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Unforced Variations: July 2013

Filed under: — group @ 1 July 2013

This month’s open thread…

We have just updated the blog software, and are taking a little time to assess how up-to-date some the content is (including the theme, mobile theme, blogroll, about pages and the RC wiki etc.). So this might be a good time to chime in with your suggestions as well as discussing the latest climate science issues.

350 Responses to “Unforced Variations: July 2013”

  1. 51
    Hank Roberts says:

    Chuck, you’ve asked this before, you’ve read David Archer on it, there’s been nothing new.

    Instead that 2008 study and the 2011 press release are hyped and rehyped.

    There’s PR going on to try to build an argument to “depressurize” the evil methane lurking underneath the sediments in the Arctic. It’s stayed there through past periods of extreme warming. Look up “depressurize” and “methane” on the google.

    It’s like fracking in intent. Same purpose; release gas, burn it and profit.

    Look hard at the argument being repeatedly made for spending our very limited amount of money and time on the unlikely extreme case that profits a few.

    Build a whole new infrastructure to pull natural gas out from under the seabed, and what have we got? A new infrastructure for burning more gas.

    The Japanese are already tapping seabed methane like this now.

    If any of the proponents were serious about avoiding the problem they’d be urging spending money to manage the CO2 produced by selling the methane.

  2. 52

    Chuck, this has been talked about a fair amount in the past, so I’m going to try to summarize my sense of what was said.

    1) There seems to be good evidence that there is increased methane release, and this is concerning.

    2) It is known that there is an awful lot of carbon in the Arctic, among all the marine and lacustrine sediments, frozen soils and peat bogs.

    3) There seems to be some evidence that methane release will not be a sudden ‘all at once’ thing, but more gradual, rather. But that seemed to remain somewhat in dispute.

    4) The ‘pros’ seemed much less concerned about the impact of the methane than some commenters. As I understand it, that is not because the impact would not be significant, but because for various reasons they thought that it would not be determinative. They expected that it would be CO2 levels, not methane releases, that really drive the state of our planetary systems over the medium term. In part, that is because methane tends to decay to CO2 within a decade or so, anyway.

    Hope that’s reasonably accurate as a quick summary, but I’m sure others will jump in to correct or elaborate if needed. (Heck, they may already have done, and just haven’t cleared moderation yet.)

  3. 53
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Thanks Hank. I’m trying to separate fact from fiction by appealing to reliable, level-headed sources for my information.

  4. 54
    doug says:

    Dr. Jennifer Francis has said she thinks it likely that the jet stream will continue having more of a North/South component to it, and I also believe she said she thinks it will continue to slow. I believe she also said that we are seeing this in all seasons now. (an altered jet stream) I know that the link between this phenomenon and greenhouse gas emissions are not as established as a lot of other areas of climate science. However, if she turns out to be correct, and the jet stream continues to slow and become more “wavy”, (whether it’s caused by Arctic amplification or not), my question is, how far could this phenomenon go? What is the “end” state? Is it possible for example that we could find the jet stream staying in place for months at a time, years, decades? How wavy could this waviness become?

    Of course nobody knows the answer to these questions, but perhaps people have theories for what is somewhat likely or possible to happen. Any insights would be helpful.

  5. 55
    Hank Roberts says:

    This is another secondary source, but may have pointers to the original work by Dr. Jennifer Francis and others — this is from fall 2012.
    I found it at

    —–excerpt follows—–
    “Arctic Wind Shift Could Affect Ice Loss and Weather, Study Says
    11 October 2012

    “… NOAA-led study published October 10 in Geophysical Research Letters.
    “… discovered that the previously normal west-to-east flowing upper-level winds have been replaced by a more north-south undulating, or wave-like, pattern. This new wind pattern transports warmer air into the Arctic and pushes Arctic air farther south, and may influence the likelihood of persistent weather conditions in the mid-latitudes.

    “‘What we’re seeing is stark evidence that the gradual temperature increase is not the important story related to climate change; it’s the rapid regional changes and increased frequency of extreme weather that global warming is causing. As the Arctic warms at twice the global rate, we expect an increased probability of extreme weather events across the temperate latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where billions of people live,’ said Jennifer Francis of Rutgers.”

  6. 56
    Hank Roberts says:

    So, ah, this “tipping point” notion seems an area of research; from the latest Geophysical Research Letters — this is modeling not observation, not an actual early warning of observing any actual change, mind you, don’t anybody who’s not a scientist start blogging bloody murder based on the abstract (which is all I can see).

    But — it’s interesting to see the subject’s being looked into. Anyone got access to the full paper care to say more about the general area and why it’s of interest?

    Interaction network based early warning indicators for the Atlantic MOC collapse
    DOI: 10.1002/grl.50515

    Geophysical Research Letters
    Volume 40, Issue 11, pages 2714–2719, 16 June 2013

  7. 57

    #56–Hank, I found a pre-pub PDF here:

    It’s pretty technical, but perhaps this section from the introduction gives the background research and discusses potential utility:

    Since Stommel’s seminal paper [Stommel, 1961] many model studies have shown that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) may be sensitive to changes in the freshwater balance of the northern North Atlantic [Bryan, 1986]. When an anomalous freshwater flux is gradually applied over a broad swath in the subpolar North Atlantic, the MOC collapses in many ocean-climate models [Rahmstorf et al., 2005]. Freshening of the surface waters in the Nordic and Labrador Seas inhibits the production of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), which feeds the deep southward branch of the MOC. The MOC collapse occurs due to the existence of a tipping point associated with the salt-advection feedback [Dijkstra and Ghil, 2005; Lenton, 2011].

