terms of Gt of CO2 rather than C (factor of 3.7) – it is often confused in discussions. – gavin]

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 23 Feb 2009 @ 10:15 AM

  111. truth wrote: “… AGW proponents , with their enormous influence, very rarely exhort us to do the reforestation …”

    That is false no matter how many times you repeat it, mister “truth”.

    Ending deforestation, and engaging in reforestation, are widely supported by environmentalists and the scientific community as vitally important measures to mitigate AGW. Both are crucial. Neither is a substitute for ending CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.

    truth wrote: “This is why this issue is as moral and political as it is scientific.”

    Very true.

    Which is exactly why the fossil fuel corporations’ campaign of deliberate deceit and denial of the scientific reality that CO2 emissions from their products are causing global warming, for the political purpose of protecting their profits and their power, is immoral.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Feb 2009 @ 10:21 AM

  112. truth paints a picture that I sure don’t recognize. I’ve heard environmentalists–yes, the same ones agitating for meaningful controls on CO2 emissions–fighting to combat deforestation, especially in the Amazon, for decades now. I’ve seen concerned citizens try to take action on their own, putting their own money into various schemes to try and support preservation of the rainforest–sometimes even achieving some mild degree of success. And of course the IPCC reports explicitly include land use in warming attribution.

    From the other side, I’ve heard scorn heaped on anyone, from Al Gore on down, who puts money into carbon offsets. (These commentators usually term them “scams” and “climate indulgences,” ridiculed as pointless acts of penance, and not infrequently allegee to be the source of Al Gore’s post-VP wealth–though this is not just unsupported, but known through publicly-reported data to be false.) And yet, what is the primary activity supported by offset money–why, planting trees and protecting woodlands, of course. What a surprise! Surely those commentators–defenders of forests as truth paints them–would favor such efforts. Wouldn’t they?

    So now those who express concern about carbon emissions don’t care about deforestation? Piffle! They’ve been precisely the ones who were concerned about deforestation all along, and who have tried to do something about it throughout the whole modern “warming era.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Feb 2009 @ 10:36 AM

  113. # 106 (Alan of Oz)

    The 10 Gt/yr number is pretty accurate (it’s probably slightly less than this). Definitely not 30. You’ll find relevant data at this link

    Concentration-wise, the CO2 equivalent is roughly 1 Gt C = 2.12 ppmv. Roughly half of the CO2 we emit is naturally taken up by the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere.

    The quote that humans emit roughly 2% of all sources combined on an annual basis is on-target, but rather misleading (if you include volcanoes or not). Natural CO2 sources are in equilibrium with natural CO2 sinks, so the net effect on atmospheric concentration change is constrained to be near zero. In fact CO2 change over the last 10,000 years is very small. If “sources” were all that mattered, concentrations would rise without bound until the entire reservoir was depleted, which is obviously not the case.

    The human emissions of fossil fuels take carbon that was buried millions of years ago, and that took millions of years to accumulate, and now we’re putting it back in decades. So, the fossil fuel emissions represent a strong “external input” of Carbon (which leads to CO2) which creates a net atmospheric change. Roughly 100% of the *change in* CO2 concentrations since pre-industrial era is anthropogenic. Comparing the change to the total emissions is not very useful (think of saying that the 1 degree change is small compared to the absolute 288 K temperature. It may be true but not physically meaningful). What’s more, CO2 has a long residence time in the atmosphere, so the anthropogenic CO2 accumulates over time…splitting it up into a “per year” basis is also not very meaningful.


    Comment by Chris Colose — 23 Feb 2009 @ 10:40 AM

  114. truth @107: “AGW proponents…very rarely exhort us to do the reforestation”

    Think Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” here, because there is simply no way that pen name was chosen on the basis of the plain English meaning of the word truth.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 23 Feb 2009 @ 10:56 AM

  115. The ironically named “truth” proclaims: “My remarks were alluding to the fact that AGW proponents , with their enormous influence, very rarely exhort us to do the reforestation, and you’d think that if they really believed the situation is so dire, they’d be taking every opportunity to do so.”

    And that, dear readers, tells you all you need to know about his credibility. Anybody who claims those concerned with climate change are not also concerned with healthy forests is either ignorant, mendacious or illiterate. I will leave it up to “truth” which he considers the “lesser charge”.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2009 @ 11:02 AM

  116. Alan, you asked for specific numbers. Did you read the link I posted a couple of responses before your question, the Primer on primary productivity? That includes some good estimates and references.

    Also look in the links at the Start Here button (top of page).

    Searching “biogeochemical cycling” into a Google Scholar search will get you to relevant information. Some from that here:

    Try here:

    Some of what’s known and being estimated about CO2 cycling:

    Ruddiman on forest clearance:

    It’s not likely you’ll get good information just asking some guy on a blog to retype something; look up answers, which will also get you information about how reliable they are and who’s working on improving them.

    If you find the source of the specific numbers you posted, tell us where you got them and we can all take a look.

    Remember most of us here are just amateur readers. One of the scientists may come along with a good answer out of personal knowledge, but they often trust us to figure out how to look stuff up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2009 @ 11:07 AM

  117. Look, ‘truth’ — when you write stuff like “AGW proponents , with their enormous influence, very rarely exhort us to do the reforestation” you sound like a troll. Most of us who’ve actually done field work in biology know this isn’t true in our own experience. Whoever you’re talking about (and you really ought to tell us) may be as dumb as you say. Anyone who claims to be an “AGW proponent” is certainly a nitwit.

    The thing is, nobody with any sense does claim to be an “AGW proponent” — but lots of trolls and fossil fuel PR people use that term a lot.

    So, why do you use it? Where did you get it? Who are you talking about specifically? Why do you believe your sources on this?

    And, if you claim to be a finder of “truth” how do you decide what it is? Tell us how much science you’ve studied, and what you believe.

    Else you just come off like a concern troll dropping one of the very familiar PR talking points. You may not know this is how it sounds.
    You may believe what you do quite sincerely.

    Sincerity isn’t reliable as a basis for evaluating accuracy. Tell us what you believe, where you found it out, and why you consider the source you’re relying on to be good.

    Who are these “AGW proponents” and where did you get the label?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2009 @ 11:19 AM

  118. I forgot — there are some in truth who are “AGW proponents” — look up the “Greening Earth Society” aka “Western Fuels Association” for more on their beliefs. And they do oppose reforestation–it interferes with strip mining coal. Maybe they’re the source of the confusion.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2009 @ 12:04 PM

  119. Chris 113 and Alan 106, I think what may be the problem here is one figure is talking about how much CARBON is being released where the other is talking about how much OXYGEN-CARBON-OXYGEN is released.

    Being there are two big atoms added in to one, it is, per carbon atom, about 3x bigger than the carbon atoms alone.

    Another anomaly may be the use of “CO2 equivalent” which includes all the other GHG that are released weighted by concentration and absorptive power. Obviously, there’s more CO2+CH4+O3+… than there is just CO2 on its own.

    Comment by Mark — 23 Feb 2009 @ 12:25 PM

  120. Re # 97 Comment by Chuck Booth.

    Human evolution today is called overpopulation. Global warming is just one consequence of this over-adaptation. So it would be better if there were no more human evolution. Humans seem to have been at their optimal condition, as far as brain development and anatomy goes for several thousand years, nothing further seems necessary and would probably introduce damaging mutations. The colonizing phase of homo sapiens is over. So your peculiar demographic hyperbole seems uninformed.

    “Within a finite period of time past, the earth must have been, and within a finite period of time to come the earth must again be, unfit for the habitation of man as at present constituted.”

    Lord Kelvin

    “Everything has a supreme moment and is crucial; that is where our friends the evolutionists go wrong.”

    G.K. Chesterton

    Comment by Entropicist — 23 Feb 2009 @ 1:33 PM

  121. > better if there were no more human evolution.

    The teleology, it burns.

    Please eschew. You can find those people holding forth in many other blogs on their favorite subject.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2009 @ 2:05 PM

  122. Hank, I have often used “AGW proponents” but now see how it can have a meaning that isn’t what is intended. What would you suggest? Would simple “AGW believer” do? That doesn’t seem to address the overt nature (believers can be silent) which is where proponent stems from…, but what?

    Comment by Rod B — 23 Feb 2009 @ 2:07 PM

  123. Re #120: 1)Evolution is off topic.
    2)It is clear from your talk of “optimal conditions” that you don’t understand the subject in any case.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2009 @ 2:08 PM

  124. The estimate that I recall for excess carbon emission for 2007 CE is

    8.5 GtC from fossil fuels

    1.6 GtC from deforestation

    total excess carbon = 10.1 GtC.

    That is (44/12)x10.1 = 37 GtCO2.

    Should be able to find the numbers here:

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Feb 2009 @ 2:35 PM

  125. Rod, I never have understood why you reiterate your beliefs about others’ beliefs. Sorry. It’s not science.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2009 @ 3:21 PM

  126. Hank, I have often used “AGW proponents” but now see how it can have a meaning that isn’t what is intended. What would you suggest? Would simple “AGW believer” do? That doesn’t seem to address the overt nature (believers can be silent) which is where proponent stems from…, but what?

    I can live with “AGW proponent”, but then, I often use “Cheerleaders for the Apocalypse” when describing AGW deniers.

    Comment by duBois — 23 Feb 2009 @ 4:29 PM

  127. Re 82: Rod, my point was that small changes in temperature as measured by conventional weather/climate metrics can have a significant impact on plants and pollinators. Moreover, that those impacts may be abrupt and quantum rather than gradual and linear.

    My observations say that we do not have a science that ties climate change expressed in degrees to agriculture and the environment. What body of science said, “Starting in 2005, daffodils in Pleasant Hill are going to start blooming in November and December rather than in March”? Mark Lynas understates the problem in “Six Degrees”. We thought linear, and it was *not* linear. We got it wrong. John Muir’s daffodils prove that we got it wrong. We need to get it correct before Mother Nature takes out her red pencil, checks our final exam, and grades us: “Failed”!

    I have not heard of “weather” that lasted for decades since a bunch of geologists were defending their design criteria for a waste disposal repository that was required by law to be stable for 10,000 years. They also missed the concept of climate change. However, that was 1989.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 23 Feb 2009 @ 4:30 PM

  128. There’s some very interesting stuff about changes in the distribution of marine species around the Arctic in the new The integrated Arctic Ocean Observing System (iAOOS) in 2008 report [PDF download from Damocles], with nice graphics. Very striking maps of changes in zooplankton populations around Britain and NW Europe (ecosystem section pps 48-65), for example.

    Lots of other interesting stuff in there for Arctic watchers – worth a read.

    Comment by Gareth — 23 Feb 2009 @ 4:39 PM

  129. So — this topic is about the Western US science.
    Maybe if we shut up a bit some of the actual scientists working in this area will speak up. I’ll pipe down and hope we hear from some more scientists. C’mon, y’all.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2009 @ 4:45 PM

  130. Human “evolution” is now technological rather than biological. This has been true for a long time, certainly since the development of agriculture.

    As such humanity’s “evolution” through technological adaptation is very much to the point.

    Indeed, our survival as a species in the face of anthropogenic global warming now depends not on the slow trial-and-error algorithms of biological evolution — i.e. mutate randomly, keep what prospers, discard what doesn’t — but on intentional, fast-paced technological evolution. We can see that the technological adaptations of fossil-fuel driven industrial revolution are an evolutionary dead end. We need to move quickly to replace them with new and better technological adaptations, to render them extinct before they render us extinct.

