Curious about the latest CO2 Paper

The recent presentation by Dr. Murry Salby is getting lots of attention.  I have now listened to his podcast and I must say it is intriguing.  Instead of rehashing discussion that has been done to death on other sites I am going to show some things that I found previously that tie in well with his paper.  I didn’t understand what I found at the time, but now it is clear that what I found actually supports what he is proposing.  That human emissions have almost no impact that global CO2.

When I was working with the sea level data and the acceleration rates for the sea level I also used that same method on temperature and CO2 level.  Acceleration is the rate at which the rate is changing.  Acceleration is zero if the speed is not changing.  When I used the same method for determining the acceleration for temperature I ended up with this result.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Acceleration Rate of Global Temperature Anomaly.

This clearly shows that the acceleration rate of global temperature is cyclical in nature.  Since 1996 there has been no high rate of acceleration.  This was based on the linear regression of 5 year intervals which is why the last year is a few years ago.  A second regression of the 1st is how the acceleration was determined.  There was no curve fitting involved.

I then used the same method for the monthly global CO2 level.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Acceleration of Global CO2 Level.

This also shows the same type of cyclical behavior.  Now to do my favorite analysis and figure out the timing.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Overlay of temperature and CO2 level acceleration.

This ties in exactly with what Dr. Salby has found.  The Earth’s temperature starts to swing in a direction and the CO2 level follows. This does not get into the C12 and C13 argument that Dr. Salby discusses, but it does show that rate of global temperature change precedes the global rate of CO2 change.  This would be why some Januaries (to use Dr. Salby’s terms) show great change some years or very little other years.

I found this about 9 months ago, but was unsure what it meant so I sat on it because I did not have a good interpretation for it.  Now I do and it is clear that Dr. Salby has found something that could profoundly alter the debate.

On a side note I did some quick calculations today in preparation for this article.  Human emissions are ~ 3E13 kg/yr  which accounts for  ~ 1.5% of the total CO2 in the atmosphere.  As Dr. Salby points out that the total emissions and sinks are much, much greater than that.  As a result the turnover in the atmosphere turns over every few years.  He puts it at 5 years, but the range normally given is 2-10 years.  For human emissions to turnover the CO2 in the atmosphere it would take 67 years.  That is using the latest year which is the highest level of emissions ever.

This still leaves a problem though.  If Dr. Salby is correct, then there is a serious problem with the proxy CO2 data.  Since most of the proxy data is from ice cores it might eliminate them as a reliable proxy for CO2.  He does discuss this in the Q&A session but it will also be a MAJOR blow to global warming if the ice core proxy for CO2 level is eliminated.

Posted in Cause and Effect and Climate and Skeptic by inconvenientskeptic on August 5th, 2011 at 6:08 pm.


This post has 12 comments

  1. “If Dr. Salby is correct, then there is a serious problem with the proxy CO2 data.”

    This has been pointed out for years now.But aside from a few skeptics,it is not taken seriously.

    Now emerging information is coming out showing that those ice cores are under counting CO2 levels.

    This is an area that needs a lot more research to asses the reliability of the CO2 levels in them.How much of it escapes during the process of snow and ice transforming into glacial ice.

  2. Eric Anderson Aug 6th 2011

    Thanks, John. Good post.

    If the ice core CO2 proxies are thrown out, I’m not sure that would be a major blow to AGW theory. Didn’t the ice core data show a lag between warmer temperatures and CO2 increase? It seems to me that AGW proponents have been spending a fair amount of time and energy coming up with explanations for why this doesn’t invalidate the “CO2-drives-temperature” idea. In what way would you see the invalidation of the ice core proxies as potentially being a major blow to AGW theory.

  3. Excellent post. These results are definitely a major blow to AGW theory, if they hold up. I noticed that the alarmist blogs climateprogress and realclimate haven’t said a word about Salby’s talk.

