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« Congress to investigate Shukla | Main | A new fusion process »

Climate cool-aid

Via El Reg, we discover that a whole new source of climate coolants has been discovered.

A team of top-level atmospheric chemistry boffins from France and Germany say they have identified a new process by which vast amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted into the atmosphere from the sea - a process which was unknown until now, meaning that existing climate models do not take account of it.

The coolant in which they are interested is isoprene, which was previously thought to be produced mainly by marine plankton. It now seems that it can be produced abiotically too, and in quantities that might even explain the model-observation divergence.

As with the last story, I'd suggest a measure of caution might be valuable.

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Reader Comments (56)

I beat you to it Bish :) over on Unthreaded tee hee

Oct 1, 2015 at 1:54 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Finally, they are getting round to a bit of thinking.
And does isoprene absorb in the UV like ozone? Yes it does.

Oct 1, 2015 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

WUWT got there as well.
Almost 80 comments of varying relevance too.

Oct 1, 2015 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Isoprene is a gas that is formed by both the vegetation and the oceans. It is very important for the climate because this gas can form particles that can become clouds and then later affect temperature and precipitation. Previously it was assumed that isoprene is primarily caused by biological processes from plankton in the sea water. The atmospheric chemists from France and Germany, however, could now show that isoprene could also be formed without biological sources in surface film of the oceans by sunlight and so explain the large discrepancy between field measurements and models. The new identified photochemical reaction is therefore important to improve the climate models. --Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, 30 September 2015

Oct 1, 2015 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Perhaps the time is coming when we should all club together (Brandon — see Discussion — seems to think we ought to have a "cause" so he can identify us properly) and create a poster (A1 would do the trick) to be sent to all parliamentarians in Europe, the Americas and Oceania, and to the presidents of all the world's scientific bodies (starting with the RS) and the heads, by whatever name, of all the universities in the countries mentioned above, and every climate scientist who has ever published and every newsapaper editor, listing all the recent scientific papers and research findings that cast doubt on the 'C' on CAGW under the headline (72pt min; 120pt better) THE SCIENCE IS NOT SETTLED with the strap line: "So get off your overfed backsides and do some proper research".
Perhaps we could afford a billboard campaign as well.
Seriously, Andrew is right to counsel caution but this is just one more example of what is out there to be discovered and would have been discovered years ago if the Climateers were real scientists researching real climate instead of psyentivists lining their pockets and pushing their agenda.
Those are the people with a cause, Brandon, and it stinks!

Oct 1, 2015 at 2:21 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

So if all the nitrate fertilisers, applied on land, end up in the sea, and produce better growth of isoprene emitting plankton, this is a good thing?

Do they eat polythene bags aswell?

Can we burn isoprene? It would save waiting a few million years for the plankton to become fossil fuels.

Oct 1, 2015 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Dung, if this is true, how much of climate science can be recycled as landfill? 97%?

Or could climate science be modified with plankton to produce something useful, like isoprene? There has to be enough scrap climate science to keep us going until the end of the century.

Oct 1, 2015 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

But we know that the science is settled, and that anyone who doubts the holy models is an evil denier.

Oct 1, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Mike Jackson, the sad part, a lot of scientsts are doing proper research and this sort of thing is the result. The problem is the 'settled'. If they hadn't lumbered themselves with that they wouldn't be in the mire now.

Oct 1, 2015 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

see the models are right , evil CO2 would have caused temperature increases in line with the models if where not for the action of isoprene, sadly evil CO2 can no longer be absorbed by the isoprene therefore the planet will start to heat up and we are even more 'doomed' they we thought.

Or do you really think a 'theory' that can claim cooling is due to global warming would any issue with 'proving ' any new thing found would still be the fault or subject to 'evil CO2'

Oct 1, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

This is so cool. There is a whole field of study in organic chemistry on terpenes (isoprene dimers). Most of these are naturally occurring products and many have industrial use (natural rubbers, citrus cleaners) and are used medicinally. In fact my graduate work in chemistry was on pyrolyzing these compounds. Now they might save the world from CO2 induced warming.
But it won't make any difference in the climate alarm story. There is a narrative. The narrative serves a very useful purpose for those who want to be gate keepers for the world's resources. So long as we elect governments that insert themselves in the minutia of everyday living, no amount of contrary research will be sufficient to make that stop.