    In other words, we could sure use some intelligent design around here right about now. Homo solaris, anyone?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Feb 2009 @ 5:00 PM

  131. Re#107 – “The ‘truth’ moniker means nothing more than that I’m looking for the truth—certainly not that I claim to know the whole truth.”

    You won’t find truth or certainty in science, at best you will find intellectual honesty and evidence.

    Science is a philosophy based on two articles of FAITH

    1. The “real world” exists.
    2. Other beings like myself can observe what I observe in the “real world”.

    An excellent book on the subject is Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World”.

    PS: Thanks to those who replied to my earlier question.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 23 Feb 2009 @ 5:13 PM

  132. Sorry for the delay, but my computer’s been attempting suicide recently.

    Kevin, 43:

    The main point of this post is that when attributing changes in ecosystems at small(er) scales, to human-induced global climate changes, it is necessary (and possible) to connect them to the climatic changes at that same scale, and then to climate changes at the larger scale, retaining justified attribution at each step in the process. Not sure I made or explained this point strongly enough.

    Steve, 44:

    I agree that there is an argument to be made for sequestering carbon via timber products. I do not believe that old-growth should be included in such considerations however–too many other (better) ways to conserve carbon, and too many ecological benefits to old growth. Thanks for the refs.

    Chris, 46:

    Thanks for the additional links. There are LOTS of possibilities, and a real need, for citizen contribution to this problem.

    Hank, 49 etc:

    Thanks for the numerous links Hank.


    The “what’s a few degrees among friends” argument ignores the critical sensitivity of ecosystem elements and processes to temperature’s direct and indirect effects (the “other” climate sensitivity I’ll call it), as Aaron Lewis has brought up.

    Aaron, 56:

    Important point regarding the proper measurement variable. The accumulated sum of thermal energy (a la growing degree days or hours) can be critical. So can maxima and minima or distribution tails in general. So can means. Depends on the process involved. Your overall point about oranism sensitivity to what are considered small, or even non-existent, climate changes is crucial. But you have to be able to tie those small scale climate changes to those at the larger scale, and attribute the latter properly. Not sure you’re getting that point.

    Jenik, 55:

    Thanks for the proper link Jenik.

    John, 55.

    Looks like we Amerians owe the Canadians, big time.

    Joe, 64.

    Thanks. An important goal is to provide probabilistic estimates of cause at as small a scale as possible. The climate scientists have led the way in this endeavour IMO.

    Mitch, 73:

    Like the sign: “Answers to questions, $1. Correct answers, $5”. Ecosystem management? Sure, no problem. Wise ecosystem management? Well that’s going to cost ya.

    Rick, 81:

    Very impressed with your report Rick, comprehensive and well written. Thanks again.

    Rod, 82:

    Changes in local weather “as long as many decades” ARE, by definition, climatic changes. The point is the degree to which such observed changes at small spatial scales can be attributed to human activites that are known to be forcing climatic changes at the global scale. And it’s not just a “connection” (as in synonymous with correlation), but a probabilistic attribution among a suite of possible causes, i.e. an ability to assess the likelihoods of possible causes.

    Harmen, 87:

    Thanks for the link.

    Lawrence, 90.

    Don’t know if they’re the best proof, but they’re the most ecologically relevant, and can certainly be quite sensitive.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 23 Feb 2009 @ 7:44 PM

  133. Rod B. asks: “Would simple “AGW believer” do?”

    How about scientist, since anthropogenic causation of the current warming epoch is simply what the evidence suggests?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2009 @ 7:47 PM

  134. > Managing western forests

    Those in the field know this book; others would find it eye-opening, I think:

    A Conspiracy of Optimism: Management of the National Forests since World War Two
    PW Hirt, U of Nebraska Press, 1996
    ISBN 080327288X, 9780803272880

    Cited by 111:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2009 @ 9:36 PM

  135. Ike, 80.

    Thanks Ike. Two of the best refs for large scale plant and animal phenology and distribution changes are: Parmesan and Yohe (2003) Nature 421:37-, and Parmesan, (2006), Annual Review Ecology and Systematics 37:637–69. Also Root, 2003, Nature 421:57-

    Pat, 94:

    That’s the news story, in Science, of the article I’m referring to here. Unfortunately, even it is not free w/o subscription (what are they thinking?).

    xyz, 95:

    Look also at the table in the link provided above to the Netherlands data by Harmen ( Look at 2nd column from right in Table 2, which is the number of days advance from the 1940-1968 mean (presumably the mean of the yearly medians, but i can’t read dutch–Harmen?), to the 2007 median. Make your own interpretation.

    Paul, 109:

    I don’t think you understood my explanation. N to E facing slopes DO hold snow longer, but that’s not the point here. There is not necessarily any reason to assume the mortality RATE would increase differentially between the two aspect classes. But supposing there were, the data show that any such effect is minimal at best. Only 13% of the plots showed no increase, and even if you assume the worst case scenario (all 13% located on northerly facing slopes, thus maximizing the effect of slope on mortality, given the data), there’s still only a small effect. The only way aspect could be an important factor is if southerly slopes are heavily favored in the plots, which I’m pretty sure the authors would have noticed and accounted for, given that they were careful to account for a number of other possible confounding effects. I’m looking at the N article cited and others. Am skeptical but willing to be persuaded.

    Aaron, 127:

    I agree with the gist of your comment (it most definitely is anything but linear), but regarding the suitable metric, growing degree hours, where hourly data are either available or interpolate-able, should do what you want.

    Animist, 130

    I vote for your last line as quote of the post.

    captcha: be disturbing. Guess we got that one down.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 23 Feb 2009 @ 10:52 PM

  136. Re # 121, 122, 123.

    What does teleology have to do with overpopulation? Human overpopulation is the cause of global warming. I believe I said the human brain and genome have not changed for several thousand years, hence ‘optimal’. This is just the English language. Any changes like say the Sickle Cell as an adaptive trait to environmental stresses are indeed deleterious and unhealthy. Its clear you are ignorant of basic biological concepts like ‘colonizing phase’ that is an evolving, growing, species, hence my reference to human overpopulation, and ‘climactic phase’ where a species has filled up the carrying capacity of its surroundings. But apparently we’re dealing here with paranoia, where acolytes of outdated notions of progress and Darwinism feel threatened by the laws of thermodynamics.

    Comment by Entropist — 23 Feb 2009 @ 11:05 PM

  137. Entropist says… well, not very much, really.

    Ho hum. Too early in the morning for a boring post like that. Come back when you get new material…or when you understand biology or thermodynamics for that matter.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2009 @ 9:25 AM

  138. Off topic, I realize, but how disappointing this is for science: The NASA global CO2 monitoring satellite failed to reach orbit.

    Comment by Dan — 24 Feb 2009 @ 10:10 AM

  139. Re 135

    I think you are missing my point. My general criticism of the paper is that the authors have too easily concluded that climate change is the cause of increased tree mortality without proper consideration of other factors. I suspect that there are a number of factors involved acting synergistically, one of which may be nitrogen deposition, one of which is probably increased drought stress due to higher temperatures, there may even be other possibilities, such as a change in species dominance to shorter lived species (pure speculation there). My point about slope/aspect is not that it is a factor in increased mortality (it hasn’t changed after all) but that if water deficit is an important factor in increased mortality there should be a relationship between aspect and mortality. It will be more subtle than N facing slopes have seen reduced mortality and S facing increased, there are other factors involved as well, but if it is not a factor I would suggest that drought is not the primary driver of increased mortality. The authors may have considered it, but they do not indicate so in the supplementary material and if they did not it is a surprising omission.

    Comment by Paul Gosling — 24 Feb 2009 @ 10:48 AM

  140. ““Within a finite period of time past, the earth must have been, and within a finite period of time to come the earth must again be, unfit for the habitation of man as at present constituted.”

    Lord Kelvin

    “Everything has a supreme moment and is crucial; that is where our friends the evolutionists go wrong.”

    G.K. Chesterton” – Entropocist

    Argument by quotation: the favourite approach of the irrational.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 24 Feb 2009 @ 11:25 AM

  141. # 135 Dr. Bouldin,
    Attribution is discussed in IPCC Technical Paper 5, “Climate Change and Biodiversity”. The required chill hour data is on the UC Davis Pomology site. Perhaps one of your undergrad students would like to do a paper on “Changes and Effects of California Chill and Frost Hours as a Result of Global Warming?”

    It concerns me how little of Technical Paper 5 made it into AR4, and particularly the Summary for Policy Makers. From here, it seems that a primary and immediate source of risk from global warming that should be in the forefront of every policymaker’s mind was left out of the Summary for Policy Makers, i.e., current and potential impacts on plants and hence impacts on food supplies.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 24 Feb 2009 @ 12:32 PM

  142. Paul 139 are you misapprehending and making the jump from “climate changes can easily explain most of the tree mortality” to “climate change is causing tree mortality”?

    We’ve already had a couple of points on other threads about denialism having a big problem with multiple causations and with one being the main but not only cause.

    Comment by Mark — 24 Feb 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  143. Paul,

    You state: “My point about slope/aspect is not that it is a factor in increased mortality (it hasn’t changed after all) but that if water deficit is an important factor in increased mortality there should be a relationship between aspect and mortality… if it is not a factor I would suggest that drought is not the primary driver of increased mortality”

    NO! You are NOT getting the point. Please re-read my two responses above to this claim re aspect. You are throwing out a bunch of random possible influences without any real reason to believe that any of them are important, or worse, that have evidence to argue that they are probably NOT important (e.g. aspect). There is no inherent reason to believe that increased mortality rates are caused by aspect considerations, or N loading for that matter, which generally helps not hurts, tree health and vigor. As for transition to shorter lived species, absolutely not, these are undisturbed, late successional forests, dominated by long-lived conifers.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 24 Feb 2009 @ 12:59 PM

  144. In related news, the Orbiting Climate Observatory made an ironic plunge into the Antarctic region after a fairing failed to separate during launch:

    I had a bad feeling about this when I saw the launch vehicle being assembled with bucket trucks, looking completely orphaned in the scrub at Vandenburg. It appears climate change research is given some of the same lip service we pay to children’s education: oh so very important but we can’t actually bring ourselves to spend enough money…

    [Response: In the absence of any actual information as to what the background cause was, assuming that the failure was because of penny-pinching is completely premature. – gavin]

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 24 Feb 2009 @ 1:29 PM

  145. re 144: Point taken, and the Taurus track record has been fairly reasonable, with only about a 20% failure rate. I guess my general thrust was more along the lines that you won’t see Rupert Murdoch’s latest geosynchronous drivel pump (AKA direct broadcast television relay) being handled the the way the Carbon Observatory was. More money is larded into that type of launch and it shows up in the success rate. What’s more, there’s no immediate plan for handling this failure with a replacement, another sad diagnostic that makes me wish we had a greater sense of urgency in funding climate science.

    [Response: Remember too that OCO was an experimental instrument to demonstrate proof of concept (see here) and wouldn’t have happened at all if it was much more expensive. This is just one of those things unfortunately. – gavin]

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 24 Feb 2009 @ 2:21 PM

  146. Doug, 145, 2 out of 8 launches is what I read. 25%.

    And the first time this version was used.

    Comment by Mark — 24 Feb 2009 @ 2:50 PM

  147. Drought triggered tree mortality in mixed conifer forests in Yosemite National Park, California, USA; GUARIN Alejandro (1) ; TAYLOR Alan H. (1) ;

    “We sought answers to the following questions: (1) Do periods of high tree mortality correspond with drought? (2) Do spatial and temporal patterns of high tree mortality vary by slope aspect? and (3) Do different tree species exhibit similar temporal and spatial patterns of tree mortality? We identified temporal patterns of tree mortality on three north- and south-facing slopes by determining the death date of trees using dendrochronology. Tree death date frequency was then compared by slope aspect and to Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), and April snowpack depth as measures of growing season water availability. The frequency of tree death dates was negatively correlated with annual and seasonal PDSI and April snowpack depth, and more trees died in years with below normal PDSI and snowpack. Correlations between tree mortality and drought were evident only for multi-year periods (2-5 years).