    Over the last few years there has been a growing interest in developing early warning indicators for proximity of tipping points in systems for which the external conditions change very slowly with time [Scheffer et al., 2009; Kuehn, 2011; Scheffer et al., 2012; Barnosky et al., 2012]. For regime shifts in ecosystems, early warning indicators have been based on either temporal or spatial correlations [Donangelo et al., 2010].

    For the MOC collapse problem, the slow change is caused by the gradually varying freshwater forcing in the northern North Atlantic.

    Early warning indicators of the approach to the tipping point for the MOC have sofar been mostly based on temporal characteristics of the single time series [Held and Kleinen, 2004] or an ensemble of such time series [Livina and Lenton, 2007]. The techniques currently used (for an overview, see Lenton [2011]) are based on the concepts of critical slowdown (degenerate fingerprinting [Held and Kleinen, 2004], detrended fluctuation analysis [Livina and Lenton, 2007]) and the existence of multiple equilibria (potential analysis [Livina et al., 2010, 2011]).

    In this paper, we present new early warning indicators for the collapse of the MOC which are based on the spatial correlations of the Atlantic temperature field. Such changes in spatial correlations can be effectively detected by an interaction network approach [Tsonis and Roebber, 2004; Donges et al., 2009; Bialonski et al., 2011; Gozolchiani et al., 2011; Tsonis and Swanson, 2012]. A link between different locations in such a network is established when a correlation measure of their co-varying time series exceeds a certain threshold. To demonstrate the application potential of the new indicators, we apply the interaction network methodology to temperature time series from a meridional-depth model of the Atlantic MOC.

    It looks as if this has been on at least a side burner throughout most of the last decade.

  8. 58
    prokaryotes says:

    Perception of climate opinion in the public mind by Stephan Lewandowsky

    Michael Mann: The Battle to Communicate Climate Change: Lessons from The Front Lines – summary

    State of the Climate System (2013) by Richard Alley
    Walk through to recent science.

  9. 59
    Dave Peters says:

    Re: noelfuller, # 34.

    Thirteen years ago, I attempted to derive a “highly transparent,” or readily-intuitive ratio between the climatic consequence of–and energy liberated by–burning a pound of carbon. At that time, by ignoring deforestration vs. fertilization complexities, and by looking back a quarter-century, one could reasonably equate the atmospheric sink rate to that of net injection. That is, half of then recent decades’ exhaust showed up at Mona Loa, and half disappeared. This “lifetime for dummies” deliberately dodges the Archer asymptote, and “measures” the decay rate of airborne CO2 at one-third of a percent per year (finding only 34 molecules per thousand emitted, still airborne a full millennium after the burn). Further, I rounded the average life in the air, apparent from these assumptions, to a truncated 250 years. Nevertheless. though more than a hundred million-fold lower than that of Dr. Archer, at a devilish 666 to one, my ratio implies that a pound of carbon flying across this interval can directly raise over thirteen million pounds of water by one degree F., and that the typical American’s million pounds of lifetime combustion-consequence, could “heat” The Great Salt Lake by a single degree F. Similarly, when depicted as an instantaneous sum, this amount of energy could also bring that American’s share of the world’s oceans to a boiling depth exceeding 2,000 feet, or sustainably warm its top 500 feet across his lifetime by over 40 degrees F., when amplified at Charney sensitivity.

    Though I communicated with Dr. Archer at the time, I held several reasons for eschewing the complexity of ocean carbon chemistry. After all, the fog from buffering had stumped the best scientific minds in the world for the important two mid-twentieth century decades between Callendar and Revelle. Both the acquittal in the 1995 Simpson trial, and the politics of Yucca Mountain in the 1980’s, had chastened me concerning the public’s capacity to comprehend emerging science. I had personally worked on the waste storage problem, and anguish over our inability to bring certitude to assertions pertaining a million years out, in that instance, were an important element in pre-maturely retiring a generation of nuclear engineers. Placing that kettle of fish and outcome in one balance pan, and the climatic consequence of the nuclear shut down in the other, my personal weighing had tilted strongly opposite to that of conventional wisdom. Further, it seemed to me at the time, something of an inconvenient aspect of ocean carbon chemistry, that were we magically to stop “compressing” that spring, and abruptly end all combustion, the first order response would be a consequential out-gassing of CO2 into the air.

  10. 60

    #58–Thanks. Bookmarked Lobell et al., 2012, from Dr. Alley’s talk:

    Growth rates in aggregate crop productivity to 2050 will continue to be mainly driven by technological and agronomic improvements, just as they have for the past century. Even in the most pessimistic scenarios, it is highly unlikely that climate change would result in a net decline in global yields. Instead, the relevant question at the global scale is how much of a headwind climate change could present in the perpetual race to keep productivity growing as fast as demand….

    However, the best available science related to climate change and crop physiology indicates that climate change represents a credible threat to sustaining global productivity growth at rates necessary to keep up with demand. Increasing the scale of investments in crop improvement, and increasing the emphasis of these investments on global change factors, will help to sustain yield growth over the next few decades.

    Of course, that’s with reference to direct effects of temperature on plants, and doesn’t consider the effects of warming on, say, hydrology.

  11. 61
    Hank Roberts says:

    Vicky Arroyo, Georgetown Climate Center, on Science Friday (transcript):

  12. 62
    Jim Larsen says:

    59 Dave P said, “abruptly end all combustion, the first order response would be a consequential out-gassing of CO2 into the air”

    I don’t think so. The ocean would continue absorbing CO2 until we hit a new equilibrium (assuming no tipping points).