Oct 1, 2015 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean

Is it on the BBC yet? Is Hazzabin all over it?. Dellers has it covered.

Oct 1, 2015 at 4:14 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

in quantities that might even explain the model-observation divergence

Oh yes. I can see this getting lots of mileage and interest in "further research". It might be the Jesus molecule, able to resurrect the climate models.

Oct 1, 2015 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

and Then There's Biology.

The climate models have no biology, and it's not as if plants don't exist. What were they thinking?

Oct 1, 2015 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

"Existing climate models do not take account of it." Existing climate models do not take account even of elementary thermodynamics - a temperature dependence of a latent heat of water evaporation.

Oct 1, 2015 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurious George

Rate of production of these chemicals by plankton depend on temperature (peak at 23 deg C according to one source I've read), sunlight and of course the amount of plankton. A decrease would cause warming and an increase would cause cooling. Just the sort of changes to fit nicely into chaotic oscillations.

Oct 1, 2015 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

How long before the Green Blob start claiming that AGW is killing the plankton that are producing the cooling isoprenes?

Oct 1, 2015 at 7:03 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Is there any indication that anything here is new or changing? Nope, no measurements from the past. It's not modelled? So what? Nor is radiative physics, it seems. No photons are running about in the GCMs, just estimates, dodgy estimates of forcing and dodgy assumptions about feedback.

I've asked about cloud condensation nuclei before. Now, it seems to me that clouds form when they want to. There is no shortage of CCN, and therefore it isn't a relevant factor when there are more or less. A while back we were presented with the discovery of amines in the stratosphere (?). They are CCN too, previously unobserved. There are all sorts of things running about in the atmosphere which will help form a cloud. Wherever there's a bit of water, it seems. Am I wrong to look at it this way? Don't clouds form wherever they want to, in real life?

Oct 1, 2015 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

i think i have a diving suit out of isoprene in the cupboard..from my last holiday in the carribans.

i could be the first high hourly wages employee in the new setup uk institutte for this?

Oct 1, 2015 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCo2

More hype, and an obvious attempt to "save the science" of (global) climate. The key word in all the above is "volatile"; that means they evaporate in the blink of an eye, and don't affect anything, least of all temperature (least of all GLOBAL temperature). When I was analyzing data on atmospheric aerosols (particulates) back in the early 1990s, I found that all of the particulates (black carbon, sulfates, organics, etc.) were being accurately collected and measured EXCEPT the volatiles, which fell in the "volatile organics" class; there were just as many (or few) of them on the blank filters as were collected on the filters mounted in the sampling airflow (in other words, they didn't build up over the 24-hour sampling period, as the other particles did). As my Uncle Olaf used to say, "You're shooting at baby crawdads through muddy water, from high up on the bridge, with a BB gun."

Oct 1, 2015 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

Curious George's curiousity, like that of the "the models dont include ' chorus here evidently does not extend to actually reading what the modelers say about isopreene and other VOC's in the IPCC report: Volatile organic compounds (VOC)

Volatile organic compounds (VOC), which include non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) and oxygenated NMHC (e.g., alcohols, aldehydes and organic acids), have short atmospheric lifetimes (fractions of a day to months) and small direct impact on radiative forcing. VOC influence climate through their production of organic aerosols and their involvement in photochemistry, i.e., production of O3 in the presence of NOx and light. The largest source, by far, is natural emission from vegetation. Isoprene, with the largest emission rate, is not stored in plants and is only emitted during photosynthesis (Lerdau and Keller, 1997). Isoprene emission is an important component in tropospheric photochemistry (Guenther et al., 1995, 1999) and is included in the OxComp simulations. Monoterpenes are stored in plant reservoirs, so they are emitted throughout the day and night. The monoterpenes play an important role in aerosol formation and are discussed in Chapter 5. Vegetation also releases other VOC at relatively small rates, and small amounts of NMHC are emitted naturally by the oceans. Anthropogenic sources of VOC include fuel production, distribution, and combustion, with the largest source being emissions (i) from motor vehicles due to either evaporation or incomplete combustion of fuel, and (ii) from biomass burning. Thousands of different compounds with varying lifetimes and chemical behaviour have been observed in the atmosphere, so most models of tropospheric chemistry include some chemical speciation of the VOC. Generally, fossil VOC sources have already been accounted for as release of fossil C in the CO2 budgets and thus we do not count VOC as a source of CO2.

