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back to article CO2 warms Earth FASTER than previously thought

The time lag between increased quantities of CO2 reaching or leaving the atmosphere and global temperature change may be far shorter than previously thought, according to a new paper, Tightened constraints on the time-lag between Antarctic temperature and CO2 during the last deglaciation published this week by Climate of the …

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Relax...

It's only a computer model.

And the sound of drunken Aussies plugging their dying Global Warming meme again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Relax...

The first of what I expect to be many one-sided posts has already arrived.

There will be those who say there is nothing to worry about (see comment above), and there will be those who say things are going horribly wrong (see comments below - soon). Neither group really knows the truth because more research is still needed.

What we have here is a study which looked at cores from multiple locations in a way that hasn't been done before, and in doing so it brings us a bit closer to knowing the truth: this study should therefore be welcomed by all.

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Re: Relax...

The first post? Flippin' hell.

I'm an AGW agnostic. I'm not sure if the science is right or not. I'm not sure if things will be as bad as they say. But neither am I an expert on stats, climate, ecology, computer modelling or any number of other related disciplines.

What is the risk of being wrong? What is the risk of doing what is suggested?

1) We are, as a species, dead. The environment is so loopy that we can't grow enough food and die off. On the scale of "Bad things" that's up around eleventy-billion. It's really is not good.

Or

2) We develop new technologies, better integrate public transport, create new jobs (lose others jobs), pollute less, live with natural rhythms more, stop exploiting people in the third world, reduce our dependency on energy imports, have cleaner water, less particulates in the air and thus less lung issues...the list goes on. Yes there will be problems and yes it might not be necessary. But in the great scheme of things - it's no big.

I put it to you - outcome 2) on it's own is a "Good Thing"(tm) regardless of AGW or not. So why are people so deathly afraid of option 2)? You don't have to go and live in a hut or anything. A bit of insulation, recycling, water-butt and other simple measures are a start. It's really not that hard.

You wouldn't shit where you sleep, yet that is exactly what we are doing on a global scale; and that simply cannot be sustained.

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Re: Relax...

The 3 core thingy is more illusionist distraction. The heart of the research is still the computer model they feel is more accurate than those previously used.

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Re: Relax...@ Big Yin

1) We are, as a species, dead. The environment is so loopy that we can't grow enough food and die off. On the scale of "Bad things" that's up around eleventy-billion. It's really is not good.

Oh really? How exactly? Or are you making a wild overstatement? If only 10% of the worlds population lives near enough to sea level to be killed by a 10 METER rise (disclaimer wikipedia) then the other 90% are all right. Lets be pessimistic and suggest extreme weather pattersn and their impacts will kill another 40%.

Will it be a global disaster - on the individual level absolutely - will it be the end of our species - NO!

You do realise the the human race has be brought to the brink faster before than any climate change can possibly act - and survived - See black death, flu pandemics etc. Yet Im willing to be we are spending a fraction of the money on pandemic research that we are spending on climate change and its various costs.

Lets just keep some perspective eh?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Relax...@ Big Yin

@Gordon 10 - Something like 90% of the world's population lives near the coast, look at major world cities, they're pretty much all costal.

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Re: Relax...@ Big Yin

Fortunately living near the coast and living less than 10m above sea level are not synonymous.

Have a look at http://flood.firetree.net/ where you could dial in sea level rise and see the effect. I was slightly stunned to realise even a 13m rise would leave my village untouched given that between us and the sea is just a couple of miles of reclaimed salt marsh.

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Re: Relax...

BigYin: "I'm an AGW agnostic"

But as the rest of your comment makes clear, you think humans are evil and we mess up the one thing that matters, Mother Nature. This worries you more than infant mortality rates or poverty - things that make human life crappy.

BigYin: "live with natural rhythms more"

Mate: I've got some crystals to sell you.

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Re: Relax...

