Bartemis: on mass balance and the cause of changing levels of atmospheric CO2

Posted: October 26, 2015 by tallbloke in Analysis, atmosphere
Tags: ,

It is very clear that, at the very least in the modern era, CO2 is essentially governed by a temperature modulated process, and human inputs are not temperature modulated. The rate of change of atmospheric CO2 concentration is essentially proportional to properly baselined temperature anomaly

The match with the satellite temperatures is best, but for a longer term, there is a pretty good match with Southern hemisphere temperatures

But, that is no surprise since SH temperatures match the satellite record fairly well, with the NH temperatures after 2000 diverging

For over 100 years, NH and SH track closely. Then, suddenly, vroom, they diverge. Circumstantial evidence, at least, that the NH temperatures have suffered from dubious and arbitrary “adjustments”.

Getting back to the SH temperature record and the match with the rate of change of atmospheric CO2: it is here, in the rate domain, that the fingerprints of the culprit can be discerned. Attempting to match temperature to CO2 directly in the modern era is a low value exercise – you can match any low order polynomial sequence to it.

It is here, in the rate domain, where the variations can be matched 1:1 with the temperature record. The arrow of causality is obviously from temperature to CO2, as supposing that temperatures are related to the rate of change of CO2 leads to the absurd proposition that CO2 could rise arbitrarily high, but once it stopped rising, temperatures would revert to what they were initially.

When you match those variations with an appropriate scale factor, you also match the trend. Human emissions also have a trend. There is little to no room for them which is not already explained by the temperature relationship. Ergo, they have negligible effect.

I suspect the reason that there is an integral relationship is that there is a continuous stream of CO2 into and out of the oceans via upwelling and downwelling. Any temperature induced net imbalance between those flows leads to a persistent accumulation in the surface oceans, and thence to the atmosphere.

At some point in this debate, on the part of those who want humans to be in the driver’s seat, you will encounter the faux “mass balance” argument. This argument goes as follows.

We have natural inputs N, natural sink activity S, and human inputs H. The rate of change of atmospheric level L is then

L = N + H – S

It is observed that L is approximately 1/2 of H, hence

N – S := -0.5*H

Since natural sources are less than natural sinks, nature cannot be the driving force.

Tommy rot. Sink activity is a dynamic feedback response. As such, there is a portion of the sinks which responds to natural forcing, call it SN, and a portion that responds to human inputs, call it SH. We have

N – SN := -0.5*H + SH

SH can be any value between 0.5*H and total H. If it is greater than 0.5*H, then nature on its own is a net source.

People invested in the naive, stupid, and jejune “mass balance” argument have a mental block. They ask, how is it possible for the rise to be natural if nature in its entirety is a net drain? After all, you cannot increase a quantity if you are always subtracting away from it.

The answer is that this is a problem in dynamic flows. There is a consistent flow into the system, and a consistent flow out. When you have such a flow regime, there are two ways that you can increase the amount in the reservoir: 1) put more flow in, 2) take less flow out. Nature then can be seen as the source of the rise if it is taking less out than it otherwise would be, i.e., if N – S is less negative than it would be if nature on its own were not a net source.

The temperature relationship above establishes unequivocally that the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 is essentially entirely a natural process. Facile arguments like the faux mass balance above are rationalizations using flawed logic to establish original sin in the CO2 religious canon.

  1. rishrac says:

    Nature is currently sinking at least 7 billion metric tons per year year more than was produced in 1965. NOAA estimates that 19 B is sinking each year. I have it at 24 to 25 B. At an estimated 19 B making its way into the atmosphere the ppm should be between 4 to 7, not below 3. For instance, in 1965 12 B was released, of that the rise was 1.03 ppm. ( even so I show a 10% difference). Half of that was sunk. The current sink capacity overwhelms the total produced in the 1960 s.

    Also, from the co2 record, it is easy to see a pattern where sunspot activity AND cosmic ray data influence the amount of co2 ppm each year. It is not solely sunspot activity.

