Atmospheric carbon dioxide buildup unlikely to spark abrupt climate change

Jun 20, 2011

There have been instances in Earth history when average temperatures have changed rapidly, as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) over a few decades, and some have speculated the same could happen again as the atmosphere becomes overloaded with carbon dioxide.

New research lends support to evidence from numerous recent studies that suggest appears to be the result of alterations in ocean circulation uniquely associated with ice ages.

"There might be other mechanisms by which may cause an abrupt climate change, but we know of no such mechanism from the geological record," said David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor.

Battisti was part of a team that used a numerical climate model coupled with an oxygen-isotope model to determine what caused in a computer-generated episode that mimicked Heinrich events during the last ice age, from 110,000 to 10,000 years ago. Heinrich events produced huge numbers of icebergs that had broken off from glaciers.

The simulations showed the sudden increase in North Atlantic sea ice cooled the Northern Hemisphere, including the surface of the Indian Ocean, which reduced rainfall over India and weakened the Indian monsoon.

Battisti noted that while carbon dioxide-induced climate change is unlikely to be abrupt, the impacts of could be.

"When you lose a keystone species, ecosystems can change very rapidly," he said. "Smoothly retreating sea ice will cause fast warming if you live within a thousand kilometers of the ice. If warming slowly dries already semi-arid places, fires are going to be more likely."

Previous studies of carbonate deposits from caves in China and India are believed to show the intensity of monsoon precipitation through the ratio of specific . The modeling the scientists' used in the current study reproduced those isotope ratios, and they determined that the Heinrich events were associated with changes in the intensity of monsoon rainfall in India rather than East Asia.

The research is published online June 19 by Nature Geoscience.

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User comments : 27

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jscroft
1.7 / 5 (11) Jun 20, 2011
Well. That's inconvenient.
lengould100
4 / 5 (12) Jun 20, 2011
Well, so we're not likely to get a 10 degC change from CO2. Who cares, if disaster happens at 4 or 5 degC change, as many good scientists predict?
SteveL
4.7 / 5 (10) Jun 20, 2011
It's fairly obvious to me that the "experts" are still figuring this climate situation out.
I'm less concerned with climate than I am with ensuring resources are still sustainably available for humanity's needs 500 years from now and that we stop messing up the oceans, rivers, land and aquafiers with all of our crap.
zevkirsh
2.6 / 5 (16) Jun 20, 2011
this is precisely my belief, and precisely why i disregard people who call me a 'denier'.

when people ask you if 'believe' or not, it's come down to a religious/political litmus test; "are you with us or are you against us". thats what this GW business is about. sadly, even though i believe in man made global warming, i tell people who ask me that i don't and i place myself in the camp of deniers and identify with them.

there will be no abrupt changes. storms? more of them, less predictable? the weather has always been difficult for mankind, it will continue to be difficult, even if we could turn back the clock to pre-industrial times where there was no significant carbon production by mankind.

the very saddest part is that even though the global warming alarmists are wrong, there is still a very legitimate need to protect the earth , water and air from mankinds' unending greed. we are destroying the world ,and there is nothing 'we' can do to stop it . a crisis is necessary.
Arkaleus
2.9 / 5 (8) Jun 20, 2011
a crisis is necessary.


Why do we need to manufacture a crisis to address an issue that by very definition unfolds over centuries or more?

You seem to prefer reason to faith-based assessments of ideology, so why do you advocate "crisis" instead of "reason?"

A crisis is a fire, a war, a flood, or something else that exists in the present and has immediate consequences that must be addressed as a matter of survival.

We can't claim our lives are in immediate danger from GW, so how can we proclaim it as a crisis?

There is a good chance another ice age is due the northern hemisphere in 10,000 years or so, would this also be a reason to use civil resources and governments to enact measures to "prevent" it?

What we need to do is accept the consequences of reality and acknowledge that our life processes will alter our environment as much as any other life form, and accept the consequences without panic and convulsions of ideologies.
emsquared
5 / 5 (7) Jun 20, 2011
We can't claim our lives are in immediate danger from GW, so how can we proclaim it as a crisis?

I believe zevkirsh was refering to the "need to protect the earth , water and air from mankinds' unending greed." as the crisis. He admitted it's not AGW that we need to address, but the mismanagement of our resources. The degradation of environmental quality through pollution and habitat destruction. The unsustainable consumption of the resources we depend on.

And while it's not a grenade in our lap, it is being locked inside a stalled car on the train tracks.
SemiNerd
5 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2011
We can't claim our lives are in immediate danger from GW, so how can we proclaim it as a crisis?

I believe zevkirsh was refering to the "need to protect the earth , water and air from mankinds' unending greed." as the crisis. He admitted it's not AGW that we need to address, but the mismanagement of our resources. The degradation of environmental quality through pollution and habitat destruction. The unsustainable consumption of the resources we depend on.

And while it's not a grenade in our lap, it is being locked inside a stalled car on the train tracks.