But as the rest of your comment makes clear, you think humans are evil

And lo! A straw man did descend from upon high and claimed himself lord! The good people, knowing his form, did set fire to him and burned his fallacy unto the ground.

we mess up the one thing that matters, Mother Nature

Well now, y'see that's where I'm a bit of an agnostic on the whole thing. Is it AGW? Or is it just GW? Are we making it worse? Or better? Will it be as dreadful as for told, or just a bit uncomfortable? Either way, I'm happier to take steps that might just keep things in a zone that suits us best. Oh whoops - does that make me evil?

This worries you more than infant mortality rates or poverty - things that make human life crappy.

But behold! Upon seeing the ashes of the straw man on the ground; the great beast False Dichotomy did raise his head and roar! Only for the good people the rip out the beast's tongue and stab it to death.

You know what could cause a massive rise in infant mortality? Crop failure. Drought. Guess what AGW is being fingered for...oh my yes; that and more.

And by "[living] with natural rhythms more" I meant more eating locally (i.e. seasonally), wasting less, and generally reducing our footprint from all that (plus a bit more).

I put it to you that struggle of resources will cause more infant mortality and increase poverty more than trying to solve the potential problem. Why are you so afraid of option 2)? Is it because you would have sacrifice? Not some nameless poor bastard in Botswana? Is it because you (and if you are posting here, you are probably one of the richest people on the planet, with one the highest standards of living and life expectancy; i.e. you are a Westerner or in the developed East) might have to pay a teensy-weensy, ickle-wickle little more for that cafa-mocha-latte?

But it's me who some kind of human-hater simply because I don't want to shit where I sleep and mess up my only home.

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jdv

Re: Relax...@ Big Yin

Oh. Well, that's all right, then.

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Re: Relax...@ Big Yin

Sure, no worries, my building is less than 50m from the waterfront, at the bottom of a steep slope... apparently a 13m rise would leave it dry. I think the low resolution of their data might lead to misleading results.

Anyway, on the 23rd floor, I'll be way above it.

(note to self:

1. Check foundation resistance to erosion

2. Check slope landslip risk

3. Buy a dinghy )

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High resolution

"Utilising a recently developed proxy for regional Antarctic temperature, derived

10 from five near-coastal ice cores, and two ice core CO2 records"

What was the selection process seems like a small sample set.

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Re: High resolution

You must realise that in climate science you always select the data sets that give the desired results and abandon all others.

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Re: High resolution

Have you any idea how much time and expense goes into collecting an ice core? Especially in Antarctica you are constrained by time, the short summer, funding, as well as the capacity of the refrigerated lockers in the transport to bring those cores back to somewhere with the lab facilities to properly analyse them. 5 or 10 cores is a very decent sample provided they're taken from a stable site where the ice has built up consistently and not melted/re-frozen or been otherwise contaminated or compromised. To get the deep cores you can be drilling for quite some time to go back a few thousand years. Given the expense of getting to Antarctica, driving or flying a drill rig to the selected site, camping and being supported at that site, and then getting the cores back uncompromised, they tend to be at a bit of a premium.

Also bear in mind this is refining work that was probably done using different ice cores, so the total ice cores used in the overall development of this paper will be higher.

The selection process was probably "the ones that were available". One can't be picky when you're looking at data sources of this value and rarity.

As an oceanography student my dissertation on currents in a bit of the English Channel started off by describing the experiment that I'd like to do, and then went on to describe the buoys I would actually be getting data off and their limitations for the task at hand. Obviously most BSc students do not have a 7-figure budget with to go and deploy their own monitoring array for their dissertation, although I did get to play with someone else's non-ideal 7-figure array.

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Re: High resolution

Perhaps 5 to 10 cores is a good sample, but even if that's so you should still be concerned about the selection process. If they just used all the cores they had access to, that's fine, state that. If they had 50 cores available and just picked 5 to 10 by a completely random method, that's also fine, but they should explain the difficulties involved in using more/all or why 5 to 10 is good enough.

