Archive for the ‘Climate Science’ Category

Oh Say Can You See… Modern Sea Level Rise From a Geological Perspective?

December 19, 2013

Experts say the IPCC underestimated future sea level rise

A new study surveys 90 sea level rise experts, who say sea level rise this century will exceed IPCC projections
Wednesday 4 December 2013

John Abraham

It looks like past IPCC predictions of sea level rise were too conservative; things are worse than we thought. That is the takeaway message from a new study out in Quaternary Science Reviews and from updates to the IPCC report itself. The new study, which is also discussed in depth on RealClimate, tries to determine what our sea levels will be in the future. What they found isn’t pretty.


According to the best case scenario (humans take very aggressive action to reduce greenhouse gases), the experts think sea level rise will likely be about 0.4–0.6 meters (1.3–2.0 feet) by 2100 and 0.6–1.0 meters (2.0–3.3 feet) by 2300. According to the more likely higher emission scenario, the results are 0.7–1.2 meters (2.3–3.9 feet) by 2100 and 2.0–3.0 meters (6.5–9.8 feet) by 2300. These are significantly larger than the predictions set forth in the recently published IPCC AR5 report. They reflect what my colleagues, particularly scientists at NOAA, have been telling me for about three years.

The Guardian

Definition of climate “expert”: A parrot that can only say, “things are worse than we thought.”

The assertion of 0.7 to 1.2 meters (700-1200 mm) of sea level rise by 2100 is 100% unadulderated horse schist! This scenario would require an acceleration of sea level rise to a rate twice that of the Holocene Transgression and an average ice melt rate 24 times that of deglaciation. It is even highly unlikely that sea level will rise by as much as the ostensibly optimistic scenario (400-600 km).

A Geological Perspective of Recent Sea Level Rise

All of the estimated sea level rise since 1700 is represented by the light blue blob and dark blue line inside the black oval. Sea level isn’t doing anything now that it wasn’t already doing before All Gore invented global warming. And Holocene sea level changes have been insignificant relative to the Holocene transgression…
Figure 1. Sea 1evel rise since the late Pleistocene from Tahitian corals, tide gauges and satellite altimetry.

Defusing the Arctic Methane Time Bomb

December 9, 2013

The Arctic methane time bomb keeps on tickingFrom Scientific American


More Arctic Methane Bubbles into Atmosphere

A new study suggests more than twice as much of the potent greenhouse gas is bubbling out of the rapidly warming Arctic Ocean, speeding climate change

By Stephanie Paige Ogburn and ClimateWire

Arctic Ocean: A new study reports that methane releases from one part of the Arctic Ocean are more than twice what scientists previously thought.



If the Arctic Methane Time Bomb is really twice as bad as “scientists previously thought,” one of two things must be happening:

  1. The Arctic methane time bomb is about to go off and turn Earth into Venus.
  2. “Scientists” preconceptions about the climatic hazards of Arctic methane are very wrong.

Arctic methane is currently trapped in permafrost and in methane hydrate deposits. Some methane from these traps escapes to the atmosphere every year, particularly during warm summer months. However, there is absolutely no indication that this represents some sort of Arctic methane time bomb, ticking its way to some sort of carbon Apocalypse.


Permafrost is ground that is frozen below the active layer (~30-100 mm) for multi-year periods. Some Arctic permafrost has been frozen for at least several thousand years. The active layer may thaw seasonally; however the permafrost substrate remains frozen year-round. The frozen nature of the soil below the active layer prevents it from adequately draining. This results in a very boggy active layer with abundant decaying plant matter. As such, permafrost is generally very methane-rich.

A rapid and extensive thawing of Arctic permafrost could theoretically release a lot of methane into the atmosphere. There’s just very little reason to think that this is even a remote possibility now or in the foreseeable future.

News in Brief: Warming may not release Arctic carbon

Element could stay locked in soil, 20-year study suggests

By Erin Wayman
Web edition: May 15, 2013
Print edition: June 15, 2013; Vol.183 #12 (p. 13)

Researchers used greenhouses to artificially warm tundra (shown, in autumn) for 20 years. They found no net change in the amount of carbon stored in the soil.

Sadie Iverson

The Arctic’s stockpile of carbon may be more secure than scientists thought. In a 20-year experiment that warmed patches of chilly ground, tundra soil kept its stored carbon, researchers report.


Science News

In the Alaska experiment, they warmed the permafrost by 2°C over a 20-yr period (10 times the actual rate of warming since the 1800s) and there wasn’t the slightest hint of an accelerated methane release.

There is no evidence of widespread thawing of Arctic permafrost since Marine Isotope Stage 11 (MIS-11), approximately 450,000 years ago. None of the subsequent interglacial stages indicate widespread permafrost thawing, above 60°N, not even MIS-5 (Eemian/Sangamonian), which was about 2°C warmer than present day, possibly as much as 5°C warmer in the Arctic.

The last interglacial stage (MIS-5, Sangamonian/Eemian) was considerably warmer than the current interglacial and sea level was 3-6 meters higher than modern times. It was particularly warmer in the Arctic. Oxygen isotope ratios from the NGRIP ice core indicate that the Arctic was approximately 5°C warmer at the peak of MIS-5 (~135,000 years ago).

It also appears that it was significantly warmer in the Arctic during the Holocene Climatic Optimum (~7,000 years ago) than modern times. The Arctic was routinely ice-free during summer for most of the Holocene up until about 1,000 years ago. McKay et al., 2008 demonstrated that the modern Arctic sea ice cover is anomalously high and the Arctic summer sea surface temperature is anomalously low relative to the rest of the Holocene…

Modern sea-ice cover in the study area, expressed here as the number of months/year with >50% coverage, averages 10.6 ±1.2 months/year… Present day SST and SSS in August are 1.1 ± 2.4 8C and 28.5 ±1.3, respectively… In the Holocene record of core HLY0501-05, sea-ice cover has ranged between 5.5 and 9 months/year, summer SSS has varied between 22 and 30, and summer SST has ranged from 3 to 7.5 8C (Fig. 7).

McKay et al., 2008

Vaks et al., 2013 found no evidence of widespread permafrost thawing above 60°N since MIS-11, not even during MIS-5…

The absence of any observed speleothem growth since MIS 11 in the northerly Lenskaya Ledyanaya cave (despite dating outer edges of 7 speleothems), suggests the permanent presence of permafrost at this latitude since the end of MIS-11. Speleothem growth in this cave occurred in early MIS-11, ruling out the possibility that the unusual length of MIS-11 caused the permafrost thawing.


The degradation of permafrost at 60°N during MIS-11 allows an assessment of the warming required globally to cause such extensive change in the permafrost boundary.


There is clear evidence that the Arctic was at least 5°C warmer during MIS-11 than it is today…

Several so-called “superinterglacials” have been identified in the Quaternary sediment record from LakeEl’gygytgyn (Melles et al.,2012). Among these “superinterglacials”, marine isotope stage (MIS) 11c and 31 appear to be the most outstanding in terms of their temperature, vegetation cover, in-lake productivity, and in the case of MIS11c also duration (Melles et al.,2012). Quantitative climate reconstructions for MIS11c and 31 at Lake El’gygytgyn imply that temperatures and annual precipitation values were up to ca. 5°C and ca. 300mm higher if compared to the Holocene (Melles et al.,2012)

Vogel et al., 2013

The best geological evidence for the Arctic methane time bomb being a dud can be found in the stratigraphy beneath Lake El’gygytgyn in northeastern Russia. The lake and its mini-basin occupy a 3.58 million year old meteor crater. Its sediments are ideally suited for a continuous high-resolution climate reconstruction from the Holocene all the way back to the mid-Pliocene. Unlike most other Arctic lakes, Lake El’gygytgyn, has never been buried by glacial stage continental ice sheets. Melles et al., 2012 utilized sediment cores from Lake El’gygytgyn to build a 2.8 million year climate reconstruction of northeastern Russia…

The data from Melles et al., 2012 are available from NOAA’s paleoclimatology library. And it is clearly obvious that Arctic summers were much warmer than either the Eemian/Sangamonian (MIS-5e) and the Holocene (MIS-1)…

MIS-11 peaked a full 5°C warmer than the Holocene Climatic Optimum, which was 1-2°C warmer than the present.