I love that analogy. You have a gift for deft metaphors.
Howhot
1.8 / 5 (8) Jun 20, 2011
There have been instances in Earth history when average temperatures have changed rapidly, as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) over a few decades, and some have speculated the same could happen again as the atmosphere becomes overloaded with carbon dioxide.


In the last 1,000,000 years there has not been as much CO2 in the atmosphere as there is now. In the last decade, the global average temp ticked up a 1 degree C. Only 18 decades to go. I'm a pessimist and say 5 decades for 10C.
Telekinetic
2 / 5 (11) Jun 20, 2011
"I'm less concerned with climate than I am with ensuring resources are still sustainably available for humanity's needs 500 years from now and that we stop messing up the oceans, rivers, land and aquafiers with all of our crap."

The condition of the earth's climate and the environment are inseparable, and how you can be so cavalier about rising temperatures is stupefying.
"Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gasses produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century." That's from NASA's website. It means that species become extinct, and whole continents will struggle to feed themselves, by 2020. If I'm
Chicken Little, then you're Nero playing his fiddle while the WORLD burns!
kaasinees
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 20, 2011
Many people do not understand Global Warming is just one of the factors that will lead climate into a chain event for disaster where 99% of life as of today will not survive.
We do not just pollute the earth with CO2 and infrared radiation, but also other types of radiation, soot and resources that have accumulated into safe places like the ground.
The types of radiation and changing chemistry of our planet will trigger a chain event, it is basic logic and laws of physics.
It just takes a few degrees globally to create more forest fires, colder places in some areas while hotter in other areas will create more disasters from wind. More rainfall from the heat will create more floods. Biodiversity will die off causing a collapse of balance, destroying carbon sinks, where life will have a hard time surviving.
Life will probably prevail when we die off and earth restores balance.. small chance earth will be 100% sterile, but its still suicide.
Arkaleus
1 / 5 (3) Jun 21, 2011
You have absolutely no basis for such predictions kaasinees. There have been significant extinction events several times in the past; all of them caused by huge cosmic impacts and mega-eruptions like the Siberian traps. Even then many species survived and it was never a 99% wipeout.

Logically, the only thing that could cause a similar scale catastrophe would be another event of the same type and magnitude.

The trouble with green doom prophets is they inevitably and singularly blame the activities of people for the conditions of nature, even when our outputs are insignificant to those of natural processes. I think such extreme views have more to do with nihilistic ideology than any objective analysis of the real.

Humans are a part of the ecosystem and need to be considered a part of the earth like any other living being to emerge from it. Oppressing the liberties of others and making wild accusations against your own species seems more like the same old human errors than ecology
Telekinetic
3.2 / 5 (9) Jun 21, 2011
"Oppressing the liberties of others and making wild accusations against your own species seems more like the same old human errors than ecology"
Are you nuts? Should Union Carbide's liberties include killing thousands, or BP's to destroy the delicate aquaculture of the Gulf? It's painful enough to see the passivity of people when shown real scientific evidence of global destruction, but to defend the destruction is downright heinous.
emsquared
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 21, 2011
The condition of the earth's climate and the environment are inseparable

This is inaccurate. You can certainly say an environment (ecosystem) is in bad condition, but you cannot say a climate is in bad condition, only that a climate is in a condition that is bad for X-ecosystem/biota. The other side of that is that some other ecosystem/biota is going to like that climate just fine. Tropical and temperate climates are the most bio-diverse regions of the globe, these would undoubtedly expand with a higher average global temp. And sure, deserts may also, but the net would likely be higher bio-diversity as we're expanding multiple diverse zones and only one less diverse.
kaasinees
2.4 / 5 (5) Jun 21, 2011
Even then many species survived and it was never a 99% wipeout.

i said 99% of life, not 99% of the species, ofcourse as expected the most special environment are the waters and other areas that aren't as much affected by these events, especially around that time period. (Comprehensive reading) Anyway i did make the number up.

I think such extreme views have more to do with nihilistic ideology than any objective analysis of the real.

Laws of physics are not reality? Hmm maybe the bible is reality to you. Ever heard of catalysts or chemistry et all. You just need 0.0005% to cause a chain event. We are far more than that.

Humans are a part of the ecosystem and need to be considered a part of the earth like any other living being to emerge from it.

We are not like other species, we shape the environment for the worse or best, no other species does it at this scale.
kaasinees
2.8 / 5 (5) Jun 21, 2011
Logically, the only thing that could cause a similar scale catastrophe would be another event of the same type and magnitude.

Fallacy.
What would be more catastrophic? Us polutting the earths ecosystem with substances that are toxic to life or an asteroid that is even thought as a possiblity to be the seed of life?