On the other hand, if they had 50 cores available and looked at 20-25 during the course of their research but only used 5-10 in their published paper, then you should be very curious why they decided to eliminate the others. You should also ask how different the results might have been if an AGW denier had access to the same set of 20-25 using the same model and getting to pick his own 5-10. Maybe it makes little difference, but it's possible being able to select the cores makes a very large difference in terms of getting the conclusion you wish to reach. Since ice cores most likely would tend to be taken near coasts or research stations, perhaps there aren't and never will be 50 well geographically dispersed samples available, but this in itself is another potential source of bias you may wish to note.

I'm not suggesting they picked their samples to reach a desired conclusion, but given how politically charged the debate is, researchers on both sides would ideally look very closely at their research from the point of view of those who wish to tear it down, and use methodology and provide information to make it as bulletproof to such attacks as possible. Going that extra mile would provide a good signpost to determine which research those who aren't doing it themselves should give extra weight to, versus research targeting a predetermined outcome.

Because like it or not, there is plenty of such research on both sides of the debate already being done. Since we wouldn't usually find out what's being funded by Greenpeace and what's being funded by the Koch Brothers, making research as difficult to come up with viable attacks on seems the best way of getting yours heard above all the noise. At least in theory. In practice, making research that takes extreme ("we're on the edge of disaster!") or controversial ("nothing humans could ever do will change the climate in any way") positions makes for better headlines. They are also probably more likely to be adopted by politicians who may base their decisions on which side they support on many factors, but science or lack of science is almost never one of them.

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Reg author seems to have misunderstood paper...

Errr, "lagged" means "came after," not "came before," so your article title should be "Increased earth temperature boosts CO2 faster than previously thought".

(hope I'm not wrong here, not having read the paper myself...)

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Headmaster

Re: Reg author seems to have misunderstood paper...

Unless the article has been re-written, "lag" here refers to the reaction time between increased CO2 (the cause) and the increase in temp (the effect). In the same way there's a lag between you reading the article, and comprehending what the author means.

:-D

PEACE!

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Stop

Re: Reg author seems to have misunderstood paper...

Asiren,

Nope, if you read the article (and are somewhat familiar with paleo temp and atmosphere data), "lag" refers to the delay between increased or decreased global temperatures and the changes in CO2 concentration that *follow*. Check it out, read my more complete description below, or read the paper itself.

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Coat

Re: Reg author seems to have misunderstood paper...

My bad. I was going by the use in the (El Reg) article, and not the actual source material.

*shamed*

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reg author seems to have misunderstood paper...

I thought the author wrote it while drunk or suffered from the various educational changes of the last few years. I am a trained scientist and can speak three languages, including English as my native tongue. I could not understand the bit about lagging. The grammar and random order of words, ommission of prepostions etc. made it unintelligible. the use of "likely" in this context means what? Probably? Perhaps?

The footnote seemed to be a set of typing mistakes or random cut-and-pastes; but that could be because I did not understand, "carries a three" in the first place.

Could ER find literate writers with some scientific training for such things?

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Facepalm

Re: Reg author seems to have misunderstood paper...

The footnote seemed to be a set of typing mistakes or random cut-and-pastes; but that could be because I did not understand, "carries a three" in the first place.

Someone's never done arithmetic on paper before...

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What no denial? Is Lewis on holiday?

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@Dick Pountain

"What no denial? Is Lewis on holiday?"

Even as we speak he's probably furiously trying to dig up some anti GW paper written by some drunk albanian creationist 30 years ago that he can cite as damning evidence against the whole climate change hoax.

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Mushroom

Re: Lewis-bashing

Can we give it a break? It's not like we *don't* know Lewis' point of view. I think El Reg are trying to do the right thing and get a neutral PoV written and banned Lewis from writing any more AGW articles (the last 3 or 4 have been non-Lewis), and all half the commentators can complain about is that they don't have another opportunity to bash Lewis!

If you're commenting on here, you're a regular and know what to expect. Now F-off and find somewhere else to troll, your toy has been confiscated!