Given their short lifetimes and geographically varying sources, it is not possible to derive a global atmospheric burden or mean abundance for most VOC from current measurements. VOC abundances are generally concentrated very near their sources. Natural emissions occur predominantly in the tropics (23°S to 23°N) with smaller amounts emitted in the northern mid-latitudes and boreal regions mainly in the warmer seasons. Anthropogenic emissions occur in heavily populated, industrialised regions (95% in the Northern Hemisphere peaking at 40°N to 50°N), where natural emissions are relatively low, so they have significant impacts on regional chemistry despite small global emissions. A few VOC, such as ethane and acetone, are longer-lived and impact tropospheric chemistry on hemispheric scales. Two independent estimates of global emissions (Ehhalt, 1999; and TAR/OxComp budget based on the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR)) are summarised in Table 4.7a. The OxComp specification of the hydrocarbon mixture for both industrial and biomass-burning emissions is given in Table 4.7b.

If the Bish consults Table 4.7(a) & 4.8 in the TAR he will find they honestly note :

Estimates of global VOC emissions (in TgC/yr) from different sources compared with the values adopted for this report
Ehhalt (1999) Isoprene (C5H8) Terpene (C10H16) C2H6 C3H8 C4H10 C2H4 C3H6 C2H2 . It is expected that anthropogenic emissions of most VOC have risen since pre-industrial times due to increased use of gasoline and other hydrocarbon products. Due to the importance of VOC abundance in determining tropospheric O3 and OH, systematic measurements and analyses of their budgets will remain important in understanding the chemistry-climate coupling.

There is a serious discrepancy between the isoprene emissions derived by Guenther et al. (1995) based on a global scaling of emission from different biomes, about 500 TgC/yr, and those used in OxComp for global chemistry-transport modelling, about 200 TgC/yr. When the larger isoprene fluxes are used in the CTMs, many observational constraints on CO and even isoprene itself are poorly matched. This highlights a key uncertainty in global modelling of highly reactive trace gases: namely, what fraction of primary emissions escapes immediate reaction/removal in the vegetation canopy or immediate boundary layer and participates in the chemistry on the scales represented by global models? For the isoprene budget, there are no measurements of the deposition of reaction products within the canopy. More detail on the scaling of isoprene and monoterpene emissions is provided in Chapter 5. Although isoprene emissions are likely to change in response to evolving chemical and climate environment over the next century, this assessment was unable to include a projection of such changes.

Oct 1, 2015 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Russell, are you intimating that the science isn't settled?

Oct 1, 2015 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Kim: Russell is desperately trying to back-pedal on a bicycle that has no reverse gear.

Oct 1, 2015 at 9:20 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

I read somewhere today someone saying that if this is true then the warming effect of CO2 must be EVEN GREATER than first thought.

Oct 1, 2015 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

Russell is a genyouwine party pooper and he does not read the posts he criticizes. This is a 'new' process because although it was already known about, the quantities are much greater than previously thought... gedit? Isoprene does not have to stay in the atmosphere for years, it is constantly being produced in large amounts and when conditions are right iot can seed clouds.
RB this post does not really say anything about CO2, it just says Isoprene is being produced and it did not start yesterday, it has been part of the system all along but our idiot climate alarmists who know everything did not know. There are lots of processes they know nothing about, that's the problem.

Oct 1, 2015 at 9:55 PM | Registered CommenterDung

If people keep finding more reasons to prove the science is not settled, climate scientists are going to keep losing their credibility.

If you would like to help a climate scientist find his credibility, please direct him to the Mariana Trench, Western Pacific. A long snorkel tube is recommended, shark repellant is optional.

Oct 1, 2015 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Having failed to read the IPCC report table referred to, Dung remains blissfully unaware that" the quantities" he thinks "much greater than previously thought..." are a hundred times smaller than the existing VOC background.

Stay tuned for the next factoid implosion.

Oct 1, 2015 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

"and Then There's Biology."
Oct 1, 2015 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

You've done it again, Kim.
A marvellous economy of words.