Referring back to Vaks et al., 2013, we can see that there is no evidence of widespread permafrost melting above 60°N since the beginning of MIS-11…

Since we know that the Arctic was about 5°C warmer during the Eemian/Sangamonian (MIS-5e) than it currently is and that there is no evidence of widespread permafrost melt above 60°N, it’s a pretty good bet that the MIS-11 Arctic was 6-10°C warmer than the Holocene Climatic Optimum.

The lack of evidence of permafrost melt during MIS-5 tends to indicate that MIS-11 may have been more than 5°C warmer. So, the notion that we are on the verge of a permafrost meltdown is patently absurd.

Methane Hydrate Deposits

Methane hydrates (or gas hydrate) are composed of molecules of methane encased in a lattice of ice crystals. These accumulations are fairly common in marine sediments.

Gas hydrate is an ice like substance formed when methane or some other gases combine with water at appropriate pressure and temperature conditions. Gas hydrates sequester large amounts of methane and are widespread in marine sediments and sediments of permafrost areas.


99% of methane hydrate deposits are thought to be in deepwater environments. The only way that climate change could destabilize these deposits would be through a sudden drop in sea level. The thermocline of the deepwater deposits changes very little (not at all at depth) even with 20 °C of surface warming over a 1,000-yr period.

Methane Hydrates and Contemporary Climate Change

By: Carolyn D. Ruppel (U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole, MA) © 2011 Nature Education

Citation: Ruppel, C. D. (2011) Methane Hydrates and Contemporary Climate Change. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):29

Methane Hydrate Primer

Methane hydrate is an ice-like substance formed when CH4 and water combine at low temperature (up to ~25ºC) and moderate pressure (greater than 3-5 MPa, which corresponds to combined water and sediment depths of 300 to 500 m). Globally, an estimated 99% of gas hydrates occurs in the sediments of marine continental margins at saturations as high as 20% to 80% in some lithologies; the remaining 1% is mostly associated with sediments in and beneath areas of high-latitude, continuous permafrost (McIver 1981, Collett et al. 2009). Nominally, methane hydrate concentrates CH4 by ~164 times on a volumetric basis compared to gas at standard pressure and temperature. Warming a small volume of gas hydrate could thus liberate large volumes of gas.

A challenge for assessing the impact of contemporary climate change on methane hydrates is continued uncertainty about the size of the global gas hydrate inventory and the portion of the inventory that is susceptible to climate warming. This paper addresses the latter issue, while the former remains under active debate.


Fate of Contemporary Methane Hydrates During Warming Climate

The susceptibility of gas hydrates to warming climate depends on the duration of the warming event, their depth beneath the seafloor or tundra surface, and the amount of warming required to heat sediments to the point of dissociating gas hydrates. A rudimentary estimate of the depth to which sediments are affected by an instantaneous, sustained temperature change DT in the overlying air or ocean waters can be made using the diffusive length scale 1 = √kt , which describes the depth (m) that 0.5 DT will propagate in elapsed time t (s). k denotes thermal diffusivity, which ranges from ~0.6 to 1×10-6 m2/s for unconsolidated sediments. Over 10, 100, and 1000 yr, the calculation yields maximum of 18 m, 56 m, and 178 m, respectively, regardless of the magnitude of DT. In real situations, DT is usually small and may have short- (e.g., seasonal) or long-term fluctuations that swamp the signal associated with climate warming trends. Even over 103 yr, only gas hydrates close to the seafloor and initially within a few degrees of the thermodynamic stability boundary might experience dissociation in response to reasonable rates of warming. As discussed below, less than 5% of the gas hydrate inventory may meet these criteria.

Even when gas hydrate dissociates, several factors mitigate the impact of the liberated CH4 on the sediment-ocean-atmosphere system. In marine sediments, the released CH4 may dissolve in local pore waters, remain trapped as gas, or rise toward the seafloor as bubbles. Up to 90% or more of the CH4 that reaches the sulfate reduction zone (SRZ) in the near-seafloor sediments may be consumed by anaerobic CH4 oxidation (Hinrichs & Boetius 2002, Treude et al. 2003, Reeburgh 2007, Knittel & Boetius 2009). At the highest flux sites (seeps), the SRZ may vanish, allowing CH4 to be injected directly into the water column or, in some cases, partially consumed by aerobic microbes (Niemann et al. 2006).

Methane emitted at the seafloor only rarely survives the trip through the water column to reach the atmosphere.


Global Warming and Gas Hydrate Type Locales

Methane hydrates occur in five geographic settings (or sectors) that must be individually evaluated to determine their susceptibility to warming climate (Figure 1). The percentages assigned to each sector below assume that 99% of global gas hydrate is within the deepwater marine realm (McIver 1981, Collett et al. 2009). Future refinements of the global ratio of marine to permafrost-associated gas hydrates will require adjustment of the assigned percentages. Owing to the orders of magnitude uncertainty in the estimated volume of CH4 trapped in global gas hydrate deposits, the percentages below have not been converted to Gt C.



Catastrophic, widespread dissociation of methane gas hydrates will not be triggered by continued climate warming at contemporary rates (0.2ºC per decade; IPCC 2007) over timescales of a few hundred years. Most of Earth’s gas hydrates occur at low saturations and in sediments at such great depths below the seafloor or onshore permafrost that they will barely be affected by warming over even 103 yr. Even when CH4 is liberated from gas hydrates, oxidative and physical processes may greatly reduce the amount that reaches the atmosphere as CH4. The CO2 produced by oxidation of CH4 released from dissociating gas hydrates will likely have a greater impact on the Earth system (e.g., on ocean chemistry and atmospheric CO2 concentrations; Archer et al. 2009) than will the CH4 that remains after passing through various sinks.

Contemporary and future gas hydrate degradation will occur primarily on the circum-Arctic Ocean continental shelves (Sector 2; Macdonald 1990, Lachenbruch et al. 1994, Maslin 2010), where subsea permafrost thawing and methane hydrate dissociation have been triggered by warming and inundation since Late Pleistocene time, and at the feather edge of the GHSZ on upper continental slopes (Sector 3), where the zone’s full thickness can dissociate rapidly due to modest warming of intermediate waters. More CH4 may be sequestered in upper continental slope gas hydrates than in those associated with subsea permafrost; however, CH4 that reaches the seafloor from dissociating Arctic Ocean shelf gas hydrates is much more likely to enter the atmosphere rapidly and as CH4, not CO2. Proof is still lacking that gas hydrate dissociation currently contributes to seepage from upper continental slopes or to elevated seawater CH4 concentrations on circum-Arctic Ocean shelves. An even greater challenge for the future is determining the contribution of global gas hydrate dissociation to contemporary and future atmospheric CH4 concentrations.


Nature Knowledge

The infamous photos, often posted by alarmists, of methane bubbling up from the Arctic sea floor and lake beds account for less than 1% of global methane hydrate deposits. These deposits are unstable in any temperature regime at depths of less than 200 m. They were already bubbling long before Al Gore invented CAGW.

Arctic Methane Time Bomb Defused

A substantial permafrost thaw above 60° N would require the Arctic to warm by more than 5°C relative to current conditions

A substantial destabilization of methane hydrate deposits is highly unlikely even with 20°C of warming relative to current conditions.

Arctic methane time bomb defused… QED.