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Anonymous Coward

A shorter Dick Pountain

"I really believed in Global Warming, but now I look a right tit.

It gets worse every year.

Can I have my mega-apocalyptic scare back please?"

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Re: Lewis-bashing & Asiren

>I think El Reg are trying to do the right thing and get a neutral PoV written

Not only that, but I value Lewis' writeups, even if I don't agree with all of them, nor his AGW prejudices. I am believe somewhat in AGW, and have adjusted my lifestyle, more than somewhat. Any convincing news that it was all a bad mistake and I can go back to emitting as much CO2 as I want would be excellent news to me. Haven't heard anything all that convincing, yet, but who knows.

In a subject as complex as this, I value & trust publications that are capable of presenting conflicting viewpoints.

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What the paper in question really says...

Having now skimmed through the original paper (thanks for the link, Simon!), below is my explanation of what's going on. It's not surprising that Simon and others here have misunderstood the paper, as the climate system is quite complex and our current knowledge of past climate more like peering through foggy muck rather than reading a book in a brightly lit room.

One of the pesky issues that bedevils those who study the history of our atmosphere over geologic time periods is that when global temperatures change significantly, as far as has been determined, this always seems to happen hundreds or thousands of years *before* rather than *after* CO2 levels change, making a simplistic CO2-caused-temp-change mechanism a hard sell, at least to the general public.

In this paper, they (a) use CO2 data from high-deposition core sites (thicker ice per year means smaller time error bars) and (b) infer Antarctic temperature data from a group of cores around Antarctica rather than a single core from just one region. They claim that this approach allows them (using fancy maths) to correlate the CO2 levels and Antarctic temperatures more accurately and with smaller predicted errors than has previously been done.

Their result: changes in CO2 came about 160 years *after* changes in Antarctic region temperatures, plus or minus about 220 years. This is shorter than previously thought. Since 160 years - 220 years is -60 years, their results suggest a small but significant chance that CO2 changes actually happened a few decades *before* the temperature changes.

What does this mean for the current controversy? Not much, directly. However, it places some constraints on global climate models that are different from those previously thought to apply, which in the best of all possible worlds would be quickly used to improve those models and better understand the details of how and why the last ice age ended.

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FAIL

Re: What the paper in question really says...

Looking at the headline shame the author could not take the time that MondoMan did to actually read what he was suppose to be reporting on....then again with The Reg and the way it's going down hill fast I bet they don't realise people know what Cut-and-Paste is.

Anyone know the web site that will tell me where this author cut and paste from?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What the paper in question really says...

Another misleading headline

This isn't the first time that the alarmist headline does not match the content of the paper. There's a good example right now on the NASA site headlined "Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt" and reported as such on the BBC "Scientists said the "unprecedented" melting took place...", etc.

If however you read further down the NASA press release it says "melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time".

On the other hand, I've noticed that one doesn't normally see headlines of the type "Global Warming nothing to worry about" or "Carbon (sic) good for crop growth, feeds world's hungry".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What the paper in question really says...

'"On the other hand, I've noticed that one doesn't normally see headlines of the type "Global Warming nothing to worry about" or "Carbon (sic) good for crop growth, feeds world's hungry".'

Actually, you do. You need to read more widely. Plenty of people, even industry and MPs, say how wonderful it will be to have the climate of the South of France in Northumberland, with vineyards etc.. Plenty more seem to think increased CO2 will transmute into forests and crops growing at twice the rate in previously unsuitable regions.

These people neglect to think what the effects may be elsewhere or what the changes may mean for the rest of the biological system.

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Re: What the paper in question really says...

Great summary Mondo. Of course this means that CO2 increases AFTER the planet begins a warming cycle. That doth not play well with the CAGW camp, now does it?

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Re: What the paper in question really says...

'Plenty of people, even industry and MPs, say how wonderful it will be to have the climate of the South of France in Northumberland' - Who says this or are you just blowing hot air?