  13. 63
    Hank Roberts says:

    > abruptly end all combustion

    I think he means what he said literally — somehow ending all combustion.

    That would mean no forest fires.

    If he means abruptly ending only fossil fuel burning — well, natural biogeochemical cycling has handled about half of the fossil carbon too, so it would be a fairly fast step down in the atmosphere.

    Still the ocean’s lagging quite a bit behind the atmospheric increase. I don’t see how it’d reverse so fast.

  14. 64
    doug says:

    Thanks Hank #55. I have watched her presentations via youtube, e.t.c. I suppose the best source for my questions would be her, but I won’t contact Dr. Francis. I know she is swamped with inquiries these days. I would be surprised if she has publicly come out and said anything beyond that she thinks the polar jet will likely increase it’s north/south trajectory and slow down even more over time. (Doubtful that she’s speculated on how far this phenomenon could go).

    I have a fear, justified or not, that the polar jet will eventually freeze in place, or at least spend months without moving. And depending upon where it is set up, the weather all around the Northern Hemisphere would essentially not change. This sounds like the worst kind of science fiction movie, and I wonder if it is a possibility, and in what time frame? Dr. Jeff Masters was commenting on his blog this past week that that the Jet has taken this wavy shape three times already this Summer, and that is responsible for the wild weather we are all seeing. He said he’s never seen anything like it in 30 years of observations.

  15. 65
    Chuck Hughes says:

    I read David Archers post on Methane Hydrates and the subsequent comments. I missed that post when it came out in 2010 so I didn’t know how thoroughly this topic had been discussed in the past. Thanks again to Hank R. and Kevin M. for pointing me in the right direction.

    Does anybody have any input on the configuration of the Jet Stream and all the flooding in the last few months in Europe, Canada and now the Ohio Valley? I’m currently in Colorado and we’re finally getting some rain along the front range, enough to tamp down the fire danger for a while. A friend of mine from Germany sent me a video of the flooding in Jena, Germany and it looked pretty severe. I also noticed some other comments asking about the jet stream as well. It’s also a “hot topic” on MSNBC and other news sites as well as Dr. Jeff Masters. Maybe someone can shed some light on what’s happening and what we may be looking at during this hurricane season. I’m aware that it has a lot to do with the loss of Arctic Ice but the results are dramatic to say the least.

    In light of President Obama’s recent Climate Change speech I’m wondering if anyone here thinks the Obama administration has a pretty good grasp of the situation we’re in?


  16. 66
    Dave Peters says:

    62 Jim

    I do not wish to introduce an erroneous notion here, and certainly am no master of buffering chemistry. The e-mail exchange I had with Dr. Archer was brief and over a decade ago and perhaps I misunderstood him. But, as I understood him at the time, the reason that something close to half of the CO2 we are adding to the air each year was vanishing, was that we were continuously “pushing” against the equilibrium. Should that stop, I understood him to imply, the relaxation would entail a reversal of flow, from the ocean to the atmosphere. Perhaps, only the apparent rate of flow would vanish, or drastically change. Of course, the gradual accumulation of heat, in and of itself, should inspire some out-gassing.

    This seems to me a damned important point. As I recall, the “state of play” of ascribing a specific point estimate to the concept of “average lifetime of a burned molecule in the atmosphere” was tumultuous and controversial at the turn of the century, and I believe one of the early IPCC reports essentially ducked this one, after chewing on the subject rather thoroughly. Back then, I very much desired to be able to assert two things: A) look here folks, if we double airborne CO2, we will get a negative (one-half, 3/4, full) Ice Age; & B) an average American’s exhaust gas, over its lifetime in the air, will induce a radiative impulse that will accumulate X amount of direct (indisputable) heat energy, and Y amount of additional heating from feedbacks, the extent of which was the subject of the ongoing (& likely unresolvable) dispute and uncertainty. The numbers jumping out of my calculator were so astonishingly large, that I thought a “boiling ocean” depth metaphor a quite powerful communication tool. (It induced a former philosophy professor of mine to immediately junk his beloved twenty-year old Detroit-iron Caddy for one of the first hybrids sold in California.) One could not describe a simple glaciation factor at the time, according to folks at GFDL, because conflicting data from the tropics fuzzed the assessment of the “average global temperature” under full Pleistocene ice, by a factor of two.

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    for Chuck Hughes, jet stream, try above

  18. 68
    JCH says:

    With current ENSO predictions leaning slightly toward La NIna at the end of 2013, this is interesting:

    El Niño Variability Derived from Tree Rings and Instrumental Measurements


    Predicting how the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will change with global warming is of enormous importance to society1, 2, 3, 4. ENSO exhibits considerable natural variability at interdecadal–centennial timescales5. Instrumental records are too short to determine whether ENSO has changed6 and existing reconstructions are often developed without adequate tropical records. Here we present a seven-century-long ENSO reconstruction based on 2,222 tree-ring chronologies from both the tropics and mid-latitudes in both hemispheres. The inclusion of tropical records enables us to achieve unprecedented accuracy, as attested by high correlations with equatorial Pacific corals7, 8 and coherent modulation of global teleconnections that are consistent with an independent Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction9. Our data indicate that ENSO activity in the late twentieth century was anomalously high over the past seven centuries, suggestive of a response to continuing global warming. Climate models disagree on the ENSO response to global warming3, 4, suggesting that many models underestimate the sensitivity to radiative perturbations. Illustrating the radiative effect, our reconstruction reveals a robust ENSO response to large tropical eruptions, with anomalous cooling in the east-central tropical Pacific in the year of eruption, followed by anomalous warming one year after. Our observations provide crucial constraints for improving climate models and their future projections.