McKay, J. L.; de Vernal, A.; Hillaire-Marcel, C.; Not, C.; Polyak, L.; Darby, D. (2008) Holocene fluctuations in Arctic sea-ice cover: dinocyst-based reconstructions for the eastern Chukchi Sea. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, Volume 45, Number 11, 2008 , pp. 1377-1397(21)

Miller, K.G., et al. (2005) The Phanerozoic Record of Global Sea-Level Change. Science. Vol. 310 no. 5752 pp. 1293-1298 DOI: 10.1126/science.1116412

Melles, M., J. Brigham-Grette, P.S. Minyuk, N.R. Nowaczyk, V. Wennrich (2012) 2.8 Million Years of Arctic Climate Change from Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Russia. Science. Vol. 337 no. 6092 pp. 315-320. DOI: 10.1126/science.1222135

Ruppel, C. D. (2011) Methane Hydrates and Contemporary Climate Change. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):29

Vaks, A., et al. (2013) Speleothems Reveal 500,000-Year History of Siberian Permafrost. Science. Vol. 340 no. 6129 pp. 183-186. DOI: 10.1126/science.1228729

Vogel, H., Meyer-Jacob, C., Melles, M., Brigham-Grette, J., Andreev, A. A., Wennrich, V., Tarasov, P. E., and Rosén, P.: Detailed insight into Arctic climatic variability during MIS 11c at Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Russia, Clim. Past, 9, 1467-1479, doi:10.5194/cp-9-1467-2013, 2013.

The Silver Anniversary of Hansen et al., 1988 and a Really Inconvenient Truth

September 24, 2013

It just dawned on me that August 20, 2013 was the 25th anniversary of Hansen et al., 1988, the model that keeps on giving!


Warming Plateau? Climatologists Face Inconvenient Truth
By Axel Bojanowski, Olaf Stampf and Gerald Traufetter

For a quarter of a century now, environmental activists have been issuing predictions in the vein of the Catholic Church, warning people of the coming greenhouse effect armageddon. Environmentalists bleakly predict global warming will usher in plagues of biblical dimensions — perpetual droughts, deluge-like floods and hurricanes of unprecedented force.

The number of people who believe in such a coming apocalypse, however, has considerably decreased. A survey conducted on behalf of SPIEGEL found a dramatic shift in public opinion — Germans are losing their fear of climate change.


One cause of this shift, presumably, is the fact that global warming seems to be taking a break. The average global temperature hasn’t risen in 15 years, a deviation from climatologists’ computer-simulated predictions.


Science vs. Climate Politics

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Research would prefer to leave any discussion of the global warming hiatus entirely out of the new IPCC report summary. “In climate research, changes don’t count until they’ve been observed on a timescale of 30 years,” claims one delegate participating in the negotiations on behalf of German Research Minister Johanna Wanka of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The Ministry for the Environment’s identical stance: “Climate fluctuations that don’t last very long are not scientifically relevant.”


Germany’s highest-ranking climate researcher, physicist Jochem Marotzke, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, in Hamburg, is fighting back against this refusal to face facts. Marotzke, who is also president of the German Climate Consortium and Germany’s top scientific representative in Stockholm, promises, “We will address this subject head-on.” The IPCC, he says, must engage in discussion about the standstill in temperature rise.

Marotzke calls the claim that a temperature plateau isn’t significant until it has lasted for over 30 years unscientific. “Thirty years is an arbitrarily selected number,” he says. “Some climate phenomena occur on a shorter timescale, some on a longer one.” Climate researchers, Marotzke adds, have an obligation not to environmental policy but to the truth. “That obligates us to clearly state the uncertainties in our predictions as well,” he says.

The researchers’ problem: Their climate models should have been able to predict the sudden flattening in the temperature curve. Offering explanations after the fact for why temperatures haven’t increased in so long only serves to raise doubts as to how reliable the forecasts really are.


Spiegel Online


2013 is the 25th anniversary of the first modern computer model to predict catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, Hansen et al., 1988

While the Gorebots prattle on about “changes don’t count until they’ve been observed on a timescale of 30 years”… 15 of the last 25 years have been inconsistent with their model and there has never been a 30-yr long “observation” of GHG-driven global warming.

Global Warming to Endanger Breakfast by 2080!!!

February 27, 2013

First it was wheat and now it’s coffee.  What’s next? Bacon & eggs?

This is nothing but alarmist nonsense…

Researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia looked at how climate change might make some land unsuitable for Arabica plants, which are highly vulnerable to temperature change and other dangers including pests and disease.

They came up with a best-case scenario that predicts a 38 per cent reduction in land capable of yielding Arabica by 2080. The worst-case scenario puts the loss at between 90 per cent and 100 per cent.

If global climate warming change disruption is likely to wipe out the most prevalent coffee bean in a few decades, the previous few hundred years of warming should have “left a mark” on global coffee production… Right?

I downloaded the latest HadCRUT4 temperature and Mauna Loa CO2 data from Wood for Trees and global coffee bean production from FAOSTAT and it appears that coffee bean trees like warmer temperatures…

And they really like a carbon dioxide-rich diet…

The “how climate change might make some land unsuitable” model was built from the IPCC’s totally bogus emissions scenarios. The modeled scenarios A1B, A2A and B2A.

The models say that “business as usual” will lead to A1-type scenarios (turn Earth into Venus and wipe out coffee). The models say that drastic cuts in carbon emissions are required to stay in the B2-type scenario range.

The actual data indicate that the B2-type scenario is the worst case possibility if we keep “business as usual”. 

Furthermore, HadCRUT4 shows absolutely no global warming since late 2000…

Now, if I take HadCRUT4 back to the beginning of 1997, I get this…

(Note: I built this graph back in November.)

Let’s look at the equation of the trend line:

y = 0.0048x – 9.2567

The key part of the equation is the number right before “x.” That’s what’s called the “slope” of the function. The slope is 0.0048 °C per year. This works out to about half-a-degree (0.5 °C) Celsius per century. For reference purposes, the IPCC “forecasted” 1.8 to 4.0 °C per century over the next 100 years, depending on their various socioeconomic scenarios. Here’s the real kicker… The IPCC “forecasted” 0.6 °C of warming over the next century in a scenario in which CO2 remains at the same level as it was in 2000. This is reminiscent of Hanson’s failed 1988 model. The IPCC forecast more warming in a steady-state CO2 world than has actually occurred since 1997.

Now let’s look at the “R²” value…

R² = 0.0334

R² is the “coefficient of determination.” It tells us how well the trend line fits the data. An R² of 1.0 would be a perfect fit. An R² of 0.0 would be no fit. 0.0334 is a lot closer to 0.0 than it is to 1.0. R² is related to explained variance. The linear trend line “explains” about 3.3% of the variation in the temperature data since 1997. 96.7% of the variation was due to natural climatic oscillations (quasi-periodic fluctuations, if you prefer) and stochastic variability.

The scenarios in which coffee beans *might* be threatened, “forecasted” 1.8 to 4.0 °C of warming in the 21st century based on “business as usual” carbon emissions. The actual warming since 1998 has been less than the scenario in which atmospheric CO2 levels stopped rising at the beginning of this century.

Data Sources:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO Statistics Division.  Coffee bean data downloaded on Feb. 27, 2013.

Hadley Centre.  HadCRUT4 tropical temperature data downloaded on February 27, 2013 from Wood for Trees.

NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.  Mauna Loa CO2 data downloaded on February 27, 2013 from Wood for Trees.

Mr. Bill Visits Byrd Station: Oh Noooooo!

December 26, 2012

First the breath-taking headlines…

  • Scientists Report Faster Warming in Antarctica, New York Times
  • West Antarctic Ice Sheet warming twice earlier estimate, BBC
  • West Antarctica warming much faster than previously believed, study finds, NBC
  • Western Antarctica is warming three times faster than the rest of the world, Grist

Oh noes out the wazzoo!!!

What could possibly have caused such an out-pouring of Mr. Bill impersonations?