    It looks like CAGW lifted a paragraph right from a book published in 1965 on weather regarding co2. They built the entire AGW on it including temperature rises. Didn’t even bother to change the temperature amounts. They conviently left off the information from the IGY during the active solar year and the following minimum in 1964 that showed the sun having a direct effect on earth’s weather… what do I know about climate… which the IPCC has said that the sun is stable and has no effect on weather/climate. And their models reflect as much.

    Where is all that co2 going? Is that part of the natural cycle? I can guess why they sent up a satellite to observe co2 levels around the earth. It sort of dispels the notion that co2 lasts hundreds if not 1000 s of years in the atmosphere. And it has to be disquieting as to the notion that they can tell where co2 comes from by isotope concentration. I’m thinking they have no clue as to what causes a build up. The current sink is way too large in comparison to anything prior to 1970. They may have to adjust the numbers on this to get them in line with CAGW

    Note that the sink is 19 to 25 B each and every year for at least the last 5 years out of an estimated 38 B that is produced each year.

  2. tallbloke says:

    The biosphere gulps in CO2 like a drowning man briefly coming up for air. We live on a CO2 starved planet.

  3. rishrac says:

    It might be worse than we think. A different kind of tipping point where the rate of increase in co2 is exceed by the sink. A couple of other questions come to mind. One is if the sink has been constant, and we only added 1 ppm in 1965, then what or where was the other 19 B coming from? That would be outside the cycle of release and capture. Two, if we stopped all fossil fuel burning right now, the numbers would turn negative immediately. Even half might have some serious conquenceous.

    If CAGW was right about the math, I mean IF, then even with the increase in co2 then temperature is actually falling only mitigated by co2. Then any decrease in the total co2 would slam us back into an early ice age quickly. The sink could grow alarming fast, if it isn’t already. I just thought of this…. so I haven’t researched it. On a time scale of 50 years is a blink of the eye.

  4. oldbrew says:

    They’re still ignoring the fact that most of the so-called greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere is water vapour. Even if CO2 is doubled there’s still going to be around 10 times more water vapour than CO2.

    Using Dr Tim Ball’s iceberg analogy: if CO2 is what you see, water vapour is what you don’t see – because AGW propagandists like to submerge it.

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    After you think about it a while, you will realize that the the bottom of glacial cycles were are at starvation levels for plants ( 180 ppm ) and the world becomes a nearly dead frozen dust ball.

    Now note what Oldbrew said. Think watervapor is higher, or lower, at the frozen end of a glacial?

    It is ALL a water cycle, driven by outside events, and the only time you get large crop yields from plenty of CO2 is during the brief Interglacial cycles.

    IF we collectively had 1/2 a brain, we would be doing everything possible to increase CO2 in the air. Far too much is trapped in carbonate rocks, carbonate deposition from the oceans (shells and ‘gut rocks’ from fish) and similar.

    During the Little Ice Age there were reports of getting only 6 or 8 grains of wheat back for each one planted. It was that bad. Most folks attribute this to the cold. I have to wonder if CO2 levels were not ‘near crashed’ in the cold spike…

    Enjoy the humid warmth with great plant food while we have it. It will not last. Best case is about 2k more years. Worst case is “starting now”. My best fit guess is “in 300 years, the end begins”. That is when lunar tidal and solar warming cycles both take a bigger dip…

  6. rishrac says:

    Not surprised that the page for the years of total co2 per year from NOAA are gone, or I can’t find them. I did write them down… of interest in looking for it I found an article from the BBC News dated March 2015 by Helen Briggs from data from IEA that co2 emissions had stalled at 32 gigatonnes.. Which is different than NOAA at 38 The 32 would line up with half going into the ocean and the land and the other half making its way into the atmosphere which gives the right amount of co2 ppm, As I said before the 38 I’m missing about 6 The year that I have where it crossed the 32 mark was 2009. It continued to grow about 1 additional each year.
    I wonder if they are measuring the co2 increase and working backwards or estimating actual production from fossil fuels. Worst case is that they see they have a problem and are trying to make the numbers fit.
    This wasn’t of much interest to me when I first looked at it. I wished I’d taken better notes because I am interested now. If I don’t find that page, this will be a pain.
    The sink is obliviously expanding. I want to know if it is accelerating where it will overtake fossil fuel production of co2. and at the current rate, when.

