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Monday, October 21, 2013

Wagging the tail of the ocean at WUWT

Sou | 7:25 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

Today some very basic climate science.  Philip Mulholland has written a long article for Anthony Watts' denier blog, wattsupwiththat.  It's all about carbonate ramps. But I'm not going to write about that.

What I picked up on was this statement that Philip makes at the end.  He writes (archived here):
In the argument of which comes first: atmospheric carbon dioxide levels or warm ocean water, the geological evidence is unequivocal: The “oceanic central heating effect” dog wags the “atmospheric greenhouse gas” tail.
First of all, there is no argument that I'm aware of.  It's all in Philip's mind.  In the past when earth climate was forced, say, towards a warmer global temperature by something other than CO2, then the oceans got warmer and released carbon dioxide, which made the world warmer still.  This kept going until something happened.  For example, when the forcing stopped then the system eventually came to equilibrium, with a new global surface temperature. The oceans, having given up CO2, would have been less acidic (and warmer) after the change than before it.

This time around we are the ones adding CO2 to the air.  The increase in CO2 is not coming from the oceans it's coming from burning fossil fuels and deforestation and similar activities.  Atmospheric CO2 acts just the same as it always has since forever.  It makes earth retain more heat and get warmer.  Because of the very high amount in the atmosphere, the oceans are absorbing more CO2 than they are releasing to the air.  The partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere is so high that on balance, the oceans are increasing the uptake of CO2 even as they warm.  If we weren't adding all that CO2, and earth were warming by some other forcing then the oceans would have released CO2.  But physics shows they can't these days, because there's already so much CO2 in the air that the oceans are absorbing it.  Eventually a time will come when we stop adding more CO2 to the air than can be absorbed by the oceans.  The oceans and atmosphere will both be warmer than at present but this time the oceans are more acidic than before industrialisation, when earth was cooler, not less acidic.

I don't know whether or not Philip thinks that burning fossil fuels doesn't produce CO2.  I'd find that hard to believe because he says he had scientific training and works as a geologist.  Similarly, it's not clear whether or not Philip is referring to the present as well as the past. It may well be that he intended his article to refer only to the past.

Doug Mackie at Skepticalscience.com did an 18 part series on ocean acidification a couple of years ago.

This brochure from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology discusses the greenhouse effect.


From the WUWT comments


Peter Miller is a conspiracy theorist of the "climate hoax" type and says:
October 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm
Doug Proctor, I agree with you about how geologists are a very sceptical group of individuals.
However, a caveat is needed; this only applies to those in the private sector. Geologists in the government sector are much less likely to be sceptic, for the very simple reason that there are obvious employment consequences if they express anything other than alarmist views. And that is the nub of the problem, CAGW is the fantasy of government, or quasi-government ‘scientists’.

Michael Moon got jumped on quickly for taking on the role of the grammar police, when he wrote:
October 20, 2013 at 9:48 pm
“A vist that, even now, I consider to have been the best field study trip of my entire geoscience career.”
Am I one of only four people on this site who attended and completed high school? Could we please have a verb in this sentence?
And, seriously to all, “its” and “it’s” are two far different words, could maybe the moderator make these posts somewhat readable? How about Spell-Check, Bueller, anyone?
That being said, hot water, cold water, salty and not-so-salty, lots of oxygen and maybe a little less oxygen, NO ONE among the great unwashed voters could possibly CARE LESS, how is this helping to undo the savagery of Gore-Hansen-Schmidt-Nuccitelli? And that clown with the column at NYT?
This is POLITICS, kids, not science. Science left the building quite some time ago.

I think I know what Michael was getting at, but is he aware that "consider" and "to have been" are verbs?  Did he mean to spell "visit" wrongly? It was spelt correctly in the main article. And what do you think of Michael Moon's own grammar and punctuation?

I confess I enjoyed the response to Michael Moon from  Keith DeHavelle, though I can't agree with his third last verse:
October 20, 2013 at 10:41 pm
I have to chuckle, Michael Moon
You hit your own ‘submit’ too soon
For in your blast of snarky slices
You’ve written several comma splices
Since punctuation gives you grief
Use semicolons for relief
And of the first of sins you note
You’ve missed a verb in what you wrote:
“And that clown with the column at NYT?”
But here’s a larger point: Go light
When dishing a grammatic slight
This might be politics to you
But science must be kept in view
We’re not just ranting and vote-getting
And this you seem to be forgetting:
This is the world’s best science site
We show the skeptic side is right!
And if you think it’s crucial here
(Though education I hold dear)
An institution’s just one tool
I never did complete high school
I had two jobs and needed three
The time for school eluded me
So that diploma’s out of reach
My college time was just to teach
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

1 comment :

  1. Congratulations on the two consecutive paragraphs, the first beginning with, "First of all, there is no argument that I'm aware of. ..." and the second ending with, "... but this time the oceans are more acidic than before industrialisation, when earth was cooler, not less acidic." They are succinct and very well expressed. Their content stands in stark contrast to the pseudo-scientific, psycho babble that clogs the skeptic blog sites where opinion dominates scientific theory.

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