Oct 2, 2015 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I can't access the paper and am buggered if I'm paying $35 for the pleasure but as [per] usual it sounds like a lot of GIGO computerized speculation to me and LO! good grief and bejabbers itself - Isoprene is like a leprechaun - now you see him, then you don't.

I wonder if, this paper will be published in the eco warriors journal, the mag all green missionaries read - 'Nature'?

More to the point, the nutters in NOAA alarmists have been trying so damn hard to fix the Temperature record to show "warming is back!"
Or, "the heat has disappeared into the deep oceans" - BS in an effort to explain the hiatus - no warming signal since circa' all.
Now this supposition concerning Isoprene - one wonders how long it will be before they lay claim to Isoprene being the cause of 'cancelling out' the so called 'warming' and due to man made emissions of CO2?

I take it all; concerning the biochemical origin of Isoprene - and "resultant cooling effect" - with a big pinch railway train load of salt.

Now, for me, it's back to the SUN and to the Sun I will always look: the solar influence is king.

Oct 2, 2015 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Kim & michael hart 'and Then There's Biology'

Reminds me of "The War of the Worlds".

The unwanted alien invaders, trying to take over the world, and destroy all of mankind's best creations and defences with their evil plotting and blood sucking lifestyle, are destroyed by humble bacteria.

I think I gave up trusting anything in the IPCC reports. It is hardly as though they have a track record for reliability.

Oct 2, 2015 at 12:58 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie
Oct 2, 2015 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Athelstan, there's always the sun.

Oct 2, 2015 at 1:27 AM | rmichael hart

Michael, there's always cold fusion

No, wait a minute, the Bish ran that one up an hour ago.

Oct 2, 2015 at 2:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Russelle, no. I suspect your English language reading skills are as bad as your scientific skills.
The Bishop's post was about hot fusion, not cold fusion. You are a wickfut.

I have actually now posted a link to an MIT lecture series on cold fusion for you to watch. See you in 15 hours.

Oct 2, 2015 at 3:53 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"Kim: Russell is desperately trying to back-pedal on a bicycle that has no reverse gear.

Oct 1, 2015 at 9:20 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian"

vvussell's bike lacks tires or even rims. I have to wonder if it even has pedals.

Nice try with your straw men vvussell, shame only you believe your straw men have more than dead grass in them. Maybe you should check those VOC levels at the shore vvussell; you know that place where the oceans meet the land?

Oct 2, 2015 at 4:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Well Michael, is the fusion target hot ot cold ?

The paper says its condensed matter: " ultradense deuterion , " sitting a room temperature.

Consult tthe references in the paper you haven't read ( standard Climate Truther practice, like not being able to find a copy of Nature in the nearest library., you knoww, that place with all the peces of paper with funny marks on them ) and you will discover nobody has ever produced any -or seen the stuff in an electron microscope- .. The lack of a weighable sample is kind of hard to swallow given that the paper claims density is 140 kg/cc !

Oct 2, 2015 at 6:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell


For your benefit , I have actually published a critique of cold fusion 9 Fleischmann, M. & Pons, S. J. electoanalyt. Chem. 261, 301−308 (1989). in Nature :
Please remove foot from mouth before reading : thus far it has been cited in 19 other peer reviewed publication s.

Fusion in from the cold?

Scientific Correspondence

Nature 339, 185 (18 May 1989)


Oct 2, 2015 at 6:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Hmm, heavy D or, just plain old Hydrogen?

I am not sure that, the human race understands necessarily enough about the complexities of nucleosynthesis to be able to recreate the process here on lowly earth. When we are able to reproduce suitable heat and pressure conditions resembling our inner sun's core - at circa 14 million K, then and maybe we're talking. But then, theoretical physics and therein the metaphorically and quite literally, the fabulous mathematics involved - would boggle many minds and me. I am convinced however that, mankind his endless propensity for discovery will find an answer to the riddle [Fusion].