  19. 69
  20. 70
    prokaryotes says:

    Re doug #54 “…my question is, how far could this phenomenon go? What is the “end” state? Is it possible for example that we could find the jet stream staying in place for months at a time, years, decades? How wavy could this waviness become?”

    Ok, here is what i imagine could happen:

    Maybe think of this metaphor for earth as a living being, assume what happens if a major artery stops the flow of blood.

    Now for the observation; Energy is no longer bound in the sea ice, instead it goes into the ocean and atmosphere. A main theme here seems to be that the main northern hemispheric pressure gradient – the polar vortex collapses, maybe even permanently.

    Which in turn changes the major air oscillation ,the Jet Stream. Which means profound changes with ripple effects through out the earth systems. A new “mode” is established which primary characteristic is persistence of conditions (hence the lack of the past air flow). THIS mode hints especially to a interconnection with the IPO index( ), which suggests that ocean circulation will be affected incredibly. You probably enter a rapid transistion phase when system adjustments cross various tipping point thresholds in a couple of years. A lack of the major air oscillation, which i assume hints to equally less wave generation – could establish a permanent El Nino configuration. Where heat is just hanging in the upper surface of ocean waters, hence ocean dead zones will spread.

    You might have to deal on a short time scale with the failing of considerable amounts in grain production. This was further highlighted in a recent Chapman talk, Richard Alley gave last month (see link above). Though he tied it to higher temperatures, i make a connection here to extreme weather – persistent weather conditions combined with an emerging permanent El Nino.

  21. 71

    #65–Chuck, you may be interested in my thoughts on last year’s sea ice minimum; there was a fair amount in there about the possible (but as yet unsettled) link between sea ice and the meandering Jet Stream.

    (Though I must say that, though it’s anecdotal evidence at this point, current and recent conditions aren’t exactly poster kids for the theory–we’ve got relatively high extent, by recent standards, a strikingly cold Arctic by recent standards, and we’ve also got a meandering jet stream. But it’s complicated, and I’m sure seasonality is important.)

  22. 72
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Taking my headphones off for a moment to advertise the AGU Chapman talks who have appeared on youtube:

    AGU Chapman 2013.

    There are a number of incredible ones that every reader here would benefit from seeing. I can especially recommend Richard Alley, Mike Mann, Jeffrey Haines-Stiles, Spencer Weart, … well actually the lot of them.

    (RC-ers, would this be something for a placeholder post? You are all AGU members right?)

    Back to watching…

  23. 73
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Arctic sea ice extent, area and volume is now beginning to fall precipitously. To me that demonstrates just how rotten and slushy the ice has become. Now virtually all the perennial ice has gone except for a ridiculously narrow band bordering northern Canada. It doesn’t really matter now whether the melt was caused by ocean warming, arctic cyclones or soot deposited on the ice sheets, what’s gone is gone. Now the arctic circle is free to warm like never before leading unstoppably to ocean bed Ch4 release and rapid permafrost melting which will surprisingly quickly make the rate and volume of our man made emissions pale into abject negligence. Put another way the future ‘best case’ rate of decline of our anthropogenic emissions will be utterly swamped by nature’s brutal positive feedback system focussed on removing it’s primary pathogen…us!
    If that sounds a bit like James Lovelock..maybe you guys should revisit his predictions. They sound entirely plausible to me!!.

  24. 74
    JimBob says:

    What has caused this year’s sudden depletion of Arctic Sea Ice?

    Any anomalous weather conditions this time?

  25. 75
    Complex guy says:

    Well, I’ve already posted it on Stoat, but anyway, I’ll ask here as well.
    Here is a pdf by David Wasdell, a psychoanalyst who “analyzes” work in climate science. He claims that the arctic could very likely be ice free in 2014 or even this year. I am not qualified enough to judge him, but based on the fact that he did seem to talk some nonsense in the past (I recall him claiming that the IPCC ignored the water vapor feedback), I’d love to know whether he did a better job this time.

    pdf is here:

  26. 76
    Hank Roberts says:

    … oh … dear ….
    Would someone please ask Mr. Gore and Mr. Prince if they’re fans as described?
    I can’t understand these British political groups, the names confuse me.

  27. 77
    Thomas says:

    Dave Peters @66 and others:
    Consider the following model for CO2 reservoirs.
    You have three columns containing water. One is labeled “atmosphere”,
    one is labels “surface water”, and a third fat one is labeled “deep water”.
    We also have a swimming pool, labeled “carbonate/silicates”.
    A straw connects the first cyllinder with the second, and another straw
    connects the first with the third. A very very think staw connects the first
    cyllinder with the swimming pool. It is known that a disequilibrium between
    the first and second cyllinders has a halflife of about a year. Similarly
    between the first cyllinder and the fat “deep water” cyllinder is a couple
    of hundred years. Finally because of the size of the smimming pool, and
    the thinness of that straw, the equilibrium halflife with the swimming
    pool is a couple hundred thousand years.
    Now steadily add water to the “atmosphere” cyllinder, and water will start
    flowing from that cyllinder to the others. After maybe a hundred years,
    stop adding water. At this point the atmosphere water level is still the
    highest one, flow in all straws will still be away from it. After a few years
    atmosphere will be lower than surface waters (in a real model the straw
    connects surface with deep) but this reverse flow is driven by the lowering
    of atmosphere by drainage into the larger reservoirs. The atmospheric
    concentration will continually decline, buy the rate of decrease will
    get lower as time goes by.
    You could easily construct a set of coupled first order linear
    differential equations to represent this system -or a larger more complicated
    network of reservoirs, and solve via computer.