  7. rishrac says:

    @ em smith… sooner is what I’m concerned about. Prior to the 1970’s, global warmth was considered a good thing. Ironically, to the point of dumping carbon black to warm up the Arctic. Which some scientist say they are finding in the ice on Greenland and I believe, but not certain in the Arctic as well. That would be a hoot if years ago they did that and the carbon is still there. The Russians became concerned about a warmer Arctic because not as much rain might not fall on the steppes where they grew wheat.

  8. Brett Keane says:

    As it happens, I’ve been watching the CO2 graphs with interest. Similarly, because one of the bases of my scientific training is Plant Science in NZ, sources and sinks are ‘meat and drink’ to me, I was understanding of what Murry Salby was/is telling us there. Indeed, something is going on that is not in the purview of the climate hippies.

  9. rishrac says:

    The growth rate of co2 seems to have peaked in 1998 at 2.93 ppm.
    1999 0.93 ppm 2000 1.62ppm 2001 1.58ppm 2002 2.53ppm 2003 2.29ppm
    2004 1.56ppm 2005 2.52ppm 2006 1.76ppm 2007 2.22ppm 2008 1.60ppm
    2009 1.89ppm 2010 2.42ppm 2011 1.88ppm 2012 2.65ppm 2013 2.05ppm
    2014 2.13ppm
    The question here is are the co2 still expanding in spite of 16 years of increasing co2 production of about a billion metric ton increase year after year? Production hasn’t gone backwards.

    Now I’ve indicated that the IEA has 32 B and NOAA from where I got most of this information had 38 B, and if you do the math between how much should be there, what NOAA says is being sunk is about 6 B. I certainly know the difference between a metric ton and an English one. I have a hard time believing that NOAA would post an English measurement. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.

    The point is that this year they are saying there was no increase in the production of co2. Do I believe that? Eight of the last 16 years have been below 2 ppm increase? Were any of the 3 years 1999,2000, and 2001 equal to the amount of co2 produced in 1965 at 12 B? Is it getting increasingly harder to add co2?

    I have it written that NOAA used metric tons. For 2013, it was 36.63 BMT. Doing the calculations for that year, supposing half went into the ocean and land, (quite a lot) you can work backwards to find the weight of 2.05 ppm needed to cause that increase. That leaves 7.5 BMT missing. NOAA also used a formula.. 3.67.. Using that, I got a little over 8 BMT missing. The numbers come out really close either using molecular weight of the gasses, the weight of the total atmosphere or the 3.67

    I wonder if they put that out there to deliberately confuse if they did state it in English weight. I wonder why they would do that? From any of those years from 1998 onward co2 ppm should have been above 3.

  10. tallbloke says:

    Rishrac, thanks for bringing some useful numbers to the site. Our own model predicts CO2 rise to peak and flatten out around 230, but time will tell. Rate of change is an important issue, and I’m wondering how we can use OCO2 data to confirm or falsify Mauna Loa data.

  11. rishrac says:

    There is also another problem. The oscillation of co2 dependent on the NH summer. Right now the ppm is 397. It will uptick as winter comes. Since co2 has been shown to be well mixed, why is there an oscillation at all? There is summer in the SH. If they arguing that land absorbs more co2, the percent is only 2. Land only comprises 30% of the surface. The southern oceans are a much bigger expanse, therefore capable of sinking much more co2.

    Which also raises an interesting point. If in winter we burn more fossil fuel to keep warm, wouldn’t stand to reason that a moderating climate would lead to a substantial amount of less fossil fuel burned. A huge part of the utility bill during the winter months is turning the furnace on. I loved the winter of 1998. We saved an incredible amount that year. Also, the state and cities saved a lot of money, and fuel, by not having to plow and salt the roads.

