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« Death spiral stops | Main | Weirdness »
Friday
Sep112015

Weak sink sunk

In the years after the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report a small group of scientists claimed to have demonstrated that carbon sinks were weakening, so that a progressively smaller proportion of carbon dioxide emissions would be mopped up and locked away. Alarm, it would seem, was required. Josep Canadell and Michael Raupach, both of CSIRO, together with Corinne le Quere of UEA, published these claims in a series of papers from 2007-9 and their ideas have led to a great deal of worry among climatologists and licking of lips among environmentalists.

However, since then other scientists have challenged these views. Emanuel Gloor at Leeds published a paper that found that that the earlier claims were assigning to carbon sink weakening changes that should have been explained by other factors, like land-use change.

One of the carbon sinks that was claimed to be weakening was the Southern Ocean, but last night, Science published another paper (£) that finds that this was wrong too:

Several studies have suggested that the carbon sink in the Southern Ocean—the ocean’s strongest region for the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 —has weakened in recent decades. We demonstrated, on the basis of multidecadal analyses of surface ocean CO2 observations, that this weakening trend stopped around 2002, and by 2012, the Southern Ocean had regained its expected strength based on the growth of atmospheric CO2. All three Southern Ocean sectors have contributed to this reinvigoration of the carbon sink, yet differences in the processes between sectors exist, related to a tendency toward a zonally more asymmetric atmospheric circulation. The large decadal variations in the Southern Ocean carbon sink suggest a rather dynamic ocean carbon cycle that varies more in time than previously recognized.

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Reader Comments (18)

Annnnd I hear they are already trying to claim that this will cause problems for sea-life in the region.

Sep 11, 2015 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterClimateOtter

Surely the science was settled back in 1997. These scientists are deniers and will be denied further funding.

Sep 11, 2015 at 10:26 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Everyone should know by now that anything with Corinne Le Quere's name attached to it is going to be alarmist nonsense. Her record is appalling.

Sep 11, 2015 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Perhaps one major common thread that runs through much of warmist climatology is ignoring cyclicality, together with the pessimistic belief that things can only get worse.

Sep 11, 2015 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

It's built on observations. Maybe they forgot to adjust them.

Seven years after this paper finds the trend reversing there were still papers being published saying the opposite? The papers from 2007-2009 were quite apparently (I haven't read them) wrong at the time they were written if the turnaround started at least 5 years before.

Some difficult questions for the original authors that will never be asked.

Sep 11, 2015 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Just wait.... the greater the ocean sink....more CO2 in the oceans ...more ocean acidification!! All sea life is doomed!

Common sense will never prevail with this lot.

Sep 11, 2015 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

Universites must be packed full of people who brainstorm alarmist claims in order to attract public funding. The ideal subject should be catastrophic, impossible to prove and related to climate change.

The huge amounts of money squandered on so called climate research could have so much more productive uses.

Sep 11, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Corinne Le Quere is of course a product of the Tyndall Centre, Mike Hulme's millennium triumph. He has since tried to row away from a lot of the nonsense he helped to generate, but the damage was done, with Tyndall being a significant adviser to government, with people like Corinne Le Quere, Kevin Anderson driving the scares. In 2007, with the departure of Hulme, former IPCC head and Gore adviser Bob Watson became Director of Strategy at the very same Tyndall Centre.

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/no_fossil_fool.html

"Following from the 1988 “Global Warming is Here, says Hansen”, there was great hurrying and scurrying for grant money. New climate institutions proliferated world wide. In the UK, the University of East Anglia, (UEA) was ahead of the field in the bid for an additional prestige climate institute, with what was to become the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Their work is very much concerned with social engineering of the acceptance of human induced climate change.

Professor Mike Hulme, described then as a Reader in Climatology, but soon to become founding Director of the new Centre, explained the details in an e-mail requesting support from the Tata Energy Research Institute in 1999. He wrote to Dr Pachauri’s associate, Dr Sujata Gupta.

28th Sept 1999
From Mike Hulme
To Sujata Gupta, Ph.D. Policy Analysis Division, TERI

This may well not be news to you, but the UK government has recently requested bids from UK universities to house a new 'National Climate Change Centre'. The Centre would receive funds of 2 million pounds sterling, (~$3.2M) per year for (at least initially) five years. The role of the Centre would be to compliment (sic) existing work on climate modelling and data analysis (IPCC WGI areas) by focusing on 'solutions' (mitigation and adaptation options and their implementation), specifically for the UK government and business community, but within a global context.

UEA is making a bid for this Centre. If UEA were to succeed in its bid for the Centre, then it would seek to develop strong links with other institutions abroad in order to strengthen its own intellectual base and, through such links, to contribute to the development and implementation of the science. We would see TERI as one of these Supporting International Organisations."