  4. Incidentally something along these lines was published in Energy & Environment in 2009 by Tom Quirk. I haven’t read the paper in detail yet to see how much it corresponds to Salby’s work, but it sounds pretty similar:

    “The yearly increases of atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been nearly two orders of magnitude greater than the change to seasonal variation which implies that the fossil fuel derived CO2 is almost totally absorbed locally in the year that it is emitted.”

  5. Hi “sunsettommy”,
    People take Salby very seriously, including Judith Curry.

  6. inconvenientskeptic Aug 6th 2011

    I am going to put something together about why the ice core proxies for CO2 level is so important for the theory of global warming.

    So far the warmists have stuck with an explanation for early interglacial warming lag and ignored every other area. The situation for them is now getting very precarious.

  7. This was written almost 4 years ago by Alan Siddons and Joe D’ Aleo.

    Carbon Dioxide: The Houdini of Gases

    In this paper.They show how little mankind adds to the total.

    I have a list of worthy articles to read,at my forum:

  8. Post # 325 at this link below.Cohenite make a few interesting comments.

    August 7th, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for responding Ferdinand @294; I found the Jaworowski/Oeschger dispute interesting; Oeschger, while he was alive, was also dismissive of Jaworowski; the basic dispute here is whether trapped CO2, sealed in ice under high pressure maintains a contemperaneous atmospheric correlation. J says it doesn’t.

    Even if you accept that the ice core data is fine there are still surprises in past levels of CO2 as the Luthi paper shows:

    But there still remains the potential problem between the ice and CO2 gas age differences as Drake outlines:

    Some commentators, notably the formidable DeWitt Payne, suggest Drake gets it wrong because a simpler explanation is that snow accumulation during the deepest part of the ice age is slower than it is during interglacial periods. However, DeWitt did not know about the Luthi paper which confounds that explanation.

    What do you think Ferdinand?

  9. kuhnkat Aug 6th 2011

    I believe the main issue is that the ice cores are their PROOF that CO2 levels were about 280ppm for hundreds of thousands of years until nasty old man started spewing his pollution into the atmosphere kicking off those horrendous feedbacks. (apologies for the hyperbole)

    Remember how Dr. Beck was attacked and insulted about his collecting and cleaning the historical direct measurements of CO2 which disagrees with this ridiculous 280ppm hypothesis??

    Killing this alledged historically low CO2 myth is well worth losing the alledged data that CO2 change follows temp and not the other way. The warmists simply backed down to the reasonable position of CO2 only amplifying the signal.

    I think the most damning argument against the ice cores was the fact that they are allowed to RELAX before being analyzed. During the relaxation process they change from those pretty, shiny, almost clear ice rods to milky looking rods with microscopic fractures. Simply impossible to obtain any reasonable gas levels after that.

    “Both ice cores were cut into roughly 1-meter-long segments that were packaged in plastic sleeves and cardboard tubes and stored in a snow pit adjacent to the drilling dome.”

    Can you imagine handling something that has been under serious pressure like this?? First there is the mechanical disruption of the “plastic” ice by the drill, then the depressurization where it crystallizes again, then it is separated, sleeved, and left in a pit. Admittedly the pit is a fairly good refrigerator, but, the core comes from a hole with varying but stable temperature!! (temperature gradient changes through the length of the core but does not change much on a daily/yearly basis) I don’t wonder at all about how the CO2 level appeared so stable for so long. I know it is corrupted proxy data due to leakage as Dr. Jaworowski tells us.

    Then there is the relatively new finding that about 25% depth of the bottom ice has probably been melted and refrozen. What does that say about the results from that ice?? Dr. J and Dr. B are looking golden!!

  10. inconvenientskeptic Aug 7th 2011

    While it is a little early to simply discard the ice core CO2 data as consistently understating the past CO2 level, many of the ideas presented could easily be causes of why the historical CO2 levels are low.

    One problem I see with these theories is that the ice cores show comparable glacial/interglacial results for the past 400k years (Vostok) and 800k years (spotty EPICA data). It is really the Vostok data that nails the CO2.