  28. 78
    JCH says:

    Currently there are lots of discussions around the internet about the SLR and OHC. During the “standstill”, some 10 years, both have gone up significantly.

    In these discussions there is a persistent notion about how the oceans warm, and there has to be something wrong with my understanding. It’s widely thought only SW can warm the oceans. Because LW barely penetrates the water, its argued all LW downwelling is used up in evaporation of some of the skin layer. A recent earth’s energy balance cartoon feeds into their beliefs by stating that they’ve raised the amount of LW downwelling, and that the additional amount was offset by additional evaporation. The skeptics believe a perfect balancing act is in place, and the creators of the diagram seemingly described one.

    These same skeptics tend to ridicule Peter MInnett’s RC article on how GHGs warm the oceans. But to me observations appear to be perfectly aligned with Minnett’s theory. Given the “standstill” in the rise of the surface atmosphere temperature, it looks to me like under Minnett’s theory the enhanced GHE – despite the flat SAT trend – would continue to raise OHC and consequently its component of SLR. Am I wrong there? These skeptics seem to think OHC can only go up if the SAT also goes up. They take the “standstill” in the SAT as proof OHC numbers are fictional.

    Has SW gone up? How else could SW only continuously raise OHC and its budget component of SLR (the skeptic theory)? The only thing I can think of is increased wind-driven downwelling, and they weren’t exactly in love with that theory either.

  29. 79
    Dave Peters says:

    For Jim (62) & Hank (63)

    Just a bit of clarification on “disappearing (& reappearing)” airborne CO2. Lets start with Dr. Archer’s assertion that a pound or so of every gallon’s worth of carbon stays in the air until ocean-bottom geochemistry removes it on multi-millennial time scales. That HAS TO mean terrestrial processes (e.g., forgetful squirrels burying acorns) would be ineffectual, in pulling CO2 out of the air. Such would merely be compensated by out-gassing from the ocean’s deep vault of all of the centuries of carbon we have “set in motion”. Ignoring the warmth-driven evaporation, in 100 years using my 0.34% annual apparent sink rate, air retains ~71% of all exhaust, which thereby decays to Archer levels by about the 500th year (~18% remaining in the air). At this point, my equillibration process would have to all but shut off, to yield Archer-scale energy integrals. Whatever the words chosen to compare these processes, “consequential out-gassing”, “handled about half”, “continue absorbing”, or “flow all but vanish, or drastically change”—there has to be a HUGE reduction in the rate CO2 leaves the atmosphere, in comparison to that with which we are so familiar.

    If we are to fully grasp Dr. Archer’s insightful contribution, we can compare our two energy ratios, but first I must clear up an idiotic confusion that I have introduced.. In my response to Noel Fuller, I erroneously compared our two ratios (@, # 59: “though more than a hundred million more than Dr. Archer’s, my ratio of a devilish 666”). His CO2 returns 100,000,000,000 radiative BTUs per 2,500 chemical, or forty-million-to-one. Mine return 666 to one. Thus, his are 60,060 stronger than mine. This difference has little to do with spectroscopic prowess. His molecules live ~ 60 k longer, as airborne actors. This means that CO2 liberated by Darby at Coalbrookdale may well have likely enjoyed a long lurk in seawater, but Darby nevertheless has PUT THEM IN PLAY. If a squirrel buries an acorn tomorrow, there is a relevant chance that molecule can come out of hiding to replace the molecules the squirrel has removed from the air, up and until some much, much slower process turns it back to stone. Thinking that anything near today’s decay rates apply to a post-carbon economy is wrong, wrong, wrong. If combustion stops, de-residence stops, or slows by ~60,000-fold. You guys had me back-pedalling yesterday, but drove me to better appreciate Dr. Archer overnight.

  30. 80
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lawrence Coleman wrote: “Arctic sea ice extent, area and volume is now beginning to fall precipitously.”

    However, JimBob linked to the NSIDC site which states as of July 2:

    Arctic sea ice continues to track below average but remains well above the levels seen last year. The relatively slow ice loss is a reflection of the prevailing temperature and wind patterns … Although the rate of ice loss increased toward the end of June, overall ice has retreated more slowly this summer compared to last summer, reflecting patterns of atmospheric circulation and air temperature.

    So, what’s the deal? It would appear that the Arctic sea ice is not “beginning to fall” more “precipitously” than last year; indeed the opposite is true.

  31. 81
    pete best says:

    From Christopher Booker at the Telegraph: [edit – source link added]

    “Panic over Arctic ice – what else can the warmists get wrong?

    As evidence to support their belief system continues to crumble in all directions, acolytes of the warming cult fall back ever more desperately on the summer melting of Arctic ice to justify their wishful thinking that the world is still warming, and to explain why we are enjoying such cold winters and wet summers. Real scientists (as opposed to climate modellers) have long maintained that the decline in Arctic ice is caused not by warmer air – in the past year or two Arctic air temperatures have actually been falling – but by shifts in major ocean currents, pushing warmer water up into the Arctic Circle. Ken Drinkwater, one of a team of scientists at the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen who have been observing the Arctic for decades, dismisses the idea that the ice is melting because of any rise in global temperatures. “The warming,” he says, “is primarily due to currents. A greater amount of warm Atlantic water is flowing into the North Atlantic and up to the Barents Sea.” He points out that this is just what happened in the 1920s and 1930s, when the ice melted even more dramatically than it has done in recent years, before it recovered again during the decades of what is called “the Little Cooling”.