    Temporal patterns of tree death were similar on north- and south-facing slopes and among species, but the density of dead trees was higher on north than south slopes. Dense stand conditions caused by fire suppression, and the coincident outbreak of bark beetles during drought, may have limited any buffering effect of topography on tree mortality.”

    hit # 2 on google search ‘aspect “tree mortality”‘

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 24 Feb 2009 @ 3:08 PM

  148. We can hope the labs have enough spare parts to
    recreate the satellite while the Japanese satellite is still on orbit, so they can do the overlapping coverage planned. Hope they put a tip jar open online (wry grin).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2009 @ 3:55 PM

  149. “atmospheric nitrogen deposition increased tree susceptibility to beetle attack”

    “it may be concluded that the combined effects of accelerated phenological progress and reduced frost hardiness caused by acid deposition, mainly nitrogen deposition … are the original main factors of mortality of pine trees…”

    “We found that the strongest predictors of tree mortality were regional patterns of precipitation and temperature, though the magnitude and direction of the effects of these varied among functional and taxonomic groups.

    In terms of anthropogenic pollutants, increases in both acid and nitrogen deposition moderately increased mortality, while the effects of ozone were weak but statistically significant.”

    “Four years of severe drought from 1999 through 2003 led to unprecedented bark beetle activity in ponderosa and Jeffrey pine …
    Pines in the San Bernardino Mountains also were heavily impacted by ozone and nitrogenous pollutants …..
    Tree mortality and beetle activity were significantly higher at the high pollution site.”

    “Given the rapid colonization by mountain pine beetles of former climatically unsuitable areas during the last several decades, continued warming in western North America associated with climate change will allow the beetle to further expand its range northward, eastward and toward higher elevations.

    It appears to me that the underlying causes of increased tree mortality are primarily driven by global warming – early bud break before the last killing frost, drought and other changes in precipitation, expansion of beetle activity – and that nitrogen deposition intensifies some of the effects (decreased frost tolerance, increased beetle attack), rather than being a prime cause.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 24 Feb 2009 @ 4:13 PM

  150. In testimony before House aviation subcommittee hearings about Flight 1549 Tuesday “The bird problem has been growing. Since 1990, the number of Canada geese that live year-round in the country rather than migrating has grown from 1 million to 3.9 million,” John E. Ostrom, chairman of the Bird Strike Committee-USA, testified.

    Another problem to blame anecdotally on AGW? &;>)

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 24 Feb 2009 @ 4:26 PM

  151. RE #22 and #34 Chuck Booth. These are perfect examples of Aeron’s #24 point on reticence.

    This is where you fail. “Just remember a definition for climate change is: averages, averages, averages.” No offense, but…

    Last time I gave you information on where to find real surface temp changes of 20 degrees from real NOAA data from local airports. Most of you have refused to look at that data using excuses like “do you have proof no one has looked at this data?” And some of you say “well just because it is happening there does not mean it is happening here or there…” and REFUSING to go find out for yourself!

    Yes, I do have proof that you have NOT looked at the data. If you have to ask, then yes, that you ask is proof that it has not been reviewed or considered seriously. You would not have to pose that question to me. Think about it. You are a scientist aren’t you? If ethical scientists had looked at the NOAA data, the data would have been prsented here as elsewhere, and given the severity of surface warming – they would be screaming bloody murder. THE FACT THAT IT HAS NOT BEEN PRESENTED ON RC IS INDICATIVE OF THE FACT THAT NONE OF YOU HAVE LOOKED AT IT SERIOUSLY.

    Averages at this point are a waste of time. Sure, I can take a profile of temps from 3 miles all the way down to the surface of the earth and say there is a 0.1 degree change in temperature. But ask yourselves what really matters? The temperature at 3 miles up or the 20 degree change in temperature AT THE SURFACE?

    We do not grow crops at 3 miles up! We do not use our air conditionsers 3 miles up! Ask yourselves what really matters here. I could care less what happens even 100 feet up. What matters is the zone where we live AT THE SURFACE. It is what happens at this SURFACE zone that will determine if we are here commenting to each other in 20 or 30 years.

    It is hear at the surface that we have to live. Sure, averages have their part to play, but to focus on averages is assinine at this point when we have such dramatic surface increases. It is what is at the surface that will kill us. It is here we need to focus our attention and to make the world aware.

    Some of you tell me we have to look at averages. OK, lets look at Average changes in SURFACE temps. I am told the ice sheets are melting. So the far north and far south are covered. We have warming. We have significant warming. I look at the melting glaciers on 90 percent of our mountain ranges around the globe. THEY ARE MELTING! I see it now in the NOAA data in my own home town and ask you to look at your own NOAA data. And what is the response here

    Reticence. Looking the other way. Denial. Bias.

    Certainly not science.

    The question is for YOU to show me where there is significant cooling to average out these majority of warming events that have been so fully documented?


    There was an article some years ago in the local science magazines of Albert Einstein. A picture of him upside down with a simple statement at the bottom “genius is the ability to look at things differently”.

    My formal background is in ecology and computer science. One of my peers wrote an article that all of you should consider seriously. Take a look at the images of changing agricultural zones. Everywhere there is warming. Nowhere is their cooling. Our changing SURFACE agricultural zone maps (as commonly found on the back of seed packets) – comparison of the zones from 15 years of data:

    You accuse me of stating only conditions in my own place of residence in my previous post. How absolutely unfair. NOT A ONE OF YOU WHO ATTACKED ME TOOK THE TIME TO LOOK UP YOUR OWN NOAA DATA AS I ASKED YOU TOO. My whole point of demonstrating the NOAA data was for confirmation from others. It was a scientific endeavor of proof of fact.

    And you wrote me off.

    And you call yourselves scientists???

    The above is Arbor Day Foundation data. It demonstrates a 20 degree change in SURFACE temperatures in the last 15 years. It confirms the NOAA data I presented in my post above. And it applies across the entire west coast. The question is, will we see another 20 degree change in SURFACE temperature in the next 15 years? THAT IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO HUMANKIND! Phuck the change in averages from 0.1 to 0.2. What matters is another 15 degrees change AT THE SURFACE from what was orginally 95 in summer 50 years ago, to 112 degrees last summer, and the potential for 135 in another 15 years!

    That is where the focus should be.

    Given the severity of surface temps and its implications in the zone in which we live, I could care less about averages. We have a serious SURFACE problem. Spending the next 15 years on the study of averages will likely assure our demise. We will have focused on the wrong thing.

    Meanwhile, the majority of you book worm types will say “the average is now 0.2 degrees of warming”. Some of you will say that is not significant change. Meanwhile real people and real ecosystems are dying at the surface.

    What matters is surface temperatures. Certainly, average temps have their part to play, but to focus on averages and not surface temps – the temps that will determine whether life on this planet lives or dies – is paramount. Most of you have your heads stuck in the clouds or up in the far north or south where they should not be.

    [Response: Please, no more ranting. I will delete anything else that doesn’t remain calm. By the way, you can shift a zone that is marked in 10 deg bands just by having a average temperature move from 9.9 to 10.1 deg C. – gavin]

    Comment by Ken Boettger — 24 Feb 2009 @ 5:09 PM

  152. this may not be the proper thread. if not please redirect me.

    have you heard of “project steve”? if not google it.

    i thought project steve was such a clever way to “rebut” the obvious “denial” of the case/truth for the “scientific consensus” on evolution. (and those denialsists LOVE lists! semnate minority report, oregon list.) i’m almost sure a similar consensus exists in the case of “global warming”. the percentage may not be 99% like in project steve, it must be up there. i’m not a scientist so i can’t go around to my friends and have them sign this silly list. CAN YOU SUGGEST A FORUM for the idea of maybe a “PROJECT AL” (though al gore has problems) for global warming? maybe “project jim”?

    Comment by walter crain — 24 Feb 2009 @ 7:43 PM

  153. gavin,

    I figure you have nothing to do with the project, but I was wondering if you or anyone at NASA could provide insight into the recent rocket crash in Antarctica (which I gather was going to measure carbon dioxide sources sinks).

    Comment by Chris Colose — 24 Feb 2009 @ 8:08 PM

  154. Doug Bostrom, Let the failure review board do its work. As failures go, this one ought to be easy to resolve–unlike failures on orbit. They may even be able to retrieve some wreckage.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2009 @ 8:52 PM

  155. Yeah, they said the shroud just didn’t pop off. Nice satellite, but still in the box, no power, no visibility. Do we know if they intentionally caused it to fail to reach orbit, knowing it’d be dead on arrival?

    Good thing it went splash and didn’t go far enough to hit an ice shelf, or we’d be hearing the ice only broke off because they’d hit it with a climate science rocket.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2009 @ 9:08 PM

  156. Ken, Tamino sums it up. Did you read the thread there? You should go carefully through the whole posting he wrote.

    He sums up there — but you need to read his whole text befor you get to his summary:

    “… The upshot is that the commenter is correct that temperature has changed noticeably in Ellensburg (and nearby Wenatchee), but some of the extreme conclusions he draws are contradicted by the data. He’s also mistaken about scientists not examining the data: we do that a lot.

    “I think it’s also a good idea for some people to calm down. And for others to get more agitated. I’m in favor of drastic action. I oppose going ballistic.”

    Why not go ballistic? When you’re ballistic you no longer have any maneuvering capability. Aim and correct your aim.

    Why drastic action? You understand that. The problems are on our watch and are horrifying. We need to teach people how to think about them, how to analyze, how to do the statistics, or figure out who to trust who is doing them.

    Lots of us here are just amateur readers. Some are qualified scientists and great teachers.

    Learn from them. We all do, we all can.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2009 @ 9:20 PM

  157. Ah, the fairing was too heavy to haul to orbit:

    “… “The fairing has considerable weight relative to the portion of the vehicle that’s flying. So when it separates off, you get a jump in acceleration. We did not have that jump in acceleration. As a direct result of carrying that extra weight, we could not make orbit.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2009 @ 9:43 PM

  158. Brian,

    You are citing two of the same articles cited by Paul (one of them twice). There is NO REASON to believe that N saturation is a causal factor in most of the stands studied by van Mantgem et al. Their stands were almost entirely in rural western locations, away from urban areas, and thus large N sources. Such locations typically receive 1-3 kgN/ha/year, are typically N limited, and would thus generally benefit by N deposition, not be harmed by it. Where would this supposed N loading be coming from? The cited study by Jones et al was in an N saturated and heavily-ozone impacted forest in S CA, during a severe 5 year drought, infested with bark beetles and, in all respects, completely atypical of the sites studied by van Mantgem. By contrast, van Mantgem relate their findings to widespread changes in temperature and snowpack that are supported both by empirical data and the output of several regional climate models.

    See: Fenn et al., 1998. Nitrogen excess in North American ecosystems: Predisposing factors, ecosystem responses, and management strategies. Ecological Applications 8:706-733.

    Please, if people are going to suggest or perpetuate alternative explanations to their findings, do so with some knowledge of the factors likely to be involved.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 24 Feb 2009 @ 10:03 PM

  159. Wow more heated thread than usual. Good post. There are definite limits to how much plant life can take, some we know or have an idea, many others we do not, but do we really want to wait for a lot more plant life to die out? This is serious business and not a game of I told you so.