Apparently this did…

Central West Antarctica among the most rapidly warming regions on Earth

David H. Bromwich,1, 5 Julien P. Nicolas,5, 1 Andrew J. Monaghan,2 Matthew A. Lazzara,3 Linda M. Keller,4 George A. Weidner4 & Aaron B. Wilson1
Nature Geoscience Year published: (2012) doi:10.1038/ngeo1671

Received02 May 2012 Accepted15 November 2012 Published online23 December 2012


There is clear evidence that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is contributing to sea-level rise. In contrast, West Antarctic temperature changes in recent decades remain uncertain. West Antarctica has probably warmed since the 1950s, but there is disagreement regarding the magnitude, seasonality and spatial extent of this warming. This is primarily because long-term near-surface temperature observations are restricted to Byrd Station in central West Antarctica, a data set with substantial gaps. Here, we present a complete temperature record for Byrd Station, in which observations have been corrected, and gaps have been filled using global reanalysis data and spatial interpolation. The record reveals a linear increase in annual temperature between 1958 and 2010 by 2.4±1.2 °C, establishing central West Antarctica as one of the fastest-warming regions globally.


Nature Geoscience

The manufactured “record reveals a linear increase in annual temperature between 1958 and 2010 by 2.4±1.2 °C.” That’s a 50% margin of error on the reconstruction that supposedly corrected the recording errors.

I haven’t purchased access to the paper (nor do I intend to); however, the freely available supplementary information includes a graph of their reconstructed temperature record for Byrd Station. It looks very similar to the NASA-GISS graph that doesn’t show any significant recent warming trend.

Figure 1. Bromwich et al., 2012 compared to the GHCN data.

The NASA-GISS data (GHCN & SCAR) for Byrd Station are in two segments: 1957-1975 and 1980-2012. The 1957-1975 series depicts a moderately significant (R² = 0.19) warming trend of about 1.0 °C per decade. The post-1980 series depicts a statistically insignificant (R² = 0.01) trend of 0.3 °C per decade.

Figure 2. Byrd Station temperature record from NASA-GISS (GCHN & SCAR, not homogenized).

Bromwich et al., 2012 get their 2.4 °C of warming from 1958-2010 (0.4 °C per decade) by stitching together the fragmented data sets. If I just combine the two NASA-GISS series, I get a trend of about 0.4 °C per decade…

Figure 3. Composite of NASA-GISS segments show no warming since 1991.

But, almost all of that warming took place before 1988. And Byrd Station has seen no warming (actually a slight cooling) since 1991.

Furthermore, the corrected temperature record of Bromwich et al., 2012 actually depicts more cooling since 1991 than the uncorrected data…

Figure 4. NASA-GISS temperature series overlaid on Bromwich et al., 2012 “corrected” temperature series (black curve). My Mk I eyeball analysis tells me that the corrected data actually show more cooling since 1991 than the uncorrected data.

A Brief History of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Record-Breaking

December 3, 2012

The World Meteorological Organization (I always think of Team America: World Police whenever “World” and “Organization” appear in the same title) recently announced that atmospheric greenhouse gases had once again set a new record.

Greenhouse gases reach another new record high!

Records are made to be broken

I wonder if the folks at the WMO are aware of the following three facts:

1)  The first “record high” CO2 level was set in 1809, at a time when cumulative anthropogenic carbon emissions had yet to exceed the equivalent of 0.2 ppmv CO2?


Figure 1. The Original CO2 “Hockey Stick.”  CO2 emissions data from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC).  The emissions (GtC) were divided by 2.13 to obtain ppmv CO2.

 2) From 1750 to 1875, atmospheric CO2 rose at ten times the rate of the cumulative anthropogenic emissions…


Figure 2. Where, oh where, did that CO2 come from?

3) Cumulative anthropogenic emissions didn’t “catch up” to the rise in atmospheric CO2 until 1960…


Figure 3. It took humans over 100 years to “catch up” to nature.

The emissions were only able to “catch up” because atmospheric CO2 levels stalled at ~312 ppmv from 1940-1955.

The mid-20th century decline in atmospheric CO2

The highest resolution Antarctic ice cores I am aware of come from Law Dome (Etheridge et al., 1998), particularly the DE08 core.  Over the past decade, the Law Dome ice core resolution has been improved through denser sampling and the application of frequency enhancing signal processing techniques (Trudinger et el., 2002 and MacFarling Meure et al., 2006).  Not surprisingly, the higher resolution data are indicating more variability in preindustrial CO2 levels. 

Plant stomata reconstructions (Kouwenberg et al., 2005, Finsinger and Wagner-Cremer, 2009) and contemporary chemical analyses (Beck, 2007) indicate that CO2 levels in the 1930′s to early 1940′s were in the 340 to 400 ppmv range and then declined sharply in the 1950′s. These findings have been rejected by the so-called scientific consensus because this fluctuation is not resolved in Antarctic ice cores.  However, MacFarling Meure et al., 2006 found possible evidence of a mid-20th Century CO2 decline in the DE08 ice core…

The stabilization of atmospheric CO2 concentration during the 1940s and 1950s is a notable feature in the ice core record. The new high density measurements confirm this result and show that CO2 concentrations stabilized at 310–312 ppm from ~1940–1955. The CH4 and N2O growth rates also decreased during this period, although the N2O variation is comparable to the measurement uncertainty. Smoothing due to enclosure of air in the ice (about 10 years at DE08) removes high frequency variations from the record, so the true atmospheric variation may have been larger than represented in the ice core air record. Even a decrease in the atmospheric CO2 concentration during the mid-1940s is consistent with the Law Dome record and the air enclosure smoothing, suggesting a large additional sink of ~3.0 PgC yr-1 [Trudinger et al., 2002a]. The d13CO2 record during this time suggests that this additional sink was mostly oceanic and not caused by lower fossil emissions or the terrestrial biosphere [Etheridge et al., 1996; Trudinger et al., 2002a]. The processes that could cause this response are still unknown.

[11] The CO2 stabilization occurred during a shift from persistent El Niño to La Niña conditions [Allan and D’Arrigo, 1999]. This coincided with a warm-cool phase change of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation [Mantua et al., 1997], cooling temperatures [Moberg et al., 2005] and progressively weakening North Atlantic thermohaline circulation [Latif et al., 2004]. The combined effect of these factors on the trace gas budgets is not presently well understood. They may be significant for the atmospheric CO2 concentration if fluxes in areas of carbon uptake, such as the North Pacific Ocean, are enhanced, or if efflux from the tropics is suppressed.

From about 1940 through 1955, approximately 24 billion tons of carbon went straight from the exhaust pipes into the oceans and/or biosphere.

Figure 4. Oh where, oh where did all that carbon go?

If oceanic uptake of CO2 caused ocean acidification, shouldn’t we see some evidence of it? Shouldn’t “a large additional sink of ~3.0 PgC yr-1″ (or more) from ~1940–1955 have left a mark somewhere in the oceans?  Maybe dissolved some snails or a reef?

Had atmospheric CO2 simply followed the preindustrial trajectory, it very likely would have reached 315-345 ppmv by 2010…

Figure 5. Natural sources probably account for 40-60% of the rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1750.

Oddly enough, plant stomata-derived CO2 reconstructions indicate that CO2 levels of 315-345 ppmv have not been uncommon throughout the Holocene…

Figure 6. CO2 from plant stomata: Northern Sweden (Finsinger et al., 2009), Northern Spain (Garcia-Amorena, 2008), Southern Sweden (Jessen, 2005), Washington State USA (Kouwenberg, 2004), Netherlands (Wagner et al., 1999), Denmark (Wagner et al., 2002).

So, what on Earth could have driven all of that CO2 variability before humans started burning fossil fuels?  Could it possibly have been temperature changes?  

CO2 as feedback

When I plot a NH temperature reconstruction (Moberg et al., 2005) along with the Law Dome CO2 record, it sure looks to me as if the CO2 started rising about 100 years after the temperature started rising…

Figure 7. Temperature reconstruction (Moberg et al., 2005) and Law Dome CO2 (MacFarling Meure et al., 2006)

The rise in CO2 from 1842-1945 looks a heck of a lot like the rise in temperature from 1750-1852…

Figure 8. Possible relationship between temperature increase and subsequent CO2 rise.