    All this hysteria over the ice, of course, also ignores the fact that Antarctic sea ice has been expanding, so that there is currently more sea ice globally than the 34-year average. But another dramatic consequence of the Arctic warming is the moving northwards of vast quantities of cod and other fish as their food becomes more abundant. This has allowed the Norwegians and Russians, who manage the fisheries in the Barents, to award themselves a cod quota this year of a million tons, doubtless bringing tears to the eyes of our British fishermen, allowed by the EU to catch just 10,000 tons in the North Sea. The fishermen of Norway thus have another reason to be grateful that their country never joined the EU, which would have made their waters, like ours, “a common European resource”, administered by hapless Brussels bureaucrats. Doubtless they would somehow have made as much of a mess of managing this natural bonanza as they have of everything else they touch.”

    [Response: I have no idea where the source of the Drinkwater quote is (anyone?), but the idea that Arctic sea ice in the 1920’s or 1930’s was anything like as low as it is now is laughable. There were no Northwest passage crossings in under three weeks in sailboats, and news stories from the 1920’s (e.g. from MWR in 1922) speak of amazement at reaching latitudes (81º 29’N) that are now commonplace and greatly exceeded in the same areas today. – gavin]

  32. 82
    KR says:

    JCH – With increased wind-driven downwelling, and very importantly upwelling of cooler deep waters, the sea surface temperature can indeed remain steady or even cool with an ongoing increase of total OHC. An increase in SW is not required – I don’t see any contradiction at all.

    In fact, such increased circulation, by maximizing the top of atmosphere imbalance with cooler air, speeds total climate warming and acts to (slightly) decrease the time constant of approach to equilibrium with any particular forcing imbalance.

    Not that this helps much, with continuing GHG increases continuing to increase forcings…

  33. 83
    wili says:

    At #72, Martin Vermeer wrote: “…we’ve got relatively high extent, by recent standards, a strikingly cold Arctic by recent standards, and we’ve also got a meandering jet stream. But it’s complicated…”

    I was wondering about the same thing. Is this year’s relatively cold Arctic but still wavy jet stream a major challenge to Francis’s theory? Perhaps the change in albedo over land from snow loss plays/can play a bigger role that expected? Or was that part of the theory in the first place? Complicated, indeed!

    Any light anyone could throw on any of this would be most welcome.

  34. 84
    Hank Roberts says:

    > That HAS TO mean …. here has to be …. If combustion stops …

    Well, Dr. Archer looks in here occasionally, perhaps he’ll comment.
    Does ‘combustion’ refer only to burning fossil carbon, as you use the word?

  35. 85
    Chuck Hughes says:

    I don’t know who Ken Drinkwater is but Pete Best was the first drummer for the Beatles who was fired and replaced by Ringo. I think that pretty much explains the comment.

  36. 86
    Marco says:

    Gavin @81: the Drinkwater quote comes from
    and is followed by a classic Booker misrepresentation. Booker makes it sound as if Drinkwater mentions significant ice melting in the 1920s and 30s, but he doesn’t. That is just Booker’s own imagination running wild.

  37. 87
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @71. Thanks again Kevin. Great article. Bookmarked and saved.

  38. 88
    Killian says:

    Thomas said Also some power -probably including solar, but certainly the case for wind and most hydro and geothermal has considerable efficiences that accrue from the scale of the facilities. I believe this will the case with storage as well. Large facilities which require high tech management are likley to provide the cheapest bulk storage.

    The mistake here is in assuming the dominance of efficiency. Extreme efficiency has been encouraged primarily due to the interest in controlling costs of production, but has spread to every facet of society. The problem with efficiency is fragility. With a system that is failing at every level, greater efficiency is a grave mistake.

    The systems you want to be building are both efficient and robust, thus resilient. Natural systems do this in a very simple way: connections. Permaculture simplifies this to making sure every element in a system supports two or more functions, and every function supports two or more elements. And the more connections the merrier.

    Now, one reason a distributed grid is better than the mega-grid we have now is because it is anything but redundant. A failure in one piece of the system can throw entire regions into darkness, as we have seen multiple times. With every home/building or community separable from the system, this can never happen.

    Also grid connected storage is likely to be able to find more customers per Kwhour of capacity
    if it is connected to broad based grid.

    While I understand the focus on money, the fact is the ecosystem, thus every system, is failing. The longer we remain concerned with profit as the primary factor, we cannot create a sustainable system. The need for customers is directly tied to needing profit. But what if you didn’t need profit, could generate electricity for the grid and still live just fine?

    You will scoff perhaps, but this is one of the great challenges of sustainability: shifting to a non-profit-based economics. The best time to make the shift is now. The second-best is tomorrow. And so on and so on.

    Since this is not happening today or tomorrow, how do we build resilience and eliminate the profit-based grid at the same time, with little or no disruption? Massively distributed grid. Let the builders of systems be where the profit goes. Nationalize the large utilities, if necessary, to eliminate the profit need.

    Eventually you will be left with a massively distributed system and a minimized backbone, with the one owned by individuals and communities and the other owned by all of us – perhaps a national co-op?

    Ah, but! What of the level of need? That is the mistake in your thinking. Anyone planning a future grid that supports the same kWhs we use now is failing to understand how dire our resource limits are, and more so, how dire the climate issue is. By one count I have done, we may be six bifurcations into this phase change. Take a look at a graphic of bifurcations and see where that leaves us!

