Archive for the ‘Carbon cycle’ Category


Nature’s carbon cycle still working as expected.
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Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have contributed to a rise in wood volume or biomass of forests in the US, according to a new study.

The research, published recently in the Journal Nature Communications, found that elevated carbon levels have led to a consistent increase in wood volume in 10 different temperate forest groups across the US, says The Independent.

By bulking up this way, trees are helping shield Earth’s ecosystem from the impacts of global warming, say scientists, including those from the Ohio State University.

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Arctic sea ice [image credit: Geoscience Daily]


The authors propose that sea-ice formation is the key factor and not biology. In their paper, we read: ‘Results: Carbon dioxide is very strongly correlated with sea ice dynamics, with the carbon dioxide rate at Mauna Loa lagging sea ice extent rate by 7 months.’ However, drawing conclusions from correlations can go wrong. The authors conclude: ‘If sea ice does not drive the net flux of these gases, it is a highly precise proxy for whatever does. Potential mechanisms should be investigated urgently.’
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Could we be wrong about the annual cycle of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? – asks Net Zero Watch.

That’s the suggestion by a pair of distinguished Oxford zoologists Clive Hambler and Peter Henderson who have just published a paper that could change our understanding about one of the key observations of this greenhouse gas.

They propose that sea-ice formation is the key factor and not biology.

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CO2 is not pollution


In the end nature determines how much of the trace gas carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, via the carbon cycle. Certain human activities may alter the numbers up or down temporarily. There’s vast expense, including lots of pipelines nobody wants, with no known finishing line in so-called ‘carbon capture’.
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Up to a fifth of emissions cuts from the Inflation Reduction Act are expected to come from carbon capture technologies, but there are major technical and political hurdles, says Climate Home News.

US president Joe Biden is expected to sign off a sweeping climate, energy and health care bill on Tuesday (16 August). It contains about $370 billion to foster clean energy development and combat climate change, constituting the largest federal climate investment in history.

Several studies project that its climate and energy provisions could enable the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by around 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

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The ocean carbon cycle [credit: IAEA]


“Based on our model calculations, we assume that current estimates of oceanic carbon uptake must be substantially corrected upwards”, said one researcher. A major revision, of ‘roughly 10% of our carbon budget’, is suggested. Phytoplankton hold the key.
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Phytoplankton need light and nutrients to grow. The microscopic algae rarely find both at the same time in sufficient quantities in the ocean. In the upper water layers, they usually lack nutrients, and further down, they lack light.

A new study led by the Helmholtz Center Hereon now says: Phytoplankton can migrate back and forth between deeper layers and the water surface.

If this were confirmed, it would have enormous consequences for the calculations of the natural carbon pump and thus for current calculations of the carbon budget.

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CO2 is not pollution


The researchers are not going overboard with positivity, but seem clear that the Earth’s carbon cycle is still working much as expected. Unsurprisingly perhaps, they theorise problems might occur by 2100 if some presently unknown limit is approached, but say ‘the Twilight Zone region of the ocean’ needs more research. In short, so far so good.
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The amount of carbon stored by microscopic plankton will increase in the coming century, predict researchers at the University of Bristol and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

Using the latest IPCC models (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the team expects the “biological pump”—a process where microscopic plants, often called phytoplankton, take up carbon and then die and sink into the deep ocean where carbon is stored for hundreds of years—to account for between 5 and 17% of the total increase in carbon uptake by the oceans by 2100.

Their findings were published today in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), says Phys.org.

Lead author Dr. Jamie Wilson, of the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, explained, “The biological pump stores roughly double the amount of carbon dioxide that is currently in our atmosphere in the deep ocean. Because plankton are sensitive to climate change, this carbon pool is likely to change in size, so we set out to understand how this would change in the future in response to climate change by looking at the latest future projections by IPCC models.”