    Also one or two regional changes are of interest, but not revealing of the larger picture, hence why there are so many data sources and methods employed in both observations and analysis of data.

    It is good the planet had CO2 sinks and that the natural system does offset CO2 emissions, but there are limits. Think of the human body, the human body can buffer a lot of acidic compounds and maintain a near neutral blood ph, but if the system is offset and the ph drops you have acidosis on your hands, the reverse and you alkalosis. Now, this is just an analogy, but think of the Ocean waters beginning to drop in ph and the water concerting into carbonic acid in the presence of CO2. Now this does not happen overnight, it actually takes a lot of CO2. The same goes for plant life, they have complicated biochemical cycles, and if you do not believe me,pick up a graduate textbook on Plant cycles and biochemistry or go to scholar. There are very real positive and negative feedback systems. Most humans do not die from having one cigarette do they? Again a comparative tool, but it has biological/ecological significance.

    Comment by jcbmack — 24 Feb 2009 @ 10:09 PM

  160. Ken:
    Your citation caused me to go to the Arbor Day Foundation where country wide maps are displayed. Apparently the 2006 data is based on 5000 weather stations. I was looking for a rport on how they generated these maps. Do you have a citation since I couldn’t find one on the Arbor Day Foundation site?

    Comment by Bernie — 24 Feb 2009 @ 11:13 PM

  161. Bernie:
    “… (National Arbor Day Foundation 2006; This system identifies 11 different zones, each of which represents a 10-degree-Fahrenheit (5.6-degree-Celsius [°C]) range in average annual minimum temperature….”

    BioScience 57(11):929-937. 2007 doi: 10.1641/B571105
    Beyond Traditional Hardiness Zones: Using Climate Envelopes to Map Plant Range Limits

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2009 @ 11:45 PM

  162. I do think that this is a crucial aspect of evidencing global warming, even though the models have so greatly improved. The climate- ecological chain is crucial for so many people to be able to see.

    Comment by jcbmack — 25 Feb 2009 @ 1:20 AM

  163. Oh, Bernie, they have a contact link on their page so you could ask Arbor Day Foundation directly for more info if you want to. Or, to take that one step further, take the string from the Arbor Day page and put it into Google; this result looks like it ought to lead you to what they were using.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2009 @ 1:34 AM

  164. Tropical savanah systems are also undergoing significant change: fire + climate + CO2 + grazing and may be a small but significant part of global “missing sink” (but seemingly neglected in 1990 national inventories for the Kyoto baseline see Kyoto Article 3.7)

    W. H. Burrows, B. K. Henry, and P. V. Back, et al., “Growth and carbon stock change in eucalypt woodlands in northeast Australia: ecological and greenhouse sink implications,” Global Change Biology, vol. 8, no. 8, pp. 769–784, 2002.

    Comment by Richard Darksun — 25 Feb 2009 @ 4:37 AM

  165. Well, Ken, when you look in an atlas there is a little graph showing monthly temperatures and a little blurb underneath talking about the climate.

    How do you think they get this information?

    By taking the average march temperature, rain, winds, humidity over decades and using the average as “well, on a march, it will likely be the average figure”.

    How would you do it if this is not science?

    Comment by Mark — 25 Feb 2009 @ 4:45 AM

  166. A recent report by Japan Society of Energy and Resources (JSER), which the western media has ignored, contends that any global warming is natural. JSER is the academic society representing scientists from the energy and resource fields, and acts as a government advisory panel. The report appeared last month but has received curiously little attention. So The Register commissioned a translation of the document – the first to appear in the West in any form. What is really interesting about this report is that these guys are not lightweights. Especially, Kanya Kusano, who is Program Director and Group Leader for the Earth Simulator at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science & Technology (JAMSTEC).

    Comment by Tyrone — 25 Feb 2009 @ 9:22 AM

  167. Tyrone, it sounds to me like yet another energy industry think-tank. I’m not making a final judgement for dismissing the whole thing out of hand, but it sounds at first hearing pretty familiar.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Feb 2009 @ 9:42 AM

  168. Tyrone, don’t give El Reg links. When it comes to weather/climate they are as bad as anything senator inholfe can manage to get up to.

    And a highly respected astronomer Patrick Moore says AGW is all a myth though he has no training in climate science (heck, I don’t think he even has a degree that isn’t honorary) so why is is impressive stature in astronomy commutated into a significant stature in climate science?

    Same deal here.

    Comment by Mark — 25 Feb 2009 @ 9:51 AM

  169. Jim Re – 143

    I think we are talking at cross purposes here regarding aspect/slope and this is hardly the medium for effective discussion. Have a look at the paper cited by Brain in 147 – perhaps we can agree that it is a complex issue and leave it there?

    Drought triggered tree mortality in mixed conifer forests in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. Guarín A,. Taylor A H. 2005 Forest Ecology and Management Volume 218, Issues 1-3, 229-244

    As for other factors. I think N deposition at these sites may be higher than your suggested 1-3 kg/ha/yr (see reference below). Many sites are relatively close ( less than 50 miles) to densely populated areas or areas of intensive agriculture, but again we cannot be sure of the effect on mortality, probably slight, maybe zero, but I would suggest we do not know? I don’t have access to Ecological Applications to see your reference I am afraid.

    Nitrogen Emissions, Deposition, and Monitoring in the Western United States. Fenn et al BioScience 53(4):391-403. 2003

    As for other potential impacts on mortality in addition to climate change, who knows, my remark about changes in species composition was an unwise throw away remark (thought see Guarín and Taylor), but my main gripe with the paper is that the authors did not seem to have given much consideration to other factors, leaving me questioning. Ok climate change is important, but how important 20% of the effect, 50%, 100%? Without consideration of all the other potential factors its not clear. Yet the spin of the paper is that the observed trend in mortality is 100% climate driven, from Canada to Southern California; is this likely? I have been obliquely accused of being a denialist by one poster because of my comments on this paper (ironic as my current funding is tied to looking at carbon sequestration in soils), I do not deny climate change, its primarily anthropogenic cause, or that it appears to be a major driver of increased tree mortality in the Western USA. What I will deny is that ecological processes can be reduced to simple responses to single factors, which this paper implies. I am sure the authors do not think this and it is a failure of journals like Science and Nature that to have any chance of getting published it is necessary to focus on the message and avoid any ambiguity or introduce doubt into the conclusions. However, my experience is that ecology is a complex subject, rarely open to simple answers and hence van Mantgems paper left me with more questions than answers.

    Comment by Paul Gosling — 25 Feb 2009 @ 10:20 AM

  170. Hank (#161 and #163)
    Thanks. The article really doesn’t address how the new map was generated. I did send an email to arborday.
    Please delete if this is a duplicate. Captcha is playing tricks

    Comment by Bernie — 25 Feb 2009 @ 10:21 AM

  171. Further to my earlier post, I have now read some of the story Tyrone mentions, and judge it to be junk, containing logical inconsistencies and counterfactual statements aplenty.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Feb 2009 @ 11:03 AM

  172. > Kusano, JAMSTEC

    The Register is a humor magazine. This bit quoted there attributed to a Japanese climatologist seems utterly nuts; it’s attributed to a climatologist: “”[The IPCC’s] conclusion that from now on atmospheric temperatures are likely to show a continuous, monotonous increase, …”

    I’d bet they got pranked.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2009 @ 11:04 AM

  173. Bernie, try search term ‘isobars’ — that’s a weather map, showing contour lines with temperature ranges, that’s the basic idea, I’d expect done the same way Did you get to the page with the 5,000 site data files? Audubon links to it. I don’t know the specifics about generating those maps, but to make your own, try a few of these links:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2009 @ 11:11 AM

  174. Re # 169 Paul Gosling
    Your comment that “. . . the spin of the paper is that the observed trend in mortality is 100% climate driven . . .” leads me to wonder whether you’ve actually read van Mantgem et al.’s paper.

    Those authors’ conclusion is: “We suggest that regional warming may be the dominant contributor to the increases in tree mortality rates.” (Which you could have known from reading the abstract.)

    This is virtually indistinguishable from your “I do not deny climate change . . . appears to be a major driver of increased tree mortality in the Western USA.”

    “major driver” vs “dominant contributor” A distinction really worth all the words you’ve expended here?

    Comment by Rick Brown — 25 Feb 2009 @ 11:32 AM

  175. From what i can make out the ‘report’ (partially) translated by the Register is an email conversation by five Japanese scientists published in the JSER house journal. How much the Register translation truly reflects said conversation is unknown, but I wouldn’t place too much credence on it, and I don’t find the attention paid to it (or lack of) curious. Much as I don’t find the lack of media reporting on the comments threads here and at WUWT curious either.

    Comment by Chris S — 25 Feb 2009 @ 11:35 AM

  176. Hank, 173. I think you mean “Isotherms”.

    Iso: equal.

    Therm: temperature.

    Bar: pressure.

    Comment by Mark — 25 Feb 2009 @ 12:08 PM

  177. RE #36, I think evolution is not OT. I think perhaps John’s implication may have been that we are changing the climates around the world (as this post indicates), which will spur species to evolve & adapt, which is neither good nor bad, just different.

    The problem is that if the changes are too rapid — and our AGW is pretty much lickty-split in geological measures of time — then species won’t have time to evolve and adapt, they will just go extinct. More local studies as the one above are good for assessing these types of problems.

    Add in all our other environmental assaults on species (we really do need a holistic vision — see CUMULATIVE IMPACTS: DEATH KNELL FOR COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS at ), then doom looms large.

    I’m just hoping we can avert making too many species go extinct (were already in the 6th great extinction level period)…

    … and at the very very worst it would stop at something like the end-Permian GW, during which 95% of life died out (I asked a biologist, is that “95% of life” or “95% of species”? to which she replied, “at that level it pretty much the same.”)…

    … and not (please please please) go into a Venus sydrome, runaway as on Venus, in which we doom all of life on planet earth a billion years ahead of schedule(see ). At that point evolution pretty much comes to an end on Earth.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 25 Feb 2009 @ 12:57 PM

  178. On second thought re the rantings against scientific caution, this is sort of a good sign. It seems for most other environmental problems the debates have usually been between the scientists cautiously seeking to avoid false positives and the people worried about the problems and seeking to avoid false negatives. And that’s a good tension.

    However, on global warming it seems the debate has been almost exclusively between certain industries and their denialist lackies & paid officials, who refuse to admit AGW and its effects unless there is 99% to 101% confidence, and the scientists, who require 90 to 95% confidence.

    It has been a horrible horrible 20 years of this type of debate. And if the denialists and contrarians would just go away or shut up now (they’ve had their say, they’ve made their points ad nauseum), we could get on with the more productive debate between scientists and concerned laypersons/environmentalists, people who value life on planet earth.

    So my position is all things that can be in any way logically or theoretically linked to global warming are indeed caused by global warming (and us) until proven otherwise.

    Maybe we laypersons need our own hypothesis testing method — like Ho: GW is causing problems; Ha1: GW is not causing problems and Ha2: GW is not even real, with alpha at .01.

    We now live in a globally warming world; that’s our null hypothesis (for laypersons seeking to preserve life). And we need to act on that type of knowledge — that many bads are caused by GW — allowing the scientists to do their meticulous hard work of eventually proving what we already know.

    And if perchance scientists one day reach 99% confidence that there was no link between AGW and a particular effect, then at worst we would have become enery/resource efficient/conservative and bought into a lot of alternative energy for only 49 good reasons and not 50 good reasons.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 25 Feb 2009 @ 1:32 PM

  179. Ray, but how would one distinguish you scientists from other scientists, other than you defining other scientists away?