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Re: What the paper in question really says...

Warming oceans release CO2, which then results in more warming i.e. it is a feedback loop and CO2 amplifies natural warming. That means CO2 normally lags the initial temperature rise. The natural cause of that initial temperature rise is the Milankovitch cycles.

This time CO2 leads temperature rise rather than following it. but that doesn't mean that CO2 won't do what it always does and raise the temperature:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature.htm

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Boffin

Re: What the paper in question really says...

Of course this means that CO2 increases AFTER the planet begins a warming cycle. That doth not play well with the CAGW camp, now does it?

Actually, it plays right into their hands. We already know, experimentally, that CO2 can trap heat, leading to warming. If research shows that warming is likely to increase CO2 as well, then we have a feedback loop. The faster it happens, the more vicious the cycle.

In short, if step 1 is increased atmospheric CO2 and 2 is warming, we have

1 -> 2 -> 1 -> 2 -> 1 (repeat ad infinitum.)

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FAIL

Two things are worthyof note.

First of all the headline of the article is completely at odds with the actual source material

Read this carefully:

The articles author says :

"Their conclusion is that when the CO2 arrives, things change – fast – as southern climates respond to events in the northern hemisphere and vice-versa."

As the paper states:

“... we show that the increase in CO2 likely lagged the increase in regional Antarctic temperature by less than 400 yr and that even a short lead of CO2 over temperature cannot be excluded.”

That is CO2 is LAGGING the climate change, not LEADING it.

So the author SHOULD have said

"Their conclusion is that by the time the CO2 arrives, things have already changed – fast – as southern climates respond to events in the northern hemisphere and vice-versa."

But he chose to rephrase that in a way consistent with the dogma that climate change is always preceded by and caused by CO2 variations. Rather than the more logical conclusion that a cooling earth would suffer a drastic loss of CO2 absorbing plankton and vegetable life.

Secondly, the actual paper is one of more and more carefully worded scientific papers that is saying 'er no actually this bit of research does NOT support AGW.' without actually saying it directly.

Scientists are aware that its not as cool (sic!) to be on the AGW side, as before.

Desperation on the AGW camp? twisting of reportage to maintain the fiction as scientists desert the creed?

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Re: Two things are worthyof note.

@mondoman - thanks for the clarification

@everyone else - Please do not get caught up in the AGW debate, which is frankly irrelevant in the big scheme of things. We need a long-term stable supply of energy, long-term we will run out of fossil fuels, and really it doesn't make too much difference if this happens in 100 years or 200, we need to start working on solutions now. Current Earth consumption is 12 TW and with the rate of population increase AND development in developing countries, we're going to be using at least 20 TW by the end of the century. Globally we need to be adding something like 100GW a year of solar, wind, nuclear etc EVERY YEAR for the next couple of centuries. That should be more than enough reason to invest more and more in non-fossil fuels and start winding down the use of fossil fuels, without needing to get into quasi-religious arguments about whether fossil fuel use is overheating the planet.

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Re: Two things are worthyof note.

You can't just ignor the AGW debate. There are many ecomonically damaging policies that have been put in place that you would not do on the basis of energy security. Carbon sequestration, carbon credits etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scientists are aware that its not as cool (sic!) to be on the AGW side, as before.

Hmm. I'm not sure that taking a political stance is ever really "cool" for scientists. What scientists do for cool is more like getting excited over the possibilities of graphene, or metamaterials, or quantum computing, string theory, etc. I have no idea what counts as cool in climate science circles, but it might be something like cloud-feedback models, or clever new scheme X to optimize numerical modelling.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scientists are aware that its not as cool (sic!) to be on the AGW side, as before.