I am and very much afraid though, that, thanks to the closure of so many physics University research labs, these future discoveries are unlikely to made by British born intellects the likes of say; Hoyle or Burbage.
As we can sagely observe here in the UK: very, very sadly this nation no longer has the wherewithal to construct its own nuclear reactors.
Is it not, our inability to do 'big stuff' a damning indictment and a mirror on the deconstruction, nay razing of rigour wherein our standards of education have gone to pasture. It tends to happen when you have teachers attempting to impart maffs when these teachers themselves are barely able to add up.


But cold fusion? I am waiting to be convinced, and maybe I don't see [any possibility] of how that jump can be straddled.

Oct 2, 2015 at 8:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Oct 1, 2015 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered Commenter Russell

Having failed to read the IPCC report table referred to, Dung remains blissfully unaware that" the quantities" he thinks "much greater than previously thought..." are a hundred times smaller than the existing VOC background.

Stay tuned for the next factoid implosion.

And remarkably the same argument holds for the warming effect of CO2 compared with the background (water vapour).

Oct 2, 2015 at 8:42 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

A link to the paper, provided by a WUWT commenter:

Oct 2, 2015 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

For your benefit , I have actually published a critique of cold fusion 9 Fleischmann, M. & Pons, S. J. electoanalyt. Chem. 261, 301−308 (1989). in Nature :
So the science is settled after all, people. The world according to Russell came to an end in 1989 and there have been no new ideas on cold fusion or hot fusion and most certainly not on anything to do with climate since then.

Oct 2, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"maybe I don't see [any possibility] of how that jump can be straddled"

Quantum tunnelling? It seems to be the explanation for how the sun defies normal physics.

Oct 2, 2015 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

They had to find a source of heat loss since they ignore two important ones, convection and latent heat.

Oct 2, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Yes Mike , physics buried cold fusion in cold ground of the factoid cemetary three decades ago, next to N-Rays and biological transmutation.

Aren't you late for your Norwegian Blue's speech therapy class?

Oct 2, 2015 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell


For your benefit , I have actually published a critique of cold fusion 9 Fleischmann, M. & Pons, S. J. electoanalyt. Chem. 261, 301−308 (1989). in Nature :
Please remove foot from mouth before reading : thus far it has been cited in 19 other peer reviewed publication s.

Fusion in from the cold?
Scientific Correspondence
Nature 339, 185 (18 May 1989)

Oct 2, 2015 at 6:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

This patient is showing extreme insecurity problems, a general lack of self confidence and a pathological need to stop people laughing at him.

Untreatable unfortunately.

Oct 2, 2015 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Don't mind Dung- it's just the Tourette's talking.

Oct 2, 2015 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

"maybe I don't see [any possibility] of how that jump can be straddled"

Quantum tunnelling? It seems to be the explanation for how the sun defies normal physics.

Quantum physics and the possibilities almost infinite - the key maybe to unlocking the intricacies of the Universe - who knows?

Also, speaking personally of an endless fascination - when I have time to dabble and read stuff. JamesG, there is always stuff you don't know but pondering the vastness of space and down to the micro level and beyond to say the least - is boggling of the mind food.

Oct 2, 2015 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Russel is right. One, if fair-minded, is pretty much bound to suspect claims of heat which is practically undetectable without using very sensitive instruments with outputs well within the error bars, with claims of real detectable heat coming soon with the next batch of funding. With the exaggeration of theoretical phenomena in the absence of any solid evidence that the claimed mechanism is of the scale required to produce the promised effect..

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Oct 2, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda, you might be able to provide me with an error estimate for a CAM 5.1 model:

Oct 2, 2015 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurious George

Curioud George, I read the first hundred or so comments. I got fed up with the snark and entitlement of some of the folks there. I personally don't like it when I'm given homework by some anonymous commenter. How often did I go away and find the paper paywalled, or read it and find it irrelevant or inadequate? Enough to make me avoid following links left without explanation or support. You have a genuine point about the latent heat. It really is not your job to go and buy a super computer and sit around waiting for the results of a thousand runs to see what difference it makes. Once pointed out that their approximation is possibly liable to give error, they oughta fix it. It will make their product better. The likely effect of the error and whether it iterates badly, that does not matter.

Oct 2, 2015 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Oct 2, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered Commenter rhoda

Umm can you run that by me again with subtitles?

I seriously would not wish to disagree with you about anything at all I might add ^.^

Oct 2, 2015 at 9:53 PM | Registered CommenterDung

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