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Feb 2009 @ 1:48 PM

  180. Rod B., have you heard the phrase “by their works….” used when discussing how to label people? Recommended.
    “The scientists who published -this- paper …. the scientists who published -that- paper.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2009 @ 2:50 PM

  181. Mark, mapping isotherms and isobars — same software seems to be used for both by the hobbyists. No guarantee that’s what the gardening charts used. You’re right to caution against confusing data sets and labels.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2009 @ 3:04 PM

  182. Paul, 169:

    To keep from completely blowing a gasket on this topic and letting your ideas get some sort of life in the blogosphere (and this is my last comment on it):

    1. van Mantgem et. al., contrary to what you say and as one of the strengths of the paper, chose their plots and/or did their analysis, carefully, so as to minimize the following potentially confounding factors on tree mortality (and this is not even a full list):

    -the possibility that some +/- recent disturbance led to a regeneration pulse in the past (and hence increased mortality via self-thinning during subsequent stand development)
    -the possibility that fire reductions have led to the same
    -the possibility that increased edge effects have changed the microclimate, increasing drought and T stress
    -the possibility that trop. ozone is responsible
    -the possibility that small tree sample sizes (via demographic stochasticity) are responsible
    -the possibility that large tree death has increased smaller tree death via crushing during tree fall

    2. The observed mortality increases occurred in 87% of the plots, and were ubiquitous across geographic areas, species, diameter classes, and estimated historic fire return interval classes.

    3. There is no reason, based on knowledge of natural N levels and deposition rates in the rural west, to suppose that N additions are even detrimental, much less contributing to tree death, and even less that they are a major player in same.

    4. The aspect claim doesn’t hold water, as I’ve explained twice above. As a further argument to what was already stated, even in the absolute worst case scenario (e.g. all 76 plots located on one aspect class and thus an extremely biased topographic sample, and completely unreasonable), you still have a definite trend in mortality across a huge landscape.

    5. Re: the cited Guarin and Taylor article: right in the abstract is stated the KEY POINT: “Temporal patterns of tree death were similar on north- and south-facing slopes and among species, but the density of dead trees was higher on north than south slopes” It’s the TEMPORAL PATTERN in death rate that matters, NOT whether you have either more dead trees, or higher death rates, on particular aspects. Thus the Guarin and Taylor paper fully SUPPORTS the concept that drought stress is directly or indirectly killing trees, notwithstanding the fact that they specifically chose sites that had high levels of mortality, unlike van Mantgem et al.

    6. When you use the word “spin’ you imply some sort of twisting the story to make it fit a preconceived idea, which is a pretty bad thing to accuse a scientist of doing. As Rick Brown pointed out, what you say they concluded, and what the authors actually said, are two entirely different things. Based on this and other comments, it does not appear that you carefully read the paper. I know the first two authors of the paper, and they are both excellent scientists, one of whom has worked specifically on water balance issues in montane forests, and I can guarantee that they would not have overlooked anything obvious (and gotten it through peer review at Science).

    7. The qualified conclusions of van Mantgem et al re climatic influences are clearly supported by the cited regional climate analyses. That’s MY claim here, and I’m sticking with it.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 25 Feb 2009 @ 5:52 PM

  183. Lynn (178) says

    “…if …contrarians would just go away … we could get on with the …debate between scientists and concerned laypersons/environmentalists.”

    What debate?

    “…my position is all things that can be in any way …linked to global warming are indeed caused by global warming… ”

    How scientific of you!

    Actually I don’t really mind your ardor, though your dogmatism is a bit disconcerting. The difficult is in completely ignoring the impact of mitigation. I know you believe there will be no negative impacts. But nobody knows. Just a bunch of both learned and unlearned people making predictions on both sides. It might prove to be no problem; it might prove to be disastrous. Ignoring the possibility is just as irresponsible as wasting energy.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Feb 2009 @ 9:59 PM

  184. Hank, I’m looking for a short descriptive term that’s understood, accurate, and easy to type. “the-scientists-and-bloggers-who believe-in-and-support-AGW” just doesn’t quite make the grade. :-)

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Feb 2009 @ 10:05 PM

  185. Hank, I’m looking for a short descriptive term that’s understood, accurate, and easy to type. “the-scientists-and-bloggers-who believe-in-and-support-AGW” just doesn’t quite make the grade.


    Or as said above: scientist.

    “believe in and support” is your attempt to – as always, since you are incapable of learning – to equate belief in science with religious beliefs such as intelligent design “theory” (which boils down to “I deny science”)

    You’re really a time waster, you know? Pretending to be rational, open-minded to reality rather than fiction, but when pinned …

    Gosh, you’re ideological.

    Comment by dhogaza — 26 Feb 2009 @ 12:47 AM

  186. With respect to the evolution of new genera, consider just the Hawaiian honeycreepers, which in about 3 1/2 million years, from a single colonization event, evolved about 50 new species, 22 new genera, all in one entirely new (sub)family, the Drepanidinae.

    Comment by JoeB — 26 Feb 2009 @ 3:54 AM

  187. Rod, B 183, how about “Climatologists”?

    An MD who believed that only God could heal would not be deserving of the title “Dr”.

    Comment by Mark — 26 Feb 2009 @ 4:39 AM

  188. Jim
    Re 182.

    If I gave the impression that I was questioning the integrity of any of the authors of the van Mantgem paper then I apologise to them. My use of the word spin was perhaps unwise given its pejorative connotations; I should maybe have said the take home message of the paper was….

    Otherwise we will just have to agree to differ on this one.

    Comment by Paul Gosling — 26 Feb 2009 @ 4:41 AM

  189. Re Kusano et al.: Sumimasen ga, kore-tachi wa bakayaro des’.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Feb 2009 @ 5:57 AM

  190. Rod B. #183. A term exists. Given the fact that this is the side that embraces the evidence, how about “The Reality-Based Community”?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Feb 2009 @ 8:13 AM

  191. Rod: for starters, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the people you seem to be trying to describe “support” AGW.

    Secondly, I’m not sure a dedicated term is necessary to categorize the group. We have flat-earthers, but what do you call non-flat-earthers? We have young-earth creationists, but what do you call people who believe in the standard cosmological timeline? It’s typically the dissenters from the mainstream view who have the dedicated term, right?

    Comment by kevin — 26 Feb 2009 @ 9:26 AM

  192. Actually I was being serious in asking for a replacement term for “protagonist”, which, as it was pointed out, is not really an accurate descriptive for “you guys”; it implies more political activism with an agenda and proselytizing than is appropriate – also the problem with “supporter” as Kevin points out. (Though that was kinda tongue-in-cheek response to Hank.)

    But, I’m evidently not going to get any helpful suggestions. “scientists”, “climatologists”, “the good guys”, the smart ones”, “realists”, “saviors of humanity”, etc. are probably self-satisfying but just not discriminating enough sans an agenda. Maybe, if I can remember it, I’ll just go with “you guys”, opposed to, you know, “us guys”! Since you know who you are, it might work in RC.

    “Believer” is also not discriminating enough, though I’m not sure why it upset dhogaza so. You don’t believe AGW??

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Feb 2009 @ 4:31 PM

  193. Just had this wild-ass idea that maybe it might be more profitable and germane to discuss, say for example, attribution issues, temperature dependence of ecosystems, phenological shifts, or carbon sink issues, than on what to call people. Silly me.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 26 Feb 2009 @ 5:52 PM

  194. RodB, why is “scientist” not right?

    Why is “realist” not right?

    You drop two for no stated reason.


    A scientist has a theory that is testable. Measurements are made to see if there is the expected correlation between variation of the principal elements and the expected result from the theory.

    If there is correlation, this is accepted on a temporary basis whilst there are few others who have managed to repeat the experiment, come up with their own and checked his results.

    This is not “science by consensus” but science by repeatability.

    If your theory and results are not repeatable independently, your theory is provisionally rejected until you have found a reason for the discrepancy or disagreements and refined replication of the experiment by other scientists has confirmed that there is now agreement between the theory of how reality works and how reality works.

    This seems to be what AGW scientists are doing.

    Denialists seem to be saying (like Gerhard I found out earlier) by denying that the other scientists are doing it right. Just denying that the results are valid.

    This is not science.

    Or realists. These are people who see what is going on and see that there is an explanation that is sufficient to explain what is going on. If they do not know enough to verify independently, they accept provisionally this explanation, having no ability to create a counter proposal. If they do know enough to verify, they check to see if the explanation is sound. They do not, like denialists, say “well, it could be something else. I don’t know what, but you can’t rule it out until you’ve looked, and you haven’t looked, so you can’t say it isn’t something else”.

    That is not taking a realistic stance.

    And do you believe that 2+4=6?

    Do you believe that there IS a squishy bit inside your skull that does the thinking?

    But these are articles of faith, are they not. You’ve never seen the inside of your skull. You have never proven 2+4=6 yourself. You just took it on faith.

    And that is why “believer” is a bad one to use. It then opens up the realm of religious experience analogies being used.

    You DO take 2+4=6 on faith.

    But this doesn’t mean 2+4=5 is merely another possibility of equal belief measured validity.

    Comment by Mark — 26 Feb 2009 @ 5:54 PM

  195. Rod, I’ve been working on an airtight, one-paragraph summary of global warming. I’m curious to know what you think of it:

    Fundamentally, climate science is based on well-understood principles of thermodynamics. Before humans burned the sequestered carbon (fossil fuels) and released CO2, Earth was in radiative near-equilibrium with space. Humans introduced a sudden, 500-gigaton excursion in the global carbon budget. Because CO2 is a “heat-trapping gas,” Earth is now in disequilibrium with space. To return to equilibrium, the atmosphere must warm.

    The rest is details. Interesting details, to be sure, but the basic thermodynamics have been understood since Svante Arrhenius published in 1896.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 26 Feb 2009 @ 9:29 PM

  196. Mark, yes I did explain why “scientist”, e.g. is not sufficient. For the same reason “men and women” is not. But I’m just looking for a simple moniker. I’m not trying to redo the philosophy of science!

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Feb 2009 @ 10:31 PM

  197. Jim G. (195), In my opinion, 1. There is too much qualified agendized subjectivity — sounds more preachy than instructive. But that’s a style not a substance comment. 2. The rest and the devil is in the details. Other than that, it’s pretty descriptive for a paragraph.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Feb 2009 @ 10:49 PM

  198. There is too much qualified agendized subjectivity — sounds more preachy than instructive.

    He’s just reciting history, geez. Where’s the subjectivity? Be specific.

    Is this subjective: climate science is based on well-understood principles of thermodynamics.

    Is this subjective: Before humans burned fossil fuels, Earth was in radiative near-equilibrium.

    Is this subjective: Humans introduced a sudden (in geological timescales) 500-gigaton excursion in the global carbon budget.

    Is this subjective: (in essence) this means the atmosphere must warm.

    Tell us now, denialist (not skeptic), where is the subjectivity.

    Comment by dhogaza — 27 Feb 2009 @ 12:19 AM

  199. RodB, THIS is an explanation????

    ‘“scientists”, “climatologists”, “the good guys”, the smart ones”, “realists”, “saviors of humanity”, etc. are probably self-satisfying but just not discriminating enough’

    It is not.

    Look at the definition of scientist. I’ve given an appropriate analogue to the formal one above.

    Now you say this is no good because it isn’t discriminating enough?

    a) It covers the AGW scientists
    b) It doesn’t cover the anti-AGW scientists

    How much more discriminating does it have to be?

    If you’re talking about man vs woman, then saying one person is “male” and the other “female” is 100% sufficient to discriminate between them.