The contest was now down to two bidders for the new Institute with a choice between UEA and Imperial College. TERI, via Dr Gupta, was initially offering sole support to the UEA bid, but then a problem arose. In one of his global moves and just six days after Dr Gupta’s e-mail, Dr Pachauri officially launched a UK branch of TERI, known as TERI-Europe January 25th 2000. This put Dr Gupta in a quandary, as the new TERI- Europe was then approached by the Imperial consortium to support them as the new UK Climate Centre.

In fact, whilst January 25th 2000 was the official launch, TERI-Europe had actually been incorporated in June 1999. It appears Teri-Europe was so hush hush Pachauri didn’t even tell his close colleague Dr Gupta.

The outcome was that TERI wished to be “part of the project”, (the new UK Climate Centre) whoever was successful and therefore supported both on a “non-exclusive” basis. As it turned out, UEA were the eventual bid winners, with some support from TERI and the Tyndall Centre was formed with Mike Hulme at its head. The centre had been in operation for less than two years when the question of electing a new IPCC chairman arose in April 2002. The successful candidate was Dr Pachauri.

A grateful Dr Mike Hulme, now happily ensconced as Director of his Tyndall Centre, was quite supportive of the new appointee.

“Phil,
I can't quite see what all the fuss is about Watson - why should he be re-nominated anyway? Why should not an Indian scientist chair IPCC."

The myth that Pachauri was a "scientist" has been promulgated many times since, including by most of the MSM, the EU and other governments. He was found guilty earlier this year by Teri's governing council of sexual harassment of a Teri employee. A legal battle continues.

Sep 11, 2015 at 11:49 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

...The large decadal variations in the Southern Ocean carbon sink suggest a rather dynamic ocean carbon cycle that varies more in time than previously recognized....<./i>

The existence of multi-decadal variations in Global Average Temperatures suggests a rather dynamic World Climate that varies more in time than previously recognized.

There. Fixed that for you...

Sep 11, 2015 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

dennisa: Are you really sure that "[sic]" is warranted in this:

The role of the Centre would be to compliment (sic) existing work on climate modelling and data analysis

After all, it seems that no model is ever criticized, nor eliminated from consideration in multi-model ensembles. Every new GCM version is hailed as an important advancement on the science, even if it's no better at prediction than the prior ones. Complimenting seems to be a routine part of the assignment.

Sep 11, 2015 at 5:11 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Heat sink paper flushed round bend, and out to sea. Climate science to follow shortly.

Sep 11, 2015 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Is this another case of natural variation being greater than previously thought?

Sep 12, 2015 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Kevin Marshall, no climate scientist previously thought.

The evidence is overwhelming, and more conclusive than anybody previously thought possible.

Sep 12, 2015 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The late Professor Stephen Schneider (and others ) used the "bathtub" analogy to explain how increasing greenhouse gases would cause an otherwise balanced bath of carbon dioxide ( the water content) to overflow, when the tap was being turned on more fully ( increasing emissions) and the plug hole ( carbon sinks) was narrowed or saturated.
He used the analogy on various occasions without explaining ,as I recall, how we could be certain of -
(A) The size of the bathtub,
(B) How narrow or wide the plug hole might be.
This latest paper seems to confirm James Lovelock's view that " we haven't got the physics right yet".

Sep 13, 2015 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterHerbert

The bathtub analogy used by Professor Schneider can be seen in the Insight program where he debates the 52 sceptics. It is available on YouTube
. A sceptical GP, Dr. Ian Rivlin queries how the human contribution of about 3% compared to natural CO2 production can be the "control knob" of the climate. Schneider resorts to the bathtub analogy and says that the natural emissions and removal of CO2 in the system ( including the oceans, presumably) are ' in balance' and man's 3% additions accumulating year on year are the cause of the global warming problem. The GP contests this accumulating build up and is dismissed as "wrong".
Are the natural exchanges "in balance"? What is the capacity of the oceans to handle CO2 ?
Is the bathtub analogy valid?

Sep 13, 2015 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterHerbert

Herbert, did Schneider's bath tub have ice at both ends, but never meeting in the middle, to allow sub surface gas to bubble away? Sudden eruptions of trapped gas remain a nightmare scenario for many climate science experts, but become reality for their students during longer lectures.

Sep 13, 2015 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Herbert -
The bathtub analogy -- here, for instance -- seems a reasonable one, as far as it goes. However, the fact that the "outflow" (carbon uptake on land and in the ocean) has increased over time as pCO2 has increased, suggests that carbon sinks are not weakening. To extend the metaphor, as the bathtub gets more full, the pressure at depth increases, forcing more water down the drain. All of which casts doubt on long-term (centennial and millennial) projections which assume very long recovery times.

Sep 13, 2015 at 3:45 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

HaroldW,
Thanks for the link to the Natinal Geographic diagram of the " bathtub" analogy, which is obviously in wide use. Your further comment that the evidence is that carbon sinks are not weakening is most helpful. Likewise golf charlie's point.

Sep 13, 2015 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterHerbert

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