    Now here is central issue regarding co2, why was the increase so high when the entire NH burned a lot less fossil fuel. Followed by the next year which was lower than in 1965 which we only put out 12 BMT? I use 1965 because that is a reliable number.

    Something isn’t right. The swing in levels of co2 will range from 397 to 402 ppm, a difference of 5, solely on the NH? The increased sink is only occurring in the NH ? So in 6 months the NH produces more than twice the amount needed to raise the co2 level in absolute terms. We’d have to produce more than 38 BMT in 6 months to raise the level by 5 ppm. That’s the budget for the whole world for the whole year. It drops 3, but total increase is 2. All this information was, WAS, on the NOAA website.

  12. rishrac says:

    Here is something curious. According to J. Schlorrer in 1994 stated that every 7.8 gigatons of co2 removed decreases 1 ppm of co2 in the atmosphere. On Climate Consent website they’ve stated that since 1751, and I think the date was 2011, that 356 Billion Metric tons were produced from fossil fuels. I like BMT because everybody knows how much a billion metric is rather than a confusing amount that might be off by 200 million. Determining the co2 ppm increase since that time dividing the total 356 by 7.8 yields only 46 ppm. If the preindustrial amount was 280ppm, the current amount shouldn’t be anywhere near 400 ppm. Now, there are methods like the total amount of co2 in the atmosphere and the proportion of co2 that’s added. Now if half that amount was sunk that would leave us with 23 ppm increase. Further climate consent predicted that to keep temps under 2 C, we would have to produce no more than 565 BMT by 2050 to keep the co2 level under 400ppm. They also predicted that level would be reached by 2028 under current levels. Now add the 46 ppm plus the 280 gives about 326 ppm, then doing the math yields about 72.43 ppm which when totaled gives the current 400ppm, about.

    Something’s off. We are already at 400 ppm and we didn’t released 565 BMT. Here’s another way, currently out of 38 BMT released last year only 19 made its way into the atmosphere of which raised the co2 level by 2.5 ppm. If 356 BMT were released then dividing 19 into the 356 released from 1751 yields the same number, about 46.8 ppm. In 2011 the co2 level should have only been, being generous, 326 ppm.

    How did we get to 400 ppm?

  13. oldbrew says:

    Ocean outgassing has to be included when oceans are warming. Here’s one version of how it might work.

    Click to access plattner.pdf

    NB ocean warming can also slow down or stop, whether now or later.

  14. rishrac says:

    Of course ocean outgassing among others. I’m using facts and numbers from the global warming community that don’t add up correctly or at all. They are claiming certain things, and I’m saying, you said this and it appears to be right, so how did you get here? Seriously 75 ppm out of 400 +/- 10 ?

    Refigure that back to 335 ppm, including the last 5 years. I have some very sharp questions for them. Where are they going to find that much co2? How is that going to change the temperature record which is so dependent on co2? Somebody was telling a tale?

  15. oldbrew says:

    It’s possible that the ‘officially’ quoted CO2 numbers are, let’s say, inaccurate.

  16. rishrac says:

    CAGW are masters at denying evidence that is not in support of their cause. I’m sure that no matter how tight I tighten the noose with the co2 record, they’ll twist it somehow. Or just adjust the record or the official numbers will disappear. They maybe hard at work on this as we speak.
    Note the current effort to claim the MWP never happened based on a trace element in rocks in Greenland. All the other evidence isn’t important. Written records, forensics, food production, pollen, ice core

    There is a problem with the quoted numbers .. that total produced from 1750 to 2011, there wasn’t any of it sunk and it’s still short 75 ppm. That time period overlaps when half of the co2 according to official numbers was being sunk. And that sinking is offical. Too many problems with numbers.

  17. oldbrew says:

    Once the lies and cover-ups start, there’s no way back for the perpetrators.