    But I guess you’re looking for something nasty but not so nasty it is obviously intended for that.

    Then no, you won’t get any help.

    From anyone.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Feb 2009 @ 3:54 AM

  200. Rod 197, so you object to the simple explanation because “There is too much qualified agendized subjectivity”

    Where is the subjectivity? Only in the last paragraph and there is no agenda there.

    “The basics of death is that all your bodily functions stop. There are more details on that, but they are interesting, if unimportant to the basic idea of death.”

    Again you don’t want simple. You want complex so there’s possibility to argue “it’s not happening”.

    So point out where in the physics you have that the simple explanation that Jim gave doesn’t hold?

    Is 500Gt wrong in any significant manner?

    Is CO2 trapping heat wrong in any significant manner?

    Is the earth being in equilibrium before a fast change in the atmospheric content wrong in any significant manner?

    Do you have anything to counter any of these that isn’t “well, yes, but the details are important”? Because “humans have two arms and two legs” is pretty good as far as factual truth is concerned. However, there are some quadriplegics so the detail shows something different.

    Does it mean that you don’t have two arms and two legs, Rod?

    Comment by Mark — 27 Feb 2009 @ 4:03 AM

  201. Jim,

    I thought your summary was a good one. I would quibble with the idea of CO2 “trapping heat,” since what’s actually happening is that the CO2 absorbs the heat and reradiates it. But for two paragraphs, I think your summary is about as concise as you can get and still convey the idea more-or-less accurately.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:51 AM

  202. BPL: 201

    But that is, again, a detail.

    What is the difference between something trapping heat and absorbtion/redirection? Both impede energy transfer.

    The distinction is rather like saying “But the electrons actually travel in the OPPOSITE direction”. Doesn’t stop the lights coming on, does it.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Feb 2009 @ 9:07 AM

  203. Thank you for the feedback, everybody. I put quotes around “heat-trapping” to hint that it’s a simplification.

    I was inspired by Barton’s “global warming in five bullet points,” from a recent RC post:

    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
    2. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958).
    3. The new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels (Suess 1955).
    4. Temperature is rising (NASA GISS, Hadley CRU, UAH, RSS, etc.).
    5. The increase in temperature correlates with the increase in CO2 (76% for temp. anomaly and ln CO2 for 1880-2007).

    And, of course, Spencer Weart’s writings.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 27 Feb 2009 @ 10:11 AM

  204. Jim Bouldin
    Great post thanks for writing it. If I’m getting the big idea right it’s that AGW is likely altering the snowpack. Because the trees are dependent on the snowpack they are being effected. Considering the importance of the trees to these forest ecosystems AGW is going to have a cascade effect.

    re 193:
    Has any work been done that connects AGW to other observed ecosystem changes and not just predicted changes? I am vaguely familiar with some work done in the North and Baltic Seas, but is there more published?

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 27 Feb 2009 @ 12:42 PM

  205. Rod B Says (26 February 2009 at 4:31 PM)

    ““Believer” is also not discriminating enough, though I’m not sure why it upset dhogaza so. You don’t believe AGW??”

    No, I don’t believe AGW, any more than I believe say civil engineering. Instead of doing my own stress calculations on that bridge I’m going to drive across, I may make some (perhaps unwarranted) assumptions about the competence & honesty of the civil engineers who designed it, but if I really wanted to spend the time & energy, I could repeat & check each step of the design myself. There’s no point at which I’d just have to believe.

    Same with AGW: every step of the chain of reasoning is math, science, and computer programming that I could repeat myself. There’s no place at which, like the old cartoon, I have to write “then a miracle happens”.

    Comment by James — 27 Feb 2009 @ 1:53 PM

  206. Mark, BPL, it’s one of the toughest areas (as Spencer Weart says, and a pointer to his section might be helpful in any summary).
    Anything short of the quantum physics is oversimplification. Task is not to oversimplify so grossly that people don’t get the picture.

    Can’t do that myself. Let me try to say why I think it matters:

    Greenhouse gases can capture energy (infrared photons).
    All molecules can exchange energy by colliding.
    A greenhouse gas can absorbs an infrared photon — its total energy goes up.
    The total energy gets exchanged – averages out – by collisions with nitrogen and oxygen, and sometimes by emitting an infrared photon.

    It’s not the same chunk of energy. It’s a way of catching and emitting chunks, but those are little, and separate, events.

    Total energy coming in from the sun is about constant.
    Adding more CO2 means that there are more of these molecules that can catch-and-release infrared photons in the atmosphere
    Eventually the energy goes out at top of atmosphere.

    Word picture attempt, third grade level, suitable for staging maybe by a modern dance group or the Portland Jugglers Convention:

    Say you have a field with a million people who are kind of limited in skill — they can hand tennis balls to the people next to them, but only at random. If they have nobody next to them, they drop the tennis ball (and it rolls off the edge of the field).

    You’re steadily putting in tennis balls from one end of the field, dropping them in so the people can’t toss them back out to you.
    (high energy photons, lots of ultraviolet energy, mostly hitting the ground where they warm the ground up)

    The only way they can get out is to move to the other end of the field. (be re-emitted as lower energy infrared photons)

    So you hand them in at one end and the people hand them around to the others at random. Eventually everyone’s busy, and as many tennis balls are being dropped off the far end of the field as are being added (radiative equilibrium)

    Now, there are also a few competent jugglers in the population.

    Each of them — besides handing tennis balls off at random to whoever’s nearby — can also each keep a dozen tennis balls in the air, juggling. Every now and then they get excited enough or someone elbows them and they “drop” one — which goes zinging off in a random direction. (that’s part of the radiative equilibrium)

    Usually an average guy catches what the juggler drops, and so just hands it off to a neighbor.

    Rarely another juggler catches that and adds it to the eleven or twelve she’s juggling. Sometimes that gets her excited enough that she drops one that goes zinging off …

    Now we double the number of competent jugglers!

    What happens? More of your tennis balls are there in the group being juggled instead of just handed off at random.

    Eventually, all those tennis balls do get to the far end of the field at random and get dropped out of the game. (a new radiative equilibrium is established)

    But with more jugglers, more of the tennis balls are now being “parked” among the people on the field for a while (a few hundred years) and each of the ordinary people out there is getting poked and bonked and elbowed a little bit more often by the jugglers.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Feb 2009 @ 2:28 PM

  207. Joseph O’Sullivan asks for observations of anything that
    > connects AGW to other observed ecosystem changes

    Here is a good recent place to start. You’ll have to do some reading:

    “… recent detailed multidisciplinary studies, which have pored over numerous long-term datasets (most compiled for reasons unconnected to climate change monitoring), have forced a re-appraisal of the magnitude and pace of the challenge that global warming represents ….

    One of the clearest ‘attribution fingerprints’ of global warming on biological systems is the advance of reproductive events ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Feb 2009 @ 2:31 PM

  208. Hank, 206 do you think you are saying something new here???

    How long does it take a photon produced at the Sun’s core to get out? And why?


    Having done physics with ASTROPHYSICS, do you reckon this is news to me?

    Now, please, tell me how the length of the hypotenuse can be calculated by considering the square root of the sum of the squares of the opposite sides. I await your education of me.

    After that you can tell me that you can increase profit by reducing expenses whilst keeping the product revenue the same.

    My glasses to protect me from the blinding flash of the obvious is in place and I’m ready…

    (PS theoretically any photon can be absorbed: the cross section of the target molecule may be so tiny it is unlikely to happen in light years of earth atmosphere, but it isn’t zero).

    Comment by Mark — 27 Feb 2009 @ 3:08 PM

  209. dhogaza, my opinion, which Jum asked for, was that some of his adjectives were a bit too charged, which, as I said, is a style comment. In substance his paragraph was pretty good, which I also said. I did not object to it as Mark claimed. Lighten up.

    Mark, like I said you wanting to be called “the good guys” is self-satisfying and also nice ego building self-serving but does nothing for clarity of communications. Evidently you can’t come up with a description unless it either builds your pedastal or demonizes those that don’t completely subscribe to your dogma.

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Feb 2009 @ 3:44 PM

  210. Thanks Joseph (204). You’ve got it right. Check out the link provided by Mauri in comment #1, for the observational evidence in the Pacific Northwest. The evidence that the regional snowpack trends are due, at least in part, to AGW, comes from the 3 regional climate studies cited. The importance of snowpack will vary geographically, being highest in those areas with little to no summer rain (i.e. California). In some locations that receive more summer rain, snowpack declines might be expected to have a lesser impact, but any growing season T increases there would still be important. The long term effects are difficult to impossible to predict because there are so many variables, but if you combine van Mantgem et al’s results with the increases in catastrophic mortality (crown fire, insect attacks), now being documented (e.g. Westerling et al 2006 for fire) it doesn’t look good. It’s actually this latter type that concerns a lot of us more. And as van Mantgem et al state, the increased background mortality may portend subsequent catastrophic mortality increases, (and which they have evidence for in the Interior West–some of the study plots experienced heavy mortality after the last date of sampling, which won’t show up in the data until the plots are sampled again).

    Yes, there’s quite a bit of work being done, but it still tends to be at fairly large scales (continental, hemispheric; e.g. Rosenzwieg et al, 2008) because that’s where you get the strongest signal. There’s quite a lot of documented phenological change data at all scales; the trick is attributing the climate changes at smaller scales to global AGW, which necessarily requires GCMs, which have the ability to model across scales (down to the limit of their spatial resolution). As the magnitude of the climate effects increases, and GCMs’ resolutions and physics continue to improve, the power to quantify likelihoods of cause at those smaller scales will continue to grow. That’s one reason good climate models are so vital.

    I don’t honestly know of any fairly small scale studies definitively attributing ecological effects to AGW, (but I’m looking!). I think a number of changes in the western USA could now be so, including the phenological shifts brought up by Aaron Lewishowever, given the findings of the 3 climate studies mentioned in this post.

    Rosenzweig et al. 2008. Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change. Nature 453:353-

    Westerling et al. 2006. Warming and earlier spring increase western US forest wildfire activity. Science 313:940-

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 27 Feb 2009 @ 4:32 PM

  211. RRE #183 (ref #178) &

    “…my position is all things that can be in any way …linked to global warming are indeed caused by global warming… ”

    How scientific of you!

    That’s just the point. I am not a scientist. I’m a person concerned about life on planet earth & in avoiding the false negative.

    And, of course, we should solve problems with forsight & caution so as to avoid negative consequences of the solutions. However, when we have a problem of such magnitude as climate change and possible runaway warming, then it’s pretty hard to think of negative consequences that can match that. Still we should be smart about solving this problem, and BAU is pretty stupid.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:32 PM

  212. re: 204 Joseph

    IPCC AR4 WG II, Chapter 1 (pp.79-131) has a mass of material, and Figure SPM.1, page 10 of the SPM, has a quick summary, and the first part of the TS has a longer summary.

    My favorites, because they are simply shown as a series of boundaries on maps, and because they reflect higher minimum winter temperatures (a GHG signature) are:

    a) The spread Northward of various beetles, now chewing up British Columbia. See B.C. temperature trends, and p.10 of temperature details in B.C.

    See B.C. map sequence to flip through, showing beetles and their FAQ.

    [yes, there are plenty of land-use issues, but the beetles are thriving because it hasn’t quite been getting cold enough in the Fall / Winter to suppress them.]

    b) The Northward march of kudzu, which U of Toronto researchers think will survive in southern Canada within ~another decade.

    Some things move North because humans want them there (grapes around Lake Okanagan, B.C., a little South of Kamloops on the earlier map, sugar maples in Eastern Canada), but bark beetles and kudzu aren’t in that category.