    Consumption must drop across the board, and not just a little. A more conservative, BAU-greenwashed view is we need to cut it in half, and we’ll be fine. This is naive. Such assessments rarely look at all resources in favor of those they think to be primary. The problem, of course, is Liebigs Law of the Minimum, aka the weakest link. With a system as complex as the ecosystem, assuming we know which critical elements are which is a very, very dangerous game to play and the chances of us being correct with all of them are vanishingly small. E.g., a paper just came out about soil microorganisms in which two primary organisms exist in the soil, one found in drier soils and one found in wetter soils. The expectation is that the one is going to take a lot of territory from the other as the planet warms.

    What the heck is that gonna do?! Yikes! Take the wolf out of Yellowstone and the trees along the creeks disappear, and the cascade continues right down through the food chain and you eventually are left with a very different ecosystem.

    Lets not let our desires for better social organization trump our engineering and economic judgement. We already have a society and political system.

    No, let’s do. The social and political systems we have cannot generate a sustainable future because their bases are the opposite of sustainable, being based solely on growth and profit. Rather, let us not let the thinking that got us here not keeping from moving past this grave threat to the biota of the planet. I remind you of what Einstein and Fuller said, respectively: You can’t solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it and don’t fight an old paradigm, build a better one and let the old one fade away.

    “Lets do our level headed best to cut the size of the needed investment to the minimin. Only in this way can we minimize the net carbon emissions during the transition.

    Rather, let us gain a resilient energy system while minimizing our consumption. The saving with dropping consumption to (hopefully) sustainable levels is orders of magnitude greater than building a more efficient super-grid. There is no reason for any home to need more than a 1 kw system, but we can put a 5 kw combo system and/or community-based system on every household in the country for 500 billion, and we can do it by simply using the cap and dividend to fund it over the next five to ten years.

    If we really wanted to push it, we could build out the entire nation’s distributed system in five years. Have the gov’t fund it and the people pay it back via cap and dividend.

    If you want to make it cheaper still, have an assessment process that scales the size of the system to the home/community. Again, no home needs more than 1 kw, we can fund 5kw easily, but a nice median of 2 or 3 per would do just fine.

  39. 89
    Killian says:

    51 Hank Roberts said, “If any of the proponents were serious about avoiding the problem they’d be urging spending money to manage the CO2 produced by selling the methane.”

    Let me get this straight, there’s been no new info on methane since 2011? I guess discovery of km-wide plumes last year was everyone’s imagination. As for Archer, I can’t think of someone I’d be less likely to recommend on CH4.

    Let’s look at the fact so far:

    – thermokarst lakes tripled from around 2000 – 2007. No update yet.
    – the largest seeps of sea bed CH4 go from tens of meters to a km in size.
    – CH4 has nearly tripled since pre-industrial from 700 to almost 2000 now, including resuming growth in 2007, which is curious correlation with the first truly alarming Arctic melt, which we know has an effect over 900 miles inland from the ocean.

    Sure. I believe you. Nothing to see here.

    I e-mailed with a scientist back in ’07 or ’08 on this issue and was told the seabed CH4 coulod not possibly start melting till around 2100.


    We have very warm water making its way to the seabed. Sanguine is not a good approach.

  40. 90
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I guess discovery of km-wide plumes last year was everyone’s imagination.

    In fact, you can look it up. The source is repeated repostings of a newspaper story, as though it were happening again and again. It hasn’t happened yet.

    Do look it up.

  41. 91

    #83–wili, those were my words, not Martin’s! I’m sure he has enough to worry about without having to take the rap for my thoughts! ;-)

    #85 & 87–Ta, Chuck, glad you liked it. Don’t worry about *this* Pete Best (or should I say ‘pete best’); he’s a regular who was basically tossing Gavin a softball.

    #79–Dave, I’ve stayed out of the ‘outgassing’ discussion because, frankly, l don’t know much about it. But here’s what baffles me about your idea: AFAIK, combustion co2 fluxes are a small fraction of the total. If that’s correct, then the ocean should ‘see’ a relatively small change from their crssation. Which makes it a puzzle to me why such a drastic change as you describe would be expected. (I read your explanattion, but don’t, I must admit, follow your logic.)

  42. 92

    Further to my comment above on ‘outgassing,’ this RC post makes more sense on the issue to me:

    There’s a relevant paragraph about five or six paras in.

  43. 93
    PatrickF says:

    #89-Killian “- the largest seeps of sea bed CH4 go from tens of meters to a km in size”, could you please give a source relating this plumes of methane to current manmade warming? Iirc, it is rather a response to the last ice age, thought it might have been amplified by human activities (

  44. 94

    #81–Brooker had to pick his moment to claim a positive global SI anomaly: it’s already back in negative territory again, as 2013’s Arctic resumes post-normal melt rates:

  45. 95
    Jim Larsen says:

    Kevin M linked to RC’s “Climate Change Commitments”

    The post focuses on CO2 instead of temperature, so it neglects aerosols by design. Cease combustion and we’ll immediately warm up even as CO2 levels start to fall.

  46. 96
    Patrick 027 says:

    re 25 Thomas (tried to post this a few days ago but it wouldn’t take)- in Secular Animist’s link in 19, they talk about resiliency, extreme weather, and the ability to connect or disconnect to keep a power supply.