    If the CO2 data is in error, then the mechanism for why it is low must also explain why data from the 400k interglacial is the same relative level as the Eemian, even though it is older.

    I can speculate on some mechanisms that might fit, but clearly there will need to be some serious in depth science to figure out the correct mechanism for why the ice cores are not accurate proxies for CO2.

  11. kuhnkat Aug 7th 2011

    This is a statement by Prof. Jaworowski. Here are a couple quotes:

    “This is because the ice cores do not fulfill the essential closed system criteria. One of them is a lack of liquid water in ice, which could dramatically change the chemical composition the air bubbles trapped between the ice crystals. This criterion, is not met, as even the coldest Antarctic ice (down to –73oC) contains liquid water[2]. More than 20 physico-chemical processes, mostly related to the presence of liquid water, contribute to the alteration of the original chemical composition of the air inclusions in polar ice[3].

    One of these processes is formation of gas hydrates or clathrates. In the highly compressed deep ice all air bubbles disappear, as under the influence of pressure the gases change into the solid clathrates, which are tiny crystals formed by interaction of gas with water molecules. Drilling decompresses cores excavated from deep ice, and contaminates them with the drilling fluid filling the borehole. Decompression leads to dense horizontal cracking of cores, by a well known sheeting process. After decompression of the ice cores, the solid clathrates decompose into a gas form, exploding in the process as if they were microscopic grenades. In the bubble-free ice the explosions form a new gas cavities and new cracks[4]. Through these cracks, and cracks formed by sheeting, a part of gas escapes first into the drilling liquid which fills the borehole, and then at the surface to the atmospheric air. Particular gases, CO2, O2 and N2 trapped in the deep cold ice start to form clathrates, and leave the air bubbles, at different pressures and depth. At the ice temperature of –15oC dissociation pressure for N2 is about 100 bars, for O2 75 bars, and for CO2 5 bars. Formation of CO2 clathrates starts in the ice sheets at about 200 meter depth, and that of O2 and N2 at 600 to 1000 meters. This leads to depletion of CO2 in the gas trapped in the ice sheets.”

    He seems to have provided a rather complete mechanism for loss of gas. The best way to check may not be possible. That would be to maintain the pressure of the core while extracting and analyzing. As the link I provided in the previous post shows, there is plenty of time for leakage to happen after what Dr. Jaworowski suggests happens during drilling and extraction. The question of the drilling fluid would still be open.

    states that filtered lamp oil was used as drilling fluid on these cores.

    My previous link talked about ethylene glycol being used to free the drills to extract the last cores.Then there were the thermal drills.

    Reading the Ice Relaxation section of the Wiki seems to match well with the good Dr. J’s issues.

    In my ignorant opinion, there is simply no reason to accept the measurements as accurate.

    In this thread:

    is a letter from Hans Oeschger castigating Prof. Jaworowski for his views.

    A section of a GISP2 study explaining how the cores are now processed including washing them down briefly with ultra pure water.

    There are also a few other sections worth reading including one noting that the early cores showed CO2 up to about 2500ppm while later cores have ended with the current under 300ppm consistently. This is a claim that I had not seen before from Prof. Jaworowski. Could it be that the original rougher handling actually preserved the gas state better than the more extensive modern processing or has there been a change in assumptions to interpret the data?

    After all, we are told that nature has been storing CO2 for eons and it has been only man that has raised it again wtih fossil fuel burning. Why wouldn’t we have higher CO2 at an optimum 1/2 million years ago with higher temperatures??

    I want to apologize if you have already been there and done that. I often forget that those I am interfacing with are probably better read, better educated, and smarter.

  12. inconvenientskeptic Aug 7th 2011


    Actually I have not seen that paper before and I find it very interesting. Thanks for linking it here.

    There was much I had not considered about the extraction of CO2 from the ice cores, but this gives me an idea on how poor a proxy they might actually be.

    Time will provide further information I am sure.

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