The correlation is very strong.  A calculated CO2 chronology yields a good match to the DE08 ice core and stomata-derived CO2 since 1850.  However, it indicates that atmospheric CO2 would have reached ~430 ppmv in the mid-12th century AD. 

Figure 9. CO2 calculated from Moberg temperatures (dark blue curve), Law Dome ice cores (magenta curve) and plant stomata (green, light blue and purple squares).

The mid-12th century peak in CO2 is not supported by either the ice cores or the plant stomata.   The correlation breaks down before the 1830′s.  However, the same break down also happens when CO2 is treated as forcing rather than feedback.  

CO2 as forcing

If I directly cross plot CO2 vs. temperature with no lag time, I get a fair correlation with the post DE08 core (>1833) data and no correlation at all with pre-DE08 core (<1833) data…

Figure 10.  Temperature and [CO2] have a moderate correlation since ~1833; but no correlation at all before 1833.

If I extrapolate out to about 840 ppmv CO2, I get about 3 °C of warming relative to 275 ppmv.  So, I get the same amount of warming for a tripling of preindustrial CO2 that the IPCC says we’ll get with a doubling.

Figure 11. CO2 from the Law Dome DE08 core plotted against Moberg’s NH temperature reconstruction.

Based on this correlation, the equilibrium climate sensitivity to a doubling of preindustrial CO2 is ~1.5 to 2.0 °C.  But, the total lack of a correlation in the ice cores older than DE08 is very puzzling.

Ice core resolution and the lack a CO2-temperature coupling before 1833

Could the lack of variability in the older (and deeper) cores have something to do with resolution?  The DE08 core is of far higher resolution than pretty well all of the other Antarctic ice cores, including the deeper and older DSS core from Law Dome.

Figure 12. The temporal resolution of ice cores is dictated by the snow accumulation rate.

The amplitude of the CO2 “signal” also appears to be well-correlated with the snow accumulation rate (resolution) of the ice cores…

Figure 13. Accumulation rate vs. CO2 for various ice cores from Antarctica and Greenland.

Could it be that snow accumulation rates significantly lower than 1 m/yr simply can’t resolve century-scale and higher frequency CO2 shifts?   Could it also be that the frequency degradation is also attenuating the amplitude of the CO2 “signal”?

If the vast majority of the ice cores older and deeper than DE08 can’t resolve century-scale and higher frequency CO2 shifts, doesn’t it make sense that ice core-derived CO2 and temperature would appear to be poorly coupled over most of the Holocene?

Why is it that the evidence always seems to indicate that the IPCC’s best case scenario is the worst that can happen in the real world?

Brad Plummer’s recent piece in the Washington Post featured a graph that caught my eye…

Figure 14. The IPCC’s mythical scenarios.  I think the shaded area represents the greentopian range.

It appears that a “business as usual” (A1FI) will turn Earth into Venus by 2100 AD. 

But, what happens if I use real data?

Let’s assume that the atmospheric CO2 level will rise along an exponential trend line until 2100.

Figure 15. CO2 projected to 560 ppmv by 2100.

I get a CO2 level of 560 ppmv, comparable to the IPCC SRES B2 emissions scenario…

Figure 16. IPCC emissions scenarios.

So, business as usual will likely lead to the same CO2 level as an IPCC greentopian scenario.  Why am I not surprised?

Assuming all of the warming since 1833 was caused by CO2 (it wasn’t), 560 ppmv will lead to about 1°C of additional warming by the year 2100.

Figure 17. Projected temperature rise derived from Moberg NH temperature reconstruction and Law Dome DE08 ice core CO2.
Projected Temp. Anom. = 2.6142 * ln(CO2) – 15.141

How does this compare with the IPCC’s mythical scenarios?  About as expected.  The worst case scenario based on actual observations is comparable to the IPCC’s best case, greentopian scenario…

Figure 18. Projected temperature rise derived from Moberg NH temperature reconstruction and Law Dome DE08 ice core CO2 indicates that the IPCC’s 2°C “limit” will not be exceeded.



  • Atmospheric CO2 concentration records were being broken long before anthropogenic emissions became significant.
  • Atmospheric CO2 levels were rising much faster than anthropogenic emissions from 1750-1875.
  • Anthropogenic emissions did not “catch up” to atmospheric CO2 until 1960.
  • The natural carbon flux is much more variable than the so-called scientific consensus thinks it is.
  • The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) cannot be more than 2°C and is probably closer to 1°C.
  • The worst-case scenario based on the evidence is comparable to the IPCC’s most greentopian, best-case scenario.
  • Ice cores with accumulation rates less than 1m/yr are not useful for ECS estimations.

The ECS derived from the Law Dome DE08 ice core and Moberg’s NH temperature reconstruction assumes that all of the warming since 1833 was due to CO2.  We know for a fact that at least half of the warming was due to solar influences and natural climatic oscillations.  So the derived 2°C is more likely to be 1°C.  Since it is clear that about half of the rise from 275 to 400 ppmv was natural, the anthropogenic component of that 1°C ECS is probably less than 0.7°C.

The lack of a correlation between temperature and CO2 from the start of the Holocene up until 1833 and the fact that the modern CO2 rise outpaced the anthropogenic emissions for about 200 years leads this amateur climate researcher to concluded that CO2 must have been a lot more variable over the last 10,000 years than the Antarctic ice core indicate.

Appendix I: Another Way to Look at the CO2 growth rate

In Figure 15 I used the Excel-calculated exponential trend line to extrapolate the MLO CO2 time series to the end of this century.  If I extrapolate the emissions and assume 55% of emissions remain in atmosphere, I get ~702 ppmv by the end of the century, with an additional 0.6°C of warming.  A total warming of 2.5°C above “preindustrial.”  Even this worse than worst case scenario results in about 1°C less warming than the A1B reference scenario.  It falls about mid-way between A1B and the top of the greentopian range.

Appendix II:  CO2 Records, the Early Years

Whenever CO2 records are mentioned or breathtaking pronouncements like, “Carbon dioxide at highest level in 800,000 years” are made, I always like to take a look at those “records” in a geological context.  The following graphs were generated from Bill Illis’ excellent collection of paleo-climate data.

Greenhouse gases reach another new record high! Or did they? The “Anthropocene” doesn’t look a heck of a lot different than the prior 25 million years… Apart from being a lot colder.

The “Anthropocene’s” CO2 “Hockey Stick” looks more like a needle in a haystack from a geological perspective. And it looks to me as if Earth might be on track to run out of CO2 in about 25 million years.

One of my all-time favorites! Note the total lack of correlation between CO2 and temperature throughout most of the Phanerozoic Eon.

In the following bar chart I grouped CO2 by geologic period.  The Cambrian through Cretaceous are drawn from Berner and Kothavala, 2001 (GEOCARB), the Tertiary is from Pagani, et al. 2006 (deep sea sediment cores), the Pleistocene is from Lüthi, et al. 2008 (EPICA C Antarctic ice core), the “Anthropocene” is from NOAA-ESRL (Mauna Loa Observatory) and the CO2 starvation is from Ward et al., 2005.

“Anthropocene” CO2 levels are a lot closer to the C3 plant starvation (Ward et al., 2005) range than they are to most of the prior 540 million years.

[SARC ON] I thought about including Venus on the bar chart; but I would have had to use a logarithmic scale. [SARC OFF]

Appendix III: Plant Stomata-Derived CO2

The catalogue of peer-reviewed papers demonstrating higher and more variable preindustrial CO2 levels is quite impressive and growing.  Here are a few highlights:

Wagner et al., 1999. Century-Scale Shifts in Early Holocene Atmospheric CO2 Concentration. Science 18 June 1999: Vol. 284 no. 5422 pp. 1971-1973

In contrast to conventional ice core estimates of 270 to 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv), the stomatal frequency signal suggests that early Holocene carbon dioxide concentrations were well above 300 ppmv.