Microscopic organisms called plankton, living in the sunlit surface of the ocean, use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. When these plankton die, their remains rapidly sink down through the “Twilight Zone” of the ocean (200–1000m), where environmental factors, such as temperature and oxygen concentration, and ecological factors, such as being eaten by other plankton, control how much reaches the deep ocean where the carbon from their bodies is stored away from the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years.

Warming of the oceans slows down the circulation, increasing the time that carbon is stored in the deep ocean.

Contributing author Dr. Anna Katavouta, who worked alongside early-career scientist Dr. Chelsey Baker, both from the National Oceanography Centre, added, “Our research found a consistent increase in the carbon stored in the ocean by the biological carbon pump over the 21st century in the latest IPCC model projections. In contrast, we found a decline in the global export production (the amount of organic matter, such as dead plankton, sinking below the ocean surface), which suggests that export production may not be as accurate a metric for the biological carbon pump than previously thought. We demonstrated that the organic matter flux at 1000 meters is instead a better predictor of long-term carbon sequestration associated with the biological carbon pump. This outcome will help us to better understand the processes that control the biological carbon pump and to predict more reliably how much of the carbon released due to human activity will be stored in the ocean in the future.”

However, the IPCC models have no consistent representation of the environmental and ecological processes in the Twilight Zone. This leads to a large uncertainty in how much carbon dioxide originating from the atmosphere the biological pump will store beyond the end of the century.

In theory, after 2100, carbon storage by the biological pump could stall and instead may start acting as a source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which could exacerbate climate change further.

Full article here.

Photosynthesis: nature requires carbon dioxide


A Climate Overshoot Commission (COC?) will try to dream up ways of altering nature’s carbon cycle. The mind boggles at the futility.
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Fifteen former leaders and ministers are set to address sensitive questions on the role of CO2 removal and geoengineering in climate action, reports Climate Home News.

The chances of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5C, the toughest goal of the Paris Agreement, are increasingly slim. “Well below 2C” is a stretch.

Yet there has been little discussion at an international level on how to handle “overshoot” of those goals. A high-powered commission due to launch in May aims to break the silence.

Climate diplomats are finalising a 15-strong lineup of former presidents, ministers and representatives of international organisations to explore options for deep adaptation, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and geoengineering, Climate Home News can reveal.

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Antarctic sea ice [image credit: BBC]


The obvious conclusion would be that the climate models are wrong, due to application of incorrect climate theory. As usual, researchers cast around desperately for other alternatives, only to find natural variation preventing warming from being global.
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Antarctic sea-ice has expanded over the period of continuous satellite monitoring, which seemingly contradicts ongoing global warming resulting from increasing concentrations of greenhouse gasses, says Phys.org.

In a study, published in Nature Climate Change, an international team of scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and South Korea shows that a multi-decadal swing of the tropical sea surface temperatures and its ability to change the atmospheric circulation across large distances is in large part responsible for the observed sea-ice expansion since the late 1970s.

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The numbers don’t add up – another problem for climate models, and for supposedly ‘well-established’ science, as one researcher describes it. Existing predictions must once again be called into question.
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Virginia Tech researchers, in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, have discovered that key parts of the global carbon cycle used to track movement of carbon dioxide in the environment are not correct, which could significantly alter conventional carbon cycle models, says Phys.org.

The estimate of how much carbon dioxide plants pull from the atmosphere is critical to accurately monitor and predict the amount of climate-changing gasses in the atmosphere.

This finding has the potential to change predictions for climate change, though it is unclear at this juncture if the mismatch will result in more or less carbon dioxide being accounted for in the environment.

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The carbon cycle [credit: laurencenet.net]


Carbon cycle alarm has so far failed to materialise, this research finds.
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Researchers have constructed a new time series for global carbon emissions from deforestation, reports Phys.org.

The series is the missing link in terms of the improved understanding of the global carbon cycle, and it implies that the natural uptake of CO2 by the land and oceans is more efficient than previously assumed.

The study shows that carbon emissions from deforestation between the 1960s and 1980s were lower than previous studies had assumed.