    I get the impression (though I’m not sure) that the point is: for example: a home with PV – they can take and give energy from/to the larger grid; the larger grid provides an AC frequency and phase which the inverter must match. If the power on the larger grid is cut, there are reasons you might not want that house’s PV supply getting onto the grid while they’re trying to get the larger grid working again. By being able to disconnect until the larger grid is up again, that single home may not have the benefits of transmission and storage and a variety of sources (during a time period when they may not be available anyway), but at least they can have some power in the daytime to do some things (or if they have a small battery, they know they have a few minutes to wrap things up on the computer, build up some cold with the AC one last time, etc.). For large scale disruptions, substitute local community for single home in the example.

    re 88 Killian – sustainability would appear to require no growth – well, at least not greater than that which approaches some asymptote. Materials within some *depth and height limit of the Earth’s surface* are limited (setting aside accumulation of meteorites and meteor dust and geologic recycling with the Mantle, etc.). However, I’m not sure you can pin $ amounts to physical limits quantitatively and precisely for all time; can one even tie down how much value inflation-adjusted $ amounts represent? (see the quality of life stuff at the end of ; also consider potential future human evolution, etc. Maybe there is an absolute limit, but I’m thinking we could never reach it before the Universe goes dark. ie. growth may continue forever (theoretical limits – no apocalypses) simply because we can’t grow fast enough to reach the limit :) ??? )

    But any trade should be profitable (net basis, ideally considered effects over time). You wouldn’t spend money on something if you got more out of keeping your money than on the thing you buy (etc. for the seller, and so on up and down the market web; ideally diffuse pollution would be covered by Pigovian taxes (and related tariffs, etc.) while the outlawing of more concentrated dumping of undesirables would shape the market in that way). And regarding the public side, replace ‘spend money’ with ‘paying taxes’, etc. (and ‘you’ with ‘the people’). ie we should take actions that have a net benefit, not a net cost (applies to end-use if the direct end-use benefits are included – ie the dopamine I get from listening to a good song, etc.). This may not be what is meant by ‘profit’ in many contexts but I’d expect the profit motive still would make sense even in a steady state economy, for the same reasons (even if average profits shrink, economic success (such as that which would attract investment) could be measured as a deviation from that average). I actually suspect this is too simplistic, but why not use math as the key: if inflation goes to zero, just drop interest rates accordingly, etc. (If deflation is large enough, you could even have negative interest rates. As long as you lose more just holding on to your money than you do in the bank, the system would still work, wouldn’t it?)

    The law of the minimum is a tricky thing when you can use more energy to get stuff out of less concentrated ores, thus putting it back on energy as the constraint – makes sense as long as the ores are not sources of energy (and they largely wouldn’t be) (and at least one kind of energy supply could at least hypothetically be a source of some materials, though I don’t know any specifics). (PS Aluminum ore is enriched only a little relative to average rock, so I’m not worried about that element, at least). Though of course if we can use our waste streams as ores, that would be good.

    I won’t say any more about that here (we really aren’t supposed to).

  47. 97
    Russell says:

    Some twits antedate Twitter.

    If Christopher Booker’s pontification has lately become as much an embarassment to The Spectator as the Torygraph, it is because the Lawsons’s minions have been chewing on his ear.

    While the Global Warming Policy Foundation is Lord Lawson’s creation, his son Dominic Lawson is both former editor of The Spectator and brother-in-law of the egregious Viscount Monckton.

  48. 98
    Patrick 027 says:

    (If deflation is large enough, you could even have negative interest rates. As long as you lose more just holding on to your money than you do in the bank, the system would still work, wouldn’t it?) – something’s not right there – okay, I see the problem, it wouldn’t work, never mind.

  49. 99
    Patrick 027 says:

    re 54 doug, 70 prokaryotes –
    There isn’t, so far as I know, any reason that a sufficiently broad and imprecise characterization of atmospheric circulation wouldn’t continue to apply – there should continue to be an extratropical eddy-driven jet and storm track. I recall reading something by Tapio Schneider (et. al.? sorry it’s been awhile and I’m typing on the fly – try looking at 2006 publications) that suggested or stated that, given Earth’s rotation rate, etc, there is more than enough room for one such jet in each hemisphere, and even (almost) room for two in the winter (sometimes??). If a second one squeezes in, would that keep them locked in place? With only one, that extra room perhaps allows for greater variability – with the Hadley cell expanding, would that variability be reduced? However, variability in the sense of shifting north and south is distinct (though not causally isolated, I’d expect) from meandering… Is there any amount of warming that could destroy the polar jet entirely (prior to boiling oceans) or does the momentum constraint on the Hadley cell prevent that?

    I’m only on p. 7/23 (I had set all this aside for several months) of
    Butler, Amy H., David W. J. Thompson, Ross Heikes, 2010: The Steady-State Atmospheric Circulation Response to Climate Change–like Thermal Forcings in a Simple General Circulation Model. J. Climate, 23, 3474–3496.
    doi: , but just from the abstract, it seems that effects of AGW push the jet in opposing directions. If sea ice and seasonal snow loss are concentrated into a particular time period, then maybe, up to the point when we start losing a lot of snow and ice, the jet will shift poleward, then it shifts equatorward as we rapidly lose snow and ice, and then it continues to shift poleward after that winds down and the tropics keep warming (in any given season, this could happen at different points in time).

    The greater meandering makes sense given decreased equatorward temperature gradient with all other gradients and surface pressure gradients the same (but they won’t be the same necessarily).

    Changes in meandering could also be related to the change in wind speed affecting which wavelengths resonate more or less with the topography and thermal forcing pattern.

    But I have gotten the impression that the tropopause level winds should strengthen (because of the increase thermal gradient higher up in the troposphere).

  50. 100
    Patrick 027 says:

    … oh, if the tropopause level winds strengthen while the mid-troposphere and surface winds decrease, then perhaps there’d be a greater change in the refractive index (of quasi-stationary and other Rossby waves) with height in the upper troposphere (although that depends on other things too). Would there be some increased downward partial reflection of these waves then? … Well I’m done speculating for now.