Most of the Holocene ice core records from Antarctica do not have adequate temporal resolution.


Our results falsify the concept of relatively stabilized Holocene CO2 concentrations of 270 to 280 ppmv until the industrial revolution. SI-based CO2 reconstructions may even suggest that, during the early Holocene, atmospheric CO2 concentrations that were .300 ppmv could have been the rule rather than the exception.

The ice cores cannot resolve CO2 shifts that occur over periods of time shorter than twice the bubble enclosure period. This is basic signal theory. The assertion of a stable pre-industrial 270-280 ppmv is flat-out wrong.

McElwain et al., 2001. Stomatal evidence for a decline in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the Younger Dryas stadial: a comparison with Antarctic ice core records. J. Quaternary Sci., Vol. 17 pp. 21–29. ISSN 0267-8179…

It is possible that a number of the short-term fluctuations recorded using the stomatal methods cannot be detected in ice cores, such as Dome Concordia, with low ice accumulation rates. According to Neftel et al. (1988), CO2 fluctuation with a duration of less than twice the bubble enclosure time (equivalent to approximately 134 calendar yr in the case of Byrd ice and up to 550 calendar yr in Dome Concordia) cannot be detected in the ice or reconstructed by deconvolution.

Not even the highest resolution ice cores, like Law Dome, have adequate resolution to correctly image the MLO instrumental record.

Kouwenberg et al., 2005. Atmospheric CO2 fluctuations during the last millennium reconstructed by stomatal frequency analysis of Tsuga heterophylla needles. Geology; January 2005; v. 33; no. 1; p. 33–36…

The discrepancies between the ice-core and stomatal reconstructions may partially be explained by varying age distributions of the air in the bubbles because of the enclosure time in the firn-ice transition zone. This effect creates a site-specific smoothing of the signal (decades for Dome Summit South [DSS], Law Dome, even more for ice cores at low accumulation sites), as well as a difference in age between the air and surrounding ice, hampering the construction of well-constrained time scales (Trudinger et al., 2003).

Stomatal reconstructions are reproducible over at least the Northern Hemisphere, throughout the Holocene and consistently demonstrate that the pre-industrial natural carbon flux was far more variable than indicated by the ice cores.

Wagner et al., 2004. Reproducibility of Holocene atmospheric CO2 records based on stomatal frequency. Quaternary Science Reviews. 23 (2004) 1947–1954…

The majority of the stomatal frequency-based estimates of CO 2 for the Holocene do not support the widely accepted concept of comparably stable CO2 concentrations throughout the past 11,500 years. To address the critique that these stomatal frequency variations result from local environmental change or methodological insufficiencies, multiple stomatal frequency records were compared for three climatic key periods during the Holocene, namely the Preboreal oscillation, the 8.2 kyr cooling event and the Little Ice Age. The highly comparable fluctuations in the paleo-atmospheric CO2 records, which were obtained from different continents and plant species (deciduous angiosperms as well as conifers) using varying calibration approaches, provide strong evidence for the integrity of leaf-based CO2 quantification.

The Antarctic ice cores lack adequate resolution because the firn densification process acts like a low-pass filter.

Van Hoof et al., 2005. Atmospheric CO2 during the 13th century AD: reconciliation of data from ice core measurements and stomatal frequency analysis. Tellus 57B (2005), 4…

Atmospheric CO2 reconstructions are currently available from direct measurements of air enclosures in Antarctic ice and, alternatively, from stomatal frequency analysis performed on fossil leaves. A period where both methods consistently provide evidence for natural CO2 changes is during the 13th century AD. The results of the two independent methods differ significantly in the amplitude of the estimated CO2 changes (10 ppmv ice versus 34 ppmv stomatal frequency). Here, we compare the stomatal frequency and ice core results by using a firn diffusion model in order to assess the potential influence of smoothing during enclosure on the temporal resolution as well as the amplitude of the CO2 changes. The seemingly large discrepancies between the amplitudes estimated by the contrasting methods diminish when the raw stomatal data are smoothed in an analogous way to the natural smoothing which occurs in the firn.

The derivation of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) to atmospheric CO2 is largely based on Antarctic ice cores. The problem is that the temperature estimates are based on oxygen isotope ratios in the ice itself; while the CO2 estimates are based on gas bubbles trapped in the ice.

The temperature data are of very high resolution. The oxygen isotope ratios are functions of the temperature at the time of snow deposition. The CO2 data are of very low and variable resolution because it takes decades to centuries for the gas bubbles to form. The CO2 values from the ice cores represent average values over many decades to centuries. The temperature values have annual to decadal resolution.

The highest resolution Antarctic ice core is the DE08 core from Law Dome.

The IPCC and so-called scientific consensus assume that it can resolve annual changes in CO2. But it can’t. Each CO2 value represents a roughly 30-yr average and not an annual value. 

If you smooth the Mauna Loa instrumental record (red curve) and plant stomata-derived pre-instrumental CO2 (green curve) with a 30-yr filter, they tie into the Law Dome DE08 ice core (light blue curve) quite nicely…

The deeper DSS core (dark blue curve) has a much lower temporal resolution due to its much lower accumulation rate and compaction effects. It is totally useless in resolving century scale shifts, much less decadal shifts.

The IPCC and so-called scientific consensus correctly assume that resolution is dictated by the bubble enclosure period. However, they are incorrect in limiting the bubble enclosure period to the sealing zone. In the case of the core DE08 they assume that they are looking at a signal with a 1 cycle/1 yr frequency, sampled once every 8-10 years. The actual signal has a 1 cycle/30-40 yr frequency, sampled once every 8-10 years.

30-40 ppmv shifts in CO2 over periods less than ~60 years cannot be accurately resolved in the DE08 core. That’s dictated by basic signal theory. Wagner et al., 1999 drew a very hostile response from the so-called scientific consensus. All Dr. Wagner-Cremer did to them was to falsify one little hypothesis…

In contrast to conventional ice core estimates of 270 to 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv), the stomatal frequency signal suggests that early Holocene carbon dioxide concentrations were well above 300 ppmv.


Our results falsify the concept of relatively stabilized Holocene CO2 concentrations of 270 to 280 ppmv until the industrial revolution. SI-based CO2 reconstructions may even suggest that, during the early Holocene, atmospheric CO2 concentrations that were >300 ppmv could have been the rule rather than the exception (⁠23⁠).

The plant stomata pretty well prove that Holocene CO2 levels have frequently been in the 300-350 ppmv range and occasionally above 400 ppmv over the last 10,000 years.

The incorrect estimation of a 3°C ECS to CO2 is almost entirely driven the assumption that preindustrial CO2 levels were in the 270-280 ppmv range, as indicated by the Antarctic ice cores.

The plant stomata data clearly show that preindustrial atmospheric CO2 levels were much higher and far more variable than indicated by Antarctic ice cores. Which means that the rise in atmospheric CO2 since the 1800′s is not particularly anomalous and at least half of it is due to oceanic and biosphere responses to the warm-up from the Little Ice Age.

Kouwenberg concluded that the CO2 maximum ca. 450 AD was a local anomaly because it could not be correlated to a temperature rise in the Mann & Jones, 2003 reconstruction.

As the Earth’s climate continues to not cooperate with their models, the so-called consensus will eventually recognize and acknowledge their fundamental error. Hopefully we won’t have allowed decarbonization zealotry to bankrupt us beforehand.

Until the paradigm shifts, all estimates of the pre-industrial relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature derived from Antarctic ice cores will be wrong, because the ice core temperature and CO2 time series are of vastly different resolutions. And until the “so-called consensus” gets the signal processing right, they will continue to get it wrong.