    Comment by John Mashey — 28 Feb 2009 @ 12:22 AM

  213. Er. Mark, I wasn’t writing to you at all.

    I posted a serious attempt to find words that might explain to a youngster how adding CO2 slows down the process by which heat leaves the planet.

    It’s not about you.

    Remember the audience, sir. Do your best to explain the science to people reading, and hope for correction by the real scientists here.
    That’s what any of us amateurs can do, try to be useful in finding the right words.

    We’re not the deciders.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2009 @ 1:30 AM

  214. For Jim Bouldin — you wrote a few responses back:
    > I don’t honestly know of any fairly small scale studies
    > definitively attributing ecological effects to AGW,
    > (but I’m looking!).

    Would it be fair to say that the “A” in AGW is responsible for the very rapid rate of change, and so you’d be looking for ecological effects related to the rate of change (either of the extremes or mean)?
    I’m thinking of Barry Brooks’s image here:

    Populations that we know have simply changed their location over many generations, in the past — say from the pollen layers in lakes changing as the ice age comes and goes — are now experiencing much faster changes.
    ReCaptcha: “the racing”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2009 @ 1:42 AM

  215. PS, while the Nature articles Jim Bouldin cited are paywalled, the Supplementary Info for those is usually available, e.g.
    Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change, by Rosenzweig et al.

    32 pages of good supplemental information, tabulating other studies.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2009 @ 1:49 AM

  216. RuDb, #209, “scientist” and “the good guys” have one letter in common.

    They aren’t the same.

    You see them as the same because you want something perjorative.

    Comment by Mark — 28 Feb 2009 @ 5:08 AM

  217. Mark, Hank’s 206 was manifestly not intended for those who already have a good intuitive picture of what happens. . . which would obviously include you.

    I thought it was an excellent illustrative analogy, even if, as you point out, it could apply to other phenomena.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Feb 2009 @ 8:50 AM

  218. Hank @ 214:

    Great observation Hank. I think you could conceive of the problem, and analyze it, either as a rate-of-change issue, or as a total-magnitude-of-change, issue. (A higher rate of change gives you a given total magnitude of change in a shorter period of time of course, so you need a shorter time series of data to get the same signal). But you do have to distinguish between the climatic and ecological effects in the analysis. For the climatic effects, the climate models (and empirical data in many places) are often able to detect an anomalously high rate of change. For ecological data, the models may not be as good (depending on the process in question) and the empirical data are almost never as long, which presents problems in attributing any observed ecological changes to climatic causes. The only way around that problem is to explore–as well as possible–the likelihood that some other (non-climatic) factors might be responsible for the effects observed, and that climatic patterns are NOT consistent with the ecological effects, which is EXACTLY what van Mangtgem et al did, and why I am so high on the study.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:16 AM

  219. Hank @ 215:

    I know many people do not have subscriptions to these journals, are not near a research library, and their local library generally carries Science at the most, sometimes not even that. What to do?

    Answer: ALWAYS WRITE TO THE AUTHORS AND REQUEST AN ELECTRONIC REPRINT for any article of interest. There is always an author given, with email address, for reprint requests and general correspondence. This is perfectly legal in most cases. DON’T BE BASHFUL. Most scientists are more than happy to quickly send out their works. Find the secondary authors’ web pages/email addresses and request the same of them if need be.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:27 AM

  220. Rod B., about the least pejorative title I can come up with is “scientific consensus backers”.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:59 AM

  221. > one letter in common
    Oh, no, no, I won’t ask which one. Nope. Not going there.

    How about something on topic? I came across this following up some forest/lumber links:
    Carbon Balance and Management 2006, 1:4doi:10.1186/1750-0680-1-4
    Commentary–A psychological effect of having a potentially viable sequestration strategy

    “… The slow leakage that occurs centuries into the future can give a false sense of security that the carbon and climate problem is under control. If this were to cause policy makers to become less vigilant about reducing the total emissions of anthropogenic carbon, our descendants would be penalized with having much higher carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere when leakage begins. This “carelessness feedback” would apply to other forms of sequestration that are not permanent. To avoid falling into this trap requires generations of policy makers to be aware of the feedback and committed to intergenerational equity….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2009 @ 12:42 PM

  222. Hank, in 213 you say you weren’t writing to me. Please explain what the first word in 206 means (this being the number of the post that you weren’t writing for my “benefit”)

    Comment by Mark — 28 Feb 2009 @ 2:23 PM

  223. I recently ran across Mantgem’s paper while researching an article on the effect climate change will have on habitat types in Wyoming. As many of you may know, warm, dry conditions over the last fifteen years or so have led to outbreaks of several tree-eating insects, particularly the mountain pine beetle, which has a taste for limber, lodgepole, and whitebark pines. The outbreak is unprecedented in the last 400 years and will eliminate most of these trees in size classes above about 5 inches in diameter. Some foresters have predicted that this die-off will lead to a more diverse timber association both in terms of tree size and species. Subalpine fir is expected to be one of the key players in this replacement of old-growth lodgepole forest.

    Now comes Mantgem et al to tell us that subalpine fir is under significant long-term drought stress. Another possible replacement for lodgepole is quaking aspen, except that aspen acreages have declined by more than 30 percent in Colorado over the last decade because of a malady the sylviculturists are calling “sudden aspen decline” because they aren’t sure what’s causing it. Best speculation is that warmer, drier growing conditions are at least partly to blame.

    The picture that emerges for me is that the entire western montane forest is under increasing stress. Forest Service descriptions of “the new forest” seem wildly optimistic. Much more likely that we will see a drastic reduction in forested acreage, followed by an upward migration of mountain and desert shrub communities, followed by an invasion of cheatgrass, which will change the natural fire regime and perpetuate itself.

    The combination will almost certainly mean a drastic decline in fixed carbon, along with a crash in biodiversity. The first phases of this trend are clearly visible on nearly any forested slope in the central Rockies– millions of acres of “ghost forest,” the bleached trunks of millions of dead trees.

    That’s a pretty major ecological impact but far from the only one. Take a look at the technical literature on whitebark pine and its relationship with grizzlies. Also look at the literature on pika distribution over the last century. Also take a look at the new paper on amphibian populations in Yellowstone Park by McMenamin et al.

    Comment by Chris Madson — 28 Feb 2009 @ 2:30 PM

  224. Hank wrote in 213:

    Er. Mark, I wasn’t writing to you at all.

    In 222 Mark responds:

    Hank, in 213you say you weren’t writing to me. Please explain what the first word in 206 means (this being the number of the post that you weren’t writing for my “benefit”)

    I think you got him there, Mark.

    He actually was writing to you — but not to explain the science, thinking that you didn’t know any of it on the elementary level that he was explaining it. Looking at what he said just afterwards 213:

    I posted a serious attempt to find words that might explain to a youngster how adding CO2 slows down the process by which heat leaves the planet…. Remember the audience, sir. Do your best to explain the science to people reading, and hope for correction by the real scientists here. That’s what any of us amateurs can do, try to be useful in finding the right words.

    In essence he was trying to explain to you and Barton Paul Levenson (who is extremely knowledgeable in climatology) how to explain the greenhouse effect to others — the good majority of those who visit this blog. He knows that you and Barton understand the greenhouse effect and the physics behind it quite possibly a great deal better than he or I, but given the nature of this forum, how we present it may be just as important as what we present.

    Incidentally, this is why it may be valuable to argue with someone who is being dishonest — someone who is always trying to argue that the IPCC could be overestimating the consequences of climate change but ignoring the possibility that the IPCC may be underestimating the consequences of climate change, or someone else who is simply and obviously trying to confuse people on whether or not carbon dioxide can be a greenhouse gas based on a clearly fallacious argument despite having graduated from Cavendish Laboratories where he studied the infrared absorption properties of carbon dioxide in great detail — and yet oftentimes plays as if he has no expertise whatsoever.

    The individual that you are “responding to” may already understand everything that you are explaining, but for someone else who has just wandered in or may not even post, what you say may make a real difference.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 28 Feb 2009 @ 3:51 PM

  225. Yeah and I’m a bit grumpy this week too, Tim (I’d probably still bite someone’s head off, but this time I probably was over eager in posting a few times. After enough pecks at you, you get sensitive to pecking.

    The issue I have with what Hank was saying is that, as far as the *result* is concerned, “trapping” is fine.

    Radio operators use it for signals trapped under the “whatever they call it” layer (can’t remember it, I know I know it but recall is far worse than storage).

    It’s a lie-to-children sort of misrepresentation. True enough to give you an idea of what this is doing.

    The more complete and complex lie-to-student that Hank gave is OK for people who did some Physics related course in university. But for those, the current introductory explanation available all over the web and in the IPCC summary report is already there.

    Jim I think got a good one that is complete at the education of people who stopped at their O-levels some years ago or haven’t yet finished the GCSEs.

    I mean, you don’t leave the oven door open because you let the heat out. But that implies that the heat is trapped in there. But the oven is warmer, so that’s obviously not *true* true.

    But it’s good enough.

    As was Jim’s short version.

    Comment by Mark — 28 Feb 2009 @ 4:36 PM

  226. PS a hint for Hank, I tend to, if I want to clarify or extend someone’s post, say “further to X’s post…”.

    If it doesn’t fit your style of prose, there are plenty of other ways to get the same contextual handle in there. Just get it in there early.

    Comment by Mark — 28 Feb 2009 @ 4:38 PM

  227. Mark wrote in 225:

    Yeah and I’m a bit grumpy this week too, Tim (I’d probably still bite someone’s head off, but this time I probably was over eager in posting a few times. After enough pecks at you, you get sensitive to pecking.


    My apologies for having contributed to that. I am having a heck of a week as well — and a large part of it actually has very little to do with Real Climate — issues that will be left dangling until Monday if not later, apparently.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 28 Feb 2009 @ 5:34 PM

  228. #83

    I do not accept Tamino’s analysis.

    You averaged out the temps before comparison.

    The problem is the extreme highs and lows. Prior to the 1970’s, our winters gave us 30 below zero once in ten years. We hit 25 below most years (70 percent is the rough figure from the data). What Tamino loses in his analysis is that we have no longer hit 30 below. We no longer hit 25 below. We no longer hit 20 below. Nor 10 below. Our coldest winter over the last ten years barely reached 10 below.


    The situation is the same for summer. Prior to the 1970’s, we rarely exceeded 100 degrees (once in ten years). Today we have exceeded 110. If I recall correctly, we have hit broke records in the last ten years at 112 and 114. This is approximately a 15 degree change.

    I thank Tamino for his analysis, but you missed my point entirely. You avoided the minimim winter and maximum summer temperatures. Those temps are available at NOAA. Averaging the temps before graphin or analyzing, and you lose this most critical component of the data. And so I cannot accept your analysis. It the extremes we will have to live with. 114F in Ellensburg is getting down rigbht unbareable for those of us who have lived in eastern washington since the 50’s. The data clearly suggests an upward trend. So are we going to see another 15 degrees in the next 10 or 20 years? If so, that would be 130 in Ellensburg. No more crops. And a few more degress and this region will not be habitable.

    That is the cold hard facts.

    Graph the single maximum and minimum annual extremes for the winter months and summer months over the last 50 years. Your graphs will show a far more pronounced warming. It is those extremes we will have to live with.

    I will say no more here. I have had my say. God forbid what is coming.


    Comment by Ken Boettger — 1 Mar 2009 @ 12:21 PM

  229. Did anyone figure out where Ken Boettger’s numbers come from? He says he’s using “if I recall correctly” and I haven’t been able to locate a better source.

