Climate Models Fail: Climate Warming Experiment Finds Unexpected Results 

Posted: January 5, 2019 by oldbrew in Carbon cycle, climate, modelling, research, trees
Tags: ,


Climate models are known to have their shortcomings, whether due to use of faulty theories or shortage of computing skills.

H/T The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

Tropical forests store about a third of Earth’s carbon and about two-thirds of its above-ground biomass.

Most climate change models predict that as the world warms, all of that biomass will decompose more quickly, which would send a lot more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But new research presented at the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Fall Meeting contradicts that theory.

Stephanie Roe, an ecology Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia, measured the rate of decomposition in artificially warmed plots of forest in Puerto Rico. She found biomass in the warmed plots broke down more slowly than samples from a control site that wasn’t warmed.

Her results indicate that as the climate warms, forest litter could pile up on the ground, instead of breaking down into the soil. Less decomposition means less carbon dioxide released back into the atmosphere. But it also means less carbon taken up by the soil, where it’s needed to fuel microbial processes that help plants grow.

“These results could have significant implications on the carbon cycle in a warmer future,” Roe said.

Roe said there are few empirical studies of how tropical forests will respond to climate change. She set out to address this gap in June of 2017, when she and her research team travelled to El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. They landed at a site called TRACE—the Tropical Responses to Altered Climate Experiment.

TRACE is the first-ever long-term warming experiment conductedin a tropical forest. It was established by the US Forest Service in 2016 for research like Roe’s. The site consists of three hexagonal plots of land enclosed by a ring of infrared heaters raised four meters above the ground, and three more plots enclosed by fake heaters that are used as the “control” forest.

Roe collected leaves from the plots, dried them out in the lab, and then returned them to the plots randomly. In addition to the native plants, she also included black and green tea, and popsicle sticks to represent woody biomass, to see how different materials would respond to the warming.

The heaters were programmed to continuously heat the plots to four degrees higher than the ambient temperature of the forest. The experiment was supposed to run for a full year, but at the beginning of October, Hurricane Maria swept across the island, destroying the TRACE sites.

Roe was back in Virginia when the storm struck. She had collected samples from the first few months of the experiment, and they were already showing signs of significant decomposition, so she decided to go ahead with the analysis based on what she had.

And the results were not what she thought they would be.

Continued here.

  1. JB says:

    What do those who compost, know anyway?

  2. DB says:

    It would be interesting to research the combined effects of warmth and increased carbon dioxide levels.

  3. Gary Pearse says:

    Well the experiment was very poorly designed. 1) The warming expected is supposed to be accompanied by higher specific humidity (i.e. relative humidity would remain constant ~100%, but in warmer tropical air, it would contain more water). She might as well have put a bag of this stuff in her apartment and turned up the thermostat to get these results. Had they watered the plot, they probably would have got roughly what they thought they would.
    2) It is admirable that actual empirical, real life, experiments (not what the clime syndicate call an experiment) were done, but experimental design is not a slap dab exercise. It requires rigorous attention to details, modelling scales and realistic magnitudes of the parameters of the tests. Science-lite generalist researchers like ecologists should consult seasoned experimenters, inside and outside of their fields to be sure you haven’t left something important out. Just like you should talk to a seasoned statistician about proper reduction of data.

    Even the elevation of temperature was heavy handed. Let’s recap the theory: in a warming world, the tropics will remain essentially unchanged in temperature! The polar regions will warm the most. 4C increase in temperature for a tropical forest is far flung from any reality. Even, God forbid, if you were using Fahrenheit (and didn’t state it!).

    An article here on WUWT a few years ago by a sea science specialist from Australia opined that almost all experiments involving affects of higher CO2, acidification, and elevated temperatures as stressors on sea life were totally invalid. He gave a tutorial on proper design, care of the sea creatures and plants and so on. Idjits were virtually cooking, pickling poisoning and traumatizing shellfish with their ham-handed designs and reporting ridiculous results.

  4. Bitter@twisted says:

    This looks like another “we are all doomed” report.
    If it’s colder or hotter it’s bad.
    If only the Earth could stay at it’s “perfect” temperature, we would all be happy!

  5. stpaulchuck says:

    Gary Pearse says:
    January 5, 2019 at 4:16 pm
    I had the same immediate thought about humidity, Gary. And then there’s the rest of the lacking inputs as you noted. Well at least it would seem she’ll learn something useful about setting up an experiment, so not all is lost.