Anklin, M., J. Schwander, B. Stauffer, J. Tschumi, A. Fuchs, J.M. Barnola, and D. Raynaud. 1997. CO2 record between 40 and 8kyr B.P. from the Greenland Ice Core Project ice core. Journal of Geophysical Research 102:26539-26545.

Barnola et al. 1987. Vostok ice core provides 160,000-year record of atmospheric CO2.
Nature, 329, 408-414.

Berner, R.A. and Z. Kothavala, 2001.  GEOCARB III: A Revised Model of Atmospheric CO2 over Phanerozoic Time, American Journal of Science, v.301, pp.182-204, February 2001.

Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres. 2012. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2012

Etheridge, D.M., L.P. Steele, R.L. Langenfelds, R.J. Francey, J.-M. Barnola and V.I. Morgan. 1998. Historical CO2 records from the Law Dome DE08, DE08-2, and DSS ice cores. In Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A.

Finsinger, W. and F. Wagner-Cremer. Stomatal-based inference models for reconstruction of atmospheric CO2 concentration: a method assessment using a calibration and validation approach. The Holocene 19,5 (2009) pp. 757–764

Fischer, H. A Short Primer on Ice Core Science. Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern.

Garcıa-Amorena, I., F. Wagner-Cremer, F. Gomez Manzaneque, T. B. van Hoof, S. Garcıa Alvarez, and H. Visscher. 2008. CO2 radiative forcing during the Holocene Thermal Maximum revealed by stomatal frequency of Iberian oak leaves. Biogeosciences Discussions 5, 3945–3964, 2008.

Illis, B.  2009. Searching the PaleoClimate Record for Estimated Correlations: Temperature, CO2 and Sea Level. Watts Up With That?

Indermühle A., T.F. Stocker, F. Joos, H. Fischer, H.J. Smith, M. Wahlen, B. Deck, D. Mastroianni, J. Tschumi, T. Blunier, R. Meyer, B. Stauffer, 1999, Holocene carbon-cycle dynamics based on CO2 trapped in ice at Taylor Dome, Antarctica. Nature 398, 121-126.

Jessen, C. A., Rundgren, M., Bjorck, S. and Hammarlund, D. 2005. Abrupt climatic changes and an unstable transition into a late Holocene Thermal Decline: a multiproxy lacustrine record from southern Sweden. J. Quaternary Sci., Vol. 20 pp. 349–362. ISSN 0267-8179.

Kouwenberg, LLR. 2004. Application of conifer needles in the reconstruction of Holocene CO2 levels. PhD Thesis. Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, University of Utrecht.

Kouwenberg, LLR, Wagner F, Kurschner WM, Visscher H (2005) Atmospheric CO2 fluctuations during the last millennium reconstructed by stomatal frequency analysis of Tsuga heterophylla needles. Geology 33:33–36

Ljungqvist, F.C.2009. Temperature proxy records covering the last two millennia: a tabular and visual overview. Geografiska Annaler: Physical Geography, Vol. 91A, pp. 11-29.

Ljungqvist, F.C. 2010. A new reconstruction of temperature variability in the extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere during the last two millennia. Geografiska Annaler: Physical Geography, Vol. 92 A(3), pp. 339-351, September 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0459.2010.00399.x

Lüthi, D., M. Le Floch, B. Bereiter, T. Blunier, J.-M. Barnola,  U. Siegenthaler, D. Raynaud, J. Jouzel, H. Fischer, K. Kawamura,  and T.F. Stocker.  2008. High-resolution carbon dioxide concentration record 650,000-800,000 years before present. Nature, Vol. 453, pp. 379-382, 15 May 2008.  doi:10.1038/nature06949

MacFarling Meure, C., D. Etheridge, C. Trudinger, P. Steele, R. Langenfelds, T. van Ommen, A. Smith, and J. Elkins (2006), Law Dome CO2, CH4 and N2O ice core records extended to 2000 years BP, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L14810, doi:10.1029/2006GL026152.

McElwain et al., 2001. Stomatal evidence for a decline in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the Younger Dryas stadial: a comparison with Antarctic ice core records. J. Quaternary Sci., Vol. 17 pp. 21–29. ISSN 0267-8179

Moberg, A., D.M. Sonechkin, K. Holmgren, N.M. Datsenko and W. Karlén. 2005.
Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data. Nature, Vol. 433, No. 7026, pp. 613-617, 10 February 2005.

Morice, C.P., J.J. Kennedy, N.A. Rayner, P.D. Jones (2011), Quantifying uncertainties in global and regional temperature change using an ensemble of observational estimates: the HadCRUT4 dataset, Journal of Geophysical Research, accepted.

Pagani, M., J.C. Zachos, K.H. Freeman, B. Tipple, and S. Bohaty. 2005. Marked Decline in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations During the Paleogene. Science, Vol. 309, pp. 600-603, 22 July 2005.

Rundgren et al., 2005. Last interglacial atmospheric CO2 changes from stomatal index data and their relation to climate variations. Global and Planetary Change 49 (2005) 47–62.

Smith, H. J., Fischer, H., Mastroianni, D., Deck, B. and Wahlen, M., 1999, Dual modes of the carbon cycle since the Last Glacial Maximum.  Nature 400, 248-250.

Trudinger, C. M., I. G. Enting, P. J. Rayner, and R. J. Francey (2002), Kalman filter analysis of ice core data 2. Double deconvolution of CO2 and δ13C measurements, J. Geophys. Res., 107(D20), 4423, doi:10.1029/2001JD001112.

Van Hoof et al., 2005. Atmospheric CO2 during the 13th century AD: reconciliation of data from ice core measurements and stomatal frequency analysis. Tellus 57B (2005), 4

Wagner F, et al., 1999. Century-scale shifts in Early Holocene CO2 concentration. Science 284:1971–1973.

Wagner F, Aaby B, Visscher H, 2002. Rapid atmospheric CO2 changes associated with the 8200-years-B.P. cooling event. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:12011–12014.

Wagner F, Kouwenberg LLR, van Hoof TB, Visscher H, 2004. Reproducibility of Holocene atmospheric CO2 records based on stomatal frequency. Quat Sci Rev 23:1947–1954

Ward, J.K., Harris, J.M., Cerling, T.E., Wiedenhoeft, A., Lott, M.J., Dearing, M.-D., Coltrain, J.B. and Ehleringer, J.R.  2005.  Carbon starvation in glacial trees recovered from the La Brea tar pits, southern California.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 102: 690-694.

The Atlantic Magazine’s “5 Charts About Climate Change That Should Have You Very, Very Worried”… Worried about scientific illiteracy.

November 27, 2012

I ran into this gem on Real Clear Energy this morning…

Figure 1. The only thing to worry about here is the scientific and mathematical illiteracy of the authors of this article.

The article cites terrifying new reports commissioned by the World Bank and the CIA and then launches into a graphical cornucopia of nonsense.


Frankenstorm-steria: Five degrees of Separation from Reality and Eleventy Gazillion Joules Under the Sea

November 2, 2012

 I ran across this really bizarre blog post from “The Energy Collective” on Real Clear Energy…

This bit is just “nutty”…

Five degrees:

The Atlantic ocean is five degrees warmer than is was when most of you were born. Let that sink in for a minute. The entire Atlantic ocean averages five degrees warmer.

What does that mean for hurricanes? Hurricanes get their power by feeding on the warm water under them. That means that a warmer Atlantic has a lot more fuel to contribute. How much more? Hard to say for sure but the the number is astronomical. Take the top inch of ocean surface below hurricane Katrina (125,000 sq. miles) then run out the math to heat that volume by five degrees. What you get is an amount of energy in that water eight times greater than was released in all the nuclear tests in the history of the world.