    I’m assuming when he writes “today we have exceeded 110” he’s referring to, well, I’m not sure. Certainly not March 1st 2009.

    I found this — not an official weather station record:

    Ellensburg, WA Weather Facts
    * The highest recorded temperature was 110°F in 1928.
    * The lowest recorded temperature was -31°F in 1919.

    That’s from

    Anyone got a link to the weather station record, to check that?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Mar 2009 @ 1:29 PM

  230. Jim,
    > … quotes around “heat-trapping” to hint that it’s a simplification.

    Good simple fix.

    > “lie-to-children” or “lie-to-student”

    Yeah; tagging which audience the text is meant for and hinting, or being explicit about, how much poetry is involved, always helps.

    “Physics for Poets: Why is the sky blue and why does the Earth go round and round?” (paraphrasing from my 1960s college catalog).

    That ‘framing’ avoids a lot of argument over wording.

    Confucian scholar: “What is necessary is to rectify names.”
    Engineer: “So, does this mean you’ll finally stop equivocating?”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Mar 2009 @ 4:36 PM

  231. A long study on butterflies and some implications re climate change:

    “Most wild species are expected to colonise northwards as the climate warms, but how are they going to get there when so many landscapes are covered in wheat fields and other crops? A study published Wednesday (25 February 2009) shows it is possible to predict how fast a population will spread and reveals the importance of habitat conservation in helping threatened species survive environmental change

    Published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research tracks the recovery of a rare British butterfly over 18 years and offers hope for the preservation of other species”


    Co-author Professor Chris Thomas, of the University of York, added: ‘Many species will need to move their distributions to survive climate change. Such species may only be able to expand their distributions in landscapes where there is sufficient habitat to do so. We need to take action now to identify and conserve these key landscapes.’

    It reminds me of the game of musical chairs, when they take away a chair when the music stops and the one who doesn’t get to a chair loses out. Only now, this seems to be playing out on a global scale (read niche for chair) with dramatic consequences for zillions of species whose niches disappear, let alone the potential ecological connections that the human race relies on between many of the species for stable food supplies.

    How will the human race deal with the intermediary phase of proliferation of fungi, bacteria and pathogens as the old niche orders break down?

    Comment by xyz — 2 Mar 2009 @ 5:54 AM


    PALAIOS; March 2009; v. 24; no. 3; p. 192-198; DOI: 10.2110/palo.2007-p07-077r
    © 2009 SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Mar 2009 @ 10:22 PM

  233. Nice illustration of the issue, Hank. Makes me wonder about the algae record of say Lake Tahoe? I have observed two opposite reactions of speices to warmer weather and reduced snowpack in the North Cascades, WA. While observing the glaciers we make an annual count of mountain goats observed. Because we go to the same glaciers at the same time every year, it has some validity. The mountains goats have generally appreciated the reduced snowpack of 2003-2006, allowing the population of the main group we watch to rise from 20 to 80 members. .
    On the other side glacier ice worms populations have not appreciated the loss of either snowpack or glacier area.

    Comment by mauri pelto — 7 Mar 2009 @ 8:09 AM

  234. Wow. (lose the trailing period for the mountain goat page link to work)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Mar 2009 @ 11:42 AM

  235. Global warming is predicted to reduce to mixing of Lake Tahoe until it becomes a permanently stratified lake (Tahoe has warmed 5 degrees in the past decade). The loss of clarity has slowed in recent years, but the warmer temperatures may well cause increased algae growth in coming years.

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 7 Mar 2009 @ 5:07 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Mar 2009 @ 12:50 PM

  237. Glacier worms! Who’d a thunk? That was hands down one of the coolest things I’ve read lately.

    Mauri includes among his work gear ice axe and crampons. Where’d the rest of us go wrong?

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 9 Mar 2009 @ 1:38 PM

  238. re #210 Jim Bouldin
    I found and read the two papers online. They are very informative.
    Rosenzweig et al. 2008 is here
    Westerling et al. 2006 is here

    An example of the work in marine environments is here
    “The deepening of North Sea bottom-dwelling fishes in response to climate change is the marine analogue of the upward movement of terrestrial species to higher altitudes. The assemblage-level depth responses, and both latitudinal responses, covary with temperature and environmental variability in a manner diagnostic of a climate change impact”

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 9 Mar 2009 @ 2:43 PM

  239. The bottom line is that we are in real trouble with global warming , it’s here and will only get worse.
    We need new ideas and breakthough science. I have been following 2 new ideas that i believe have merit. One is about research in the UK, they are trying to create the energy found in stars here on earth. I also have been hearing about some interesting developments in Cold Fusion. A new process called SuperWave Fusion seems to be producing excess heat. I like to know what others think, is this something or just wishful thinking on my part. check their website:

    Comment by saveearth64 — 10 Mar 2009 @ 10:04 AM

  240. saveearth64 #239: It’s horse puckey. The same old cold-fusion crap recycled.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Mar 2009 @ 11:08 AM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Mar 2009 @ 5:22 PM

  242. At this time, approximately 30% of the CO2 currently generated by burning fossil fuels ends up in the oceans, which mitigates global warming, but has a more sinister impact of acidifying our oceans…lastest reports (e.g. see the Monaco declaration) suggests major impacts on certain marine life environments are likely. Unfortunatety much of this work is still in its infancy.

    We may end up concluding that this OA (ocean acidification) is the single biggest issue we face with climate change. How about a summary of lastest OA work here on Real Climate?

    Comment by Peter Miles — 18 Mar 2009 @ 10:11 AM

  243. An example of a ‘back garden’ survey – one many of us could do had we the time & inclination…


    “Changes in phenology of hoverflies in a central England garden” Graham-Taylor, Stubbs & Brooke (2009) Insect Conservation & Diversity 2; p 29-35

    Comment by Chris S — 18 Mar 2009 @ 11:14 AM

  244. Show of hands for keeping the ppm below, say, 560 ppm….

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L05606, doi:10.1029/2008GL036282, 2009

    Coral reefs may start dissolving when atmospheric CO2 doubles

    Jacob Silverman

    Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
    Jerusalem, Israel

    Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution,
    Stanford, California, USA

    Boaz Lazar

    Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
    Jerusalem, Israel

    Long Cao and Ken Caldeira

    Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution,
    Stanford, California, USA

    Jonathan Erez

    Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
    Jerusalem, Israel


    [1] Calcification rates in stony corals are expected to decline significantly in the near future due to ocean acidification. In this study we provide a global estimate of the decline in calcification of coral reefs as a result of increase in sea surface temperature and partial pressure of CO2. This estimate, unlike previously reported estimates, is based on an empirical rate law developed from field observations for gross community calcification as a function of aragonite degree of saturation (Ωarag), sea surface temperature and live coral cover. Calcification rates were calculated for more than 9,000 reef locations using model values of Ωarag and sea surface temperature at different levels of atmospheric CO2. The maps we produced show that by the time atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 will reach 560 ppm all coral reefs will cease to grow and start to dissolve.

    Show of hands for keeping the ppm below 560 ppm….

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 18 Mar 2009 @ 12:31 PM

  245. Wasn’t CO2 @ 1400ppm the limit at which the Appollo 13 guys were going to die?

    Now, what is the toxic limit of, say, radium, compared to the maximum allowed limit of radium by safety laws? Is the difference more than 4x? Probably.

    Comment by Mark — 18 Mar 2009 @ 1:31 PM

  246. CO2 can be looked up quite easily.
    Apollo didn’t use a standard air mix, so you can’t simply state a ppm figure without more information.

    “… The cabin pressure was allowed to equilibrate at 5 psia as altitude was reached. The atmosphere was enriched with oxygen until the breathing gas approached 100 percent oxygen. Oxygen was used in flight to furnish breathing gas as well as to make up for spacecraft leakage, resulting in an oxygen-rich atmosphere.”

    > radium
    Heavy metal toxicity and radiation damage differ.
    There’s no simple answer.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2009 @ 2:15 PM

  247. What say we veer back onto the topic? Chris S posted a wonderful link above to a full text article worth reading.

    Here’s the abstract, to encourage folks to look into it:

    “Changes in phenology of hoverflies in a central England garden” Graham-Taylor, Stubbs & Brooke (2009) Insect Conservation & Diversity 2; p 29-35

    Abstract. 1. Hoverfly data, obtained from 20 species during 1991–2007 from a single garden in Peterborough, England, were analysed to test for temporal trends in timing of first and last appearance, flight-period length and maximum number.
    2. During this period of climate warming, first appearance in spring has become significantly earlier for three species and flight period longer for a different set of three species.
    3. Key correlates of first appearance date and flight-period length were winter temperature, which increased over the study period, and spring temperature which showed a non-significant warming trend. Wetter summers also marginally lengthened the flight period. In addition, there were significant year effects, suggestive of population responses to changing climate independent of prevailing temperature.
    4. However, there was little evidence that last appearances in autumn have become later, and maximum numbers have not increased.
    5. These trends match those reported from other, better-studied taxa.

    A point to note is the mix changes because some species respond differently. That’s ecology in action.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2009 @ 2:48 PM

  248. Believe CO2 reach 2% during the Apollo 13 mission.

    2% is 20,000 ppm

    Comment by Andrew — 18 Mar 2009 @ 5:13 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2009 @ 7:05 PM

  250. Wonderful thread-related article here:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2009 @ 8:24 PM

  251. re 248, not in the movie. Though the units weren’t in ppm.

    PS Aren’t humans plant food? After all, we get buried and we’re “pushing up daisies” aren’t we? So we should be making MORE humans to help increase the amount of plant food available, yes?

    Comment by Mark — 19 Mar 2009 @ 4:04 AM

  252. Relative to some of the concerns raised by Aaron Lewis earlier in this thread:

    Lobella et al, 2006:
    Impacts of future climate change on California perennial crop yields: Model projections with climate and crop uncertainties

    Full article available at:


    Most research on the agricultural impacts of climate change has focused on the major annual crops, yet perennial cropping systems are less adaptable and thus potentially more susceptible to damage. In regions where perennial crops are economically and culturally important, improved assessments of yield responses to future climate are needed to prioritize adaptation strategies. These impact assessments, in turn, must rely on climate and crop models that contain often poorly defined uncertainties. We evaluated the impact of climate change on six major perennial crops in California: wine grapes, almonds, table grapes, oranges, walnuts, and avocados. Outputs from multiple climate models were used to evaluate climate uncertainty, while multiple statistical crop models, derived by resampling historical databases, were used to address crop response uncertainties. We find that, despite these uncertainties, climate change in California is very likely to put downward pressure on yields of almonds, walnuts, avocados, and table grapes by 2050. Without CO2 fertilization or adaptation measures, projected losses range from 0 to >40% depending on the crop and the trajectory of climate change. Climate change uncertainty generally had a larger impact on projections than crop model uncertainty, although the latter was substantial for several crops. Opportunities for expansion into cooler regions were identified, but this adaptation would require substantial investments and may be limited by non-climatic constraints. Given the long time scales for growth and production of orchards and vineyards (not, vert, similar30 years), climate change should be an important factor in selecting perennial varieties and deciding whether and where perennials should be planted.

    Keywords: Climate change; Perennial agriculture; Almonds; Grapes; California

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 19 Mar 2009 @ 7:53 PM

  253. BTW I really enjoyed the lecture by Dickson in the link you provided Hank (250). The guy has a nice style.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 19 Mar 2009 @ 7:56 PM

  254. Thingsbreak posts much worth reading, glad to see you over there too.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Mar 2009 @ 8:31 PM

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Close this window.

0.402 Powered by WordPress