    In a way her story is iconic of the entire “climate” cabal – crap science from the get-go, total amateur hour.

  6. tom0mason says:

    Maybe Stephanie Roe needs to meet with Abigail Swann ( ) and thrash out what really goes on, because according to Swann —
    “Their results could shake up climate science. “None of the atmospheric scientists are thinking about” how plants could influence rainfall, Swann said, though hints had appeared in the scientific literature for decades. And, she added, “it blows the ecology community’s mind … that the plants over here could actually influence the plants over there.” , as she considers that great forests act as moderators of “great rivers in the sky” flow around the world maintaining these forests.
    Also there is this —
    “Such results also imply a profound reversal of what we would usually consider cause and effect. Normally we might assume that “the forests are there because it’s wet, rather than that it’s wet because there are forests,” said Douglas Sheil, an environmental scientist at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences campus outside Oslo. But maybe that’s all backward. “Could [wet climates] be caused by the forests?” he asked.

    So where does that leave Stephanie Roe and her dried tea leaves?

  7. These people really do not know their subject or how to run experiments.
    Tropical Forests are only in areas which have a) high rainfall , b) an even warm temperature and as a consequence high humidity. Any fool should know if you warm a surface it will dry out.
    My area is sub-tropical it gets a lot of rain in the summer months -Dec about 170mm, Jan 240mm, Feb 260mm, Mar 265mm and Apr 170mm. One can see plants grow – we have a tropical Qld Tree Waratah which self planted (likely birds) about 10-12 years ago and now is 15-20m high.-about 10m straight up at 100mm diameter before the first branch (they grow tall to get to the light). Tall plants need lots of water and so do the fungi and bacteria to rot the wood at the forest floor.. Even termites like some moisture -we have many varieties out in the bush away from the house and have even Echidnas in our backyard after ants and termites.

  8. ren says:

    Current pattern polar vortex in the middle of the stratosphere.

  9. oldbrew says:

    Germany: Heavy snowfall cancels flights at Munich Airport
    Date 05.01.2019

    Passengers at Munich Airport are facing flight cancellations and long delays due to continuing snowfall in southern Germany. Some 120 flights have already been canceled and more may follow, an airport official told DW.
    . . .
    The snowfall in Munich is expected to continue.

    Separately, regional Bavarian railway company Waldbahn reported that it was forced to completely halt its trains due to severe weather. Several trees fell down under the weight of snow and blocked the rails, and the cleanup would only be possible after the conditions improve, they said.

    More snow showers and sub-zero daytime temps on the way.

    Southern Germany, Austria to receive worst of European snowstorm
    AccuWeather January 05, 2019

    While disruptive snow will sweep through eastern Europe into this weekend, residents of far southern Germany and Austria will be digging out from a more significant and major snowstorm.

    A burying amount of snowfall is far from unheard of across the Alps, but this snowstorm can bring major disruptions to travel and daily routines in lower elevation cities such as Munich and Rosenheim, Germany, and Linz and Salzburg, Austria.

  10. oldbrew says:

  11. Hifast says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    Flawed experiment. Heating the test system without proportionally increasing water vapor is akin to desertification of the system. So much wrong with this study.

  12. cognog2 says:

    The quality of this so called research is so poor that it should never have seen the light of day. The university of Virginia should be ashamed of itself. where have the academic standards gone?

  13. oldbrew says:

    More assertion-based evidence-free climate waffle here…

    Climate model uncertainties ripe to be squeezed
    January 7, 2019, University of Exeter

    The latest climate models and observations offer unprecedented opportunities [aka: our cred is running out] to reduce the remaining uncertainties [aka: we’re flying blind] in future climate change, according to a paper published in Nature Climate Change by a team of 29 international authors.

    Although the human impact of recent climate change is now clear [aka: assertion 1], future climate change depends on how much additional greenhouse gas is emitted by humanity [aka: assertion 2] and also how sensitive the Earth System is to those emissions [aka: assertion 3]. Reducing uncertainty in the sensitivity of the climate to carbon dioxide emissions [aka: the science is not settled] is necessary to work-out how much needs to be done to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change [aka: assertion 4], and to meet international climate targets [aka: arbitrary nonsense].
    – – –
    Good luck with that :/

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