“The Atlantic ocean is five degrees warmer than is was when most of you were born.” Really?
I was born in 1958. I don’t have a handy temperature plot of the Atlantic Ocean, but the folks a the UK Hadley Center & Climategate CRU do have a plot of Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperatures. If the Atlantic has warmed by 5 degrees since 1958, it should show up on this plot, unless the North Pacific Ocean has been cooling…

Figure 1. HadSST Northern Hemisphere (Hadley/CRU via Wood for Trees)

I get a warming of 0.3-0.5°C since I was born… And only about 0.6°C of warming since the last time a Whig held the presidency…

Figure 2. HadSST… What five degrees?

The author noted that, “We’ve only been aware that the earth revolves around the sun for some 500 years.” This is true. It’s also true that New England was hit by at least four storms, rivaling Sandy, between 1300 and 1650 AD. But our temperature records only go back to about 1850.

Fortunately, there are little critters living in the oceans called “Foraminifera,” or Foram’s as we tend to call them in oil exploration. Foram’s have the capacity to act as geochemical thermometers. Globigerinoides ruber is a particularly good geochemical thermometer. Back in 1996, Lloyd Keigwin of WHOI published a really good paper in which he reconstructed a 3,000-yr record of the sea surface temperature of the Sargasso Sea.

Keigwin was able to calibrate his proxy temperature series to a 50-yr long instrumental record (Station S). Station S matches the HadSST NH quite well…

Figure 3. HadSST and Sargasso Sea Station S (Keigwin, 1996)

If we add in the Foram proxy record, we can see how warm the Atlantic Ocean was back when those pre-1650 monster storms hit New England…

Figure 4. HadSST, Sargasso Sea (Keigwin, 1996) and Major New England Hurricanes (Donnelly, 2001)

The 1351 AD (±56-yr) storm occurred when the Atlantic was most likely a bit cooler as when I was born. The 1425 (±21-yr) storm occurred when the Atlantic was most likely a bit warmer than I was born. The 1635 and 1638 storms occurred when the Atlantic was a lot cooler than when I was born. And the 1815 storm occurred when the Atlantic was a bit cooler than when I was born.

It appears to me that the climatological state of the Atlantic Ocean hasn’t really been a controlling factor in the frequency of major storms hitting New England. If a climatologically warm Atlantic was the cause of these monster storms, the Medieval Warm Period must have been a veritable hurricane nightmare…

Figure 5. HadSST, Sargasso Sea (Keigwin, 1996) and Major New England Hurricanes (Donnelly, 2001)

And the Minoan Warm Period must have been an absolute hurricane apocalypse, even though the Atlantic was only about 2°C warmer than when I was born.

Well, that’s enough on the “five degrees”… On to the really nutty bit…

Gazillions of joules!

A five degree rise for just the first inch of ocean, for a static area 900 miles in diameter (the size of hurricane Sandy) requires 95-million terajoules of energy. If we assume it gets used the most efficiently it can be, a ton of coal gets you about 35 gigajoules. That means we’d need a cube of coal .9 of a mile/side to generate the energy needed to heat just that first inch of water five degrees. All that energy is a fraction of the heat being trapped, just a fraction. We’re going to see a lot more storms get charged up this way.

The best way to alarm the scientifically illiterate is to convert 0.8°C into eleventy gazillion joules.

Ocean Heat Content for the upper 700 meters of the oceans increased by about 16 gazillion (10^22) Joules over the last 40 years or so! 16 gazillion is a huge number! Unfortunately for Warmists, 16 gazillion is a very tiny number relative to the volume of the top 700 meters of the oceans and the heat content that normally resides in the oceans…

Figure 6. Change in Ocean Heat Content from Levitus et al., 2009 via Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations (

16 gazillion Joules is enough heat to increase the average temperature of the upper 700 meters of ocean by a whopping 0.168 degrees Centigrade.

The average temperature of the upper 700 meters of ocean is somewhere in the ballpark of 10 degrees Centigrade…

Figure 7. Approximate average oceanic thermocline (Windows to the Universe).

How much heat content is required to raise the temperature of the upper 700 meters of ocean from 0 to 10 degrees Centigrade?

A bit less than 950 gazillion Joules.

16 gazillion is less than 2% of 950 gazillion.

More fun with gazillions of Joules

This is a graph from a Skeptical Science post…

Figure 8. An unreliable representation of recent changes in Earth’s total heat content (Skeptical Science).

Frightening, right?

In addition to lacking any context, the title of the graph is amazingly and ignorantly wrong. There’s a lot more to the Earth than water, ice and air… There’s that whole solid(ish) thing in the middle.

The heat flow at the surface (the coolest part of the solid Earth) of the Earth is ~47 Terawatts (TW). A Joule is 1 Watt*second of power. 47 TW is 47,000,000,000,000 joules per second (47*10^12 J/s). Over the 40-yr period (1969-2008) the Earth’s heat flow transferred 6 gazillion (10^12) Joules of heat from the interior to the surface. That 6 gazillion is a very tiny fraction of the total heat content of the Earth (~12,600,000,000 gazillion Joules). So the SkepSci graph doesn’t even come close to capturing the “change in the Earth’s total heat content.”

Here’s a little more context… Unsurprisingly, ocean heat content and sea surface temperature are highly correlated…

Figure 9. Cross-plot of ocean heat content (Levitus, 2009) and sea surface temperature (Hadley/CRU via Wood for Trees).

So, we can very easily estimate OHC from SST to see what the OHC was
doing before we started measuring it…

Figure 10. Historical ocean heat content calculated from HadSST and OHC (Levitus, 2009).

Wow!!! The OHC had to have increased by 13 gazillion Joules from 1910-1941. How did that happen? CO2 was mired in the “safe” range of 310-320 ppmv (assuming Antarctic ice cores are accurate sources of paleo-CO2 data).

Hurricane Sandy’s Unprecedented Storm Surge

October 31, 2012

Funny thing… Hurricane Sandy’s unprecedented storm surge was likely surpassed in the New England hurricanes of 1635 and 1638. From 1635 through 1954, New England was hit by at least five hurricanes producing greater than 3 m storm surges in New England.  Analysis of sediment cores led to the conclusion “that at least seven hurricanes of intensity sufficient to produce storm surge capable of overtopping the barrier beach (>3 m) at Succotash Marsh have made landfall in southern New England in the past 700 yr.”  All seven of those storms occurred prior to 1960.

Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy’s estimated maximum storm surge compared to historical storm surges in southern New England (Donnelly et al., 2001)

Even funnier thing… The 1635 and 1638 hurricanes occurred before Al Gore invented global warming…

Figure 2. Storm surges of Hurricane Sandy and southern New England (right y-axis) plotted with HadCRUT3 and Moberg et al., 2005 northern hemisphere temperature reconstructions.

Even more funny thing… The 1600′s were the coldest century of the last two millennia…

Figure 3. HadCRUT3 and Ljungqvist, 2009 northern hemisphere temperature reconstructions.

But the funniest thing is that the 1600′s were possibly the coldest century of the Holocene since the 8.2 KYA Cooling Event…

Figure 4. Central Greenland temperature reconstruction (after Alley, 2000).

Disclaimer: I’m not implying that Hurricane (AKA post-tropical cyclone) Sandy or its devastating effects on millions of people are funny. I’m only saying that efforts to link this storm to global warming are .


Donnelly, Jeffrey P.; et al. (2001). “700 yr Sedimentary Record of Intense Hurricane Landfalls in Southern New England”.
Geological Society of America Bulletin 113 (6): 714–727.

Moberg, A., D.M. Sonechkin, K. Holmgren, N.M. Datsenko and W. Karlén. 2005.
Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data.
Nature, Vol. 433, No. 7026, pp. 613-617, 10 February 2005.

A Different Take on the “Hottest Month on Record.”

August 21, 2012

Figure 1. Hottest Month on Record!!!

NCDC Releases July 2012 U.S. Monthly Climate Report: July 2012 Marked the Hottest Month on Record for the Contiguous United States.”  

The headline was, of course accompanied by nonsense like this

Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro (Twitter) says, “Exceeding July 1936 at the peak of the Dust Bowl heat — is BIG.”



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