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The ocean carbon cycle [credit: IAEA]


Having much better information about how nature’s carbon cycle is working, before attempting to apply random expensive schemes of uncertain impact to try and alter it, would surely be a sound approach, as the researchers suggest. Surprises might not be welcome ones.
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The Southern Ocean is a significant carbon sink says Phys.org, absorbing a large amount of the excess carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by human activities, according to a new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The findings provide clarity about the role the icy waters surrounding Antarctica play in buffering the impact of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, after research published in recent years suggested the Southern Ocean might be less of a sink than previously thought.

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Guest post from Doomberg. Original is posted at https://doomberg.substack.com/p/where-stuff-comes-from

this dovetails in sinister fashion with the basic idea that any sufficiently advanced technology cannot be distinguished from magic. highly evolved capitalism becomes such a technology and the largess and plenty it produces gets mistaken for a property of the universe rather than a made thing, a thing that must be created rather than simply reaped.” – el gato malo

Modern society is awash in stuff. There’s stuff at the grocery store. At the hardware store. At Amazon and eBay. We eat stuff, wear stuff, buy stuff, and store stuff. Click some buttons, swipe a card, tap a phone – and presto! Stuff appears, like magic.

At least for now.

We are a carbon-based species. Carbon forms the foundation of our bodies and the external world we experience. Almost everything we touch is carbon-based. As I type this, I’m sitting on a couch made predominantly from foamed polyurethane, my feet resting on a carpet made from synthetic nylon. I just sipped water from a bottle made of polyethylene terephthalate, which I then placed on a coffee table made of wood.

Not only is our stuff mostly based on carbon, but the energy required to manipulate materials – to make stuff – comes predominately from carbon-based feedstocks as well. While not all stuff is based itself on carbon – copper wire is made of copper, after all – we can’t make use of it without first extracting energy from carbon fuels. In other words, we can’t mine copper without carbon. Those excavators, dump trucks, and bulldozers aren’t going to run themselves.

Since energy is life, mastering the chemistry of carbon and harnessing the energy of stuff to make other stuff is core to the human endeavor.

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An IPCC scientist on twitter alerted me to this animation created by Chris Rentsch which analyses the data from the AIRS satellite measuring outgoing longwave radiation.

Here’s a still from the end of the video sequence.

As we can see, by 2019, there is a decrease in OLR at the wavelengths absorbed by CO2 (13-15um) as its atmospheric fraction increases. But we can also see that there is a much bigger increase in OLR at the wavelengths within the ‘atmospheric window’ (10-13um) where it isn’t absorbed by any atmospheric gases.

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ocean_co2

The ocean carbon cycle [credit: IAEA]

Proving once again how massively important carbon dioxide is to nature, via photosynthesis.
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Tiny algae in Earth’s oceans and lakes take in sunlight and carbon dioxide and turn them into sugars that sustain the rest of the aquatic food web, gobbling up about as much carbon as all the world’s trees and plants combined, says Phys.org.

New research shows a crucial piece has been missing from the conventional explanation for what happens between this first “fixing” of CO2 into phytoplankton and its eventual release to the atmosphere or descent to depths where it no longer contributes to global warming. [Talkshop comment – evidence-free assertion.]

The missing piece? Fungus.

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The ocean carbon cycle [credit: IAEA]


Shockingly – for some – nature’s ocean carbon cycle is functioning quite well, despite constant attempts by feckless humans to undermine it [/sarc]. Time to revisit those troublesome computer models yet again.
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The world’s oceans soak up more carbon than most scientific models suggest, according to new research, reports Phys.org.

Previous estimates of the movement of carbon (known as “flux”) between the atmosphere and oceans have not accounted for temperature differences at the water’s surface and a few metres below.

The new study, led by the University of Exeter, includes this—and finds significantly higher net flux of carbon into the oceans.

It calculates CO2 fluxes from 1992 to 2018, finding up to twice as much net flux in certain times and locations, compared to uncorrected models.