Bottom line is, we are "intelligent" or "self aware". We have the choice in our actions. An asteroid does not.
kaasinees
2.8 / 5 (6) Jun 21, 2011
This is inaccurate. You can certainly say an environment (ecosystem) is in bad condition, but you cannot say a climate is in bad condition

How is climate not part of the environment? Fallacy... Go read a dictionary.
only that a climate is in a condition that is bad for X-ecosystem/biota. The other side of that is that some other ecosystem/biota is going to like that climate just fine.

Yes the climate of other planets is really good for their bio-diversity... thumbs up genius.

Tropical and temperate climates are the most bio-diverse regions of the globe

True, but a few degrees hotter, acid rain from pollution and other human activities and it is a wasteland.
these would undoubtedly expand with a higher average global temp.

you do realize that average high global temp means nothing in a local region right? IT could be 10 degrees hotter and still not make a global temp diff. And its certainly not well for a tropic.
Full of fallacies... these people ar
emsquared
1 / 5 (3) Jun 21, 2011
How is climate not part of the environment?

The problem here is you have no actual comprehension of the subject you're trying to speak on and a poor grasp on semantics. Climate has no condition, it is a condition. It is the variable, a region (environment/ecosystem) is the constant. Does this make sense to you?
thumbs up genius.

Unfortunately, no thumbs up for you. If you had any idea about what you're talking about, you would have understood I was talking about other extant terrestrial ecosystems/species. Using the Koppen-Geiger climate classification, if a region with polar climate shifts to continental climate, continental ecosystems and species will move there.
you do realize that average high global temp means nothing in a local region right?...

You really need to read and understand more about how average global temp., latitude, air currents and moisture (and altitude) determine climate before I can talk to you.
kaasinees
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 21, 2011
The problem here is you have no actual comprehension of the subject you're trying to speak on and a poor grasp on semantics. Climate has no condition, it is a condition. It is the variable, a region (environment/ecosystem) is the constant. Does this make sense to you?

Semantics?
http://dictionary...ironment
there solved it for you. idiot.
Telekinetic
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 21, 2011
http://www.epa.go...acts.pdf

Please read in its entirety before refuting.
ted208
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 22, 2011
I have been studying the history of CO2 for the last 15 years. and have seen the distortions presented by the IPPC, their loyal rent-seeking backers, pushers and the many failed carbon tax scams. All designed to separate honest people from their money. This and many other study exposes the fraud nicely.
What we should be doing with the $billions and the people resources is not fixating on CO2 tax and grab schemes that will NEVER be excepted. We need a grand scale action plan
to look after the forest, oceans, rivers the land. this involves stopping decimating the oceans with fertilizer and chemical runoff overfishing, abuse of chemicals, antibiotic and drugs, that are flushed into the sewers and land fills that end up in the oceans and water supply's, that affect all animal,fish and plant life.
If you want skeptics about CO2, like me to come on board we can be a valuable resource to push this common sense approach to protecting our Planet.
Please no tardy reply's.
emsquared
3.3 / 5 (3) Jun 22, 2011
Please read in its entirety before refuting.

Telekinetic, I've read entire papers addressing every bullet point of that pdf. And as I've said in every AGW post I've ever posted in, I don't refute that we have SOME effect on the climate.

I am just not convinced 1.) that we are entirely (or even a majority) behind whatever warming is going on and 2.) that the effects of whatever warming that will occur will be as catastrophic as the IPCC claims.

Some people (most scientists) call this being reasonable.

The zealots here call it blasphemy. And that's exactly what many people here, on both sides of the AGW argument, are: zealots.

While it's not mind-boggling that the zealots are out there, it does surprise me that the actual intellectuals here tolerate it. I shudder to think how many great minds and contributors have been chased off from being active at this place by the zealots and trolls.
Howhot
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 22, 2011
emsquared,
I am just not convinced 1.) that we are entirely (or even a majority) behind whatever warming is going on and 2.) that the effects of whatever warming that will occur will be as catastrophic as the IPCC claims.


Then you have just not 1) read enough or 2) just not observed enough. If you can't see the changes in climate and the extreme weather that is occurring across the globe then all I can say is you are the Troll you accuse others to be.
Howhot
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 22, 2011
Ted2, you have stuff so wrong it could be a joke if it wasn't funny. I've been watching weather for all my life, and I can state with certainty that right now, we are under the influence of man-made climate change. What are you POS conservatives blind as bats?
Telekinetic
2 / 5 (8) Jun 22, 2011
@ emsquared:
You seem like a decent chap and I harbor no ill will toward you. I don't know what your career is, but when over a thousand scientists say that we are spiraling down into an irreparable environmental disaster at an alarming rate, I believe them. Their careers hang in the balance by the public statements that they make, so they are very careful with these pronouncements. What's frustrating to me is that even when people, intelligent people, are hit over the head with facts from very credible sources, they still shake their heads collectively and say, "No, it can't be." When all of the self-righteousness is set aside, the facts remain the same. Cars burned leaded gas before it was banned, but there isn't a place on earth, even the most remote, where that lead can't be found in the soil. We're in big trouble, and it may already be too late. Humans tend to pick up the pieces