Yep...I know a bunch of climate scientists and none of them want to/like to discuss climate change with people outside of their area, in the same way that I don't discuss backup and disaster recovery/storage with people outside of that area - they just don't understand the subject enough to ask meaningful questions. What does get them excited is working out how to extract data from datasets, how to make use of previously unused data, how to make models higher resolution, how to acquire data from new sources or use existing datasets to show new data. Particularly things like "we've worked out how to see how much water vapour/O3/whatever is in the atmosphere using a decades old satellite which was never intended to do this", really get them going.

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Re: Two things are worthyof note.

"Carbon sequestration, carbon credits etc."

I think you'll find that "carbon credits" was just a ruse created by the rich so that they could enrich the rich even more. It's a farce. What are they going to do? Eat their money?

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Re: Two things are worthyof note.

In the long term, everybody dies.

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Eh ?

I must be being dumb here. How can CO2 lag the temperature rise if it is the cause of the rise !?

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Re: Eh ?

Well, this paper moves the error bars far enough so that it is possible the CO2 is going up before the melting starts, even though the data points are still after the warming occurs.

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Re: Eh ?

http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature.htm

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What's that bright light in the sky then?

Are you telling me the tarmac roads are melting because of CO2?

Put your hand on any black or dark painted metal object during bright sunlit days and then tell me 'heat' comes from CO2.

CO2 is one of the most misunderstood subjects on the planet.

Essential for life, absorbed by nearly every form of plant life on the planet, emitted by humans constantly 24 hours a day, every day of their lifespan.

As an atmospheric gas, its broken down by UV and other energetic emissions from the sun and as a gaseous element is abused more than anything else by climate wallahs on either side of the 'media' climate change argument.

CO2 acts as a blanket for retaining heat in the atmosphere.

Try telling that to the elderly freezing to death in northern hempisphere winters and expecting your hearing to come away unscathed!

Blankets also retain 'cold', being a form of insulation. (Now there's a commercial proposition)

Some say if we had no politicians, media commentators or climate activists, we'd produce less CO2. Probably right.

That bright light in the sky warms the earth faster than any other factor. Try sitting on the edge of the hotel pool at midday and tell me otherwise. Then try it again between 3 and 5am in the morning.

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Mushroom

Re: What's that bright light in the sky then?

Wow... The stupidity burns bright in this one...

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Re: What's that bright light in the sky then?

"Put your hand on any black or dark painted metal object during bright sunlit days and then tell me 'heat' comes from CO2."

Partially it does. If there was no CO2 the average temperature of the earth would be about -30C and you probably wouldn't want to touch any outside objects without gloves.

"CO2 is one of the most misunderstood subjects on the planet."

As you ably demonstrate.

"As an atmospheric gas, its broken down by UV"

No it isn't. Its very stable wrt UV. You're thinking of oxygen which is broken down and forms ozone.

"Try telling that to the elderly freezing to death in northern hempisphere winters and expecting your hearing to come away unscathed!"

Try telling that to farmers in africa looking at baked fields and destroyed crops. Oh , and wasn't it a little bit warm in the USA this year?

"That bright light in the sky warms the earth faster than any other factor. Try sitting on the edge of the hotel pool at midday and tell me otherwise. Then try it again between 3 and 5am in the morning."

Wow, you're on the cutting edge of science here. You should go and tell the climate scientists of this remarkable discovery of "that bright light in the sky" which they've quite obviously ignored all this time in their theories and models. A nobel prize could be yours!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's that bright light in the sky then?

I really, really hope you're trolling. If not you are a classic - albeit graphic - example of why climate scientists can be arsed with AGW doubters.

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Unhappy

Re: What's that bright light in the sky then?

"I really, really hope you're trolling. If not you are a classic - albeit graphic - example of why climate scientists can be arsed with AGW doubters."

Quite. If he's not a troll then his lack of understanding of basic science is probably a damning indictment of the current education system. "Blankets also retain 'cold'," Gawd almighty - I've yet to see a more clueless remark this year on El Reg.

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Linux

Re: What's that bright light in the sky then?

Well done.

I've been looking at that bright light in the sky at night-time and it seems to come and go about every 28 days.

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