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Shetland peat bog [image credit: Shetland Times]


There’s over £1 billion at stake here, as construction is about to start and a subsea cable project costing more than £600m has been approved, if the project goes ahead. It would be the UK’s largest onshore wind farm in terms of annual electricity output.
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OVER 20 people from across the isles have signed a petition expressing concern that Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) recognition of a global climate emergency has not taken into account current evidence on the carbon value of peatland, reports Shetland News.

The petitioners say that since the original approval was given to the Viking Energy wind farm from the Scottish Government in 2012 “much of the science has fundamentally changed and we now indisputably recognise peatland as a store of carbon equal to or greater than that of rainforest”.

The petition seeks that the council considers a motion to cease immediately any entity involved in the “destruction of peatlands”.

It points to the current work taking place at Upper Kergord as peat is extracted to make way for an access track to a planned converter station.

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Looks like another setback for those looking for solutions to imaginary problems.
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Planting huge numbers of trees to mitigate climate change is “not always the best strategy”—with some experimental sites in Scotland failing to increase carbon stocks, a new study has found.

Experts at the University of Stirling and the James Hutton Institute analysed four locations in Scotland where birch trees were planted onto heather moorland—and found that, over decades, there was no net increase in ecosystem carbon storage, reports Phys.org.

The team—led by Dr. Nina Friggens, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Stirling—found that any increase to carbon storage in tree biomass was offset by a loss of carbon stored in the soil.

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The ocean carbon cycle [credit: IAEA]


The Woods Hole researchers find ‘the efficiency of the ocean’s “biological carbon pump” has been drastically underestimated’, with inevitable implications for climate modelling and assessments. Given that the oceans hold 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere, this must matter.
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Every spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the ocean surface erupts in a massive bloom of phytoplankton, says Phys.org.

Like plants, these single-celled floating organisms use photosynthesis to turn light into energy, consuming carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in the process.

When phytoplankton die or are eaten by zooplankton, the carbon-rich fragments sinks deeper into the ocean, where it is, in turn, eaten by other creatures or buried in sediments.

This process is key to the “biological carbon pump,” an important part of the global carbon cycle.

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Follow that termite!

Posted: February 25, 2020 by oldbrew in Batteries, Carbon cycle, Emissions, research
Tags: , ,

Termite mound in Australia [image credit: Wikipedia]


So termites could lead us to the solution to…
CO2-generating termites? The wizardry of would-be planet savers – or could it be the sharpness of opportunists? – never ceases to amaze.

Hidden metal deposits needed to transition the world to low emission technologies can be discovered using metallic blue crusts in soils and on termite mounds as signposts, according to new research from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

CSIRO’s study in the southern Pilbara region of WA used new advances in sample analysis to show how metallic blue crusts, known as manganese crusts, display unique zinc signatures that indicate the presence of other base metals in the surrounding area, reports Technology.org.

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The carbon cycle [credit: laurencenet.net]


This seems to be underlining the futility of pretending that humans could somehow control or manage nature’s carbon cycle, to satisfy a strange ‘greenhouse gas’ obsession.

Lakes and ponds are the final resting place for many of the Earth’s plants. Rivers collect much of the planet’s dead organic matter, transporting it to rest in calmer waters, says Phys.org.

But on a microscopic scale, lakes are anything but calm. An invisible metropolis of microbes feeds on these logs and leaves, producing greenhouse gases as a byproduct.

As a result, lakes may be responsible for as much as a quarter of the carbon in the atmosphere—and rising.

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Himalayan region


The report says: ‘Many scientists believe that ocean acidification from high carbon dioxide levels will reduce the calcium carbonate in algae, especially in the near future. The data, however, suggest the opposite occurred over the 15 million years before the current global warming spell.’ Evidence meets ‘greenhouse gas’ based climate theory, which struggles. Time for a re-think?

A key theory that attributes the climate evolution of the Earth to the breakdown of Himalayan rocks may not explain the cooling over the past 15 million years, according to a Rutgers-led study.

The study in the journal Nature Geoscience could shed more light on the causes of long-term climate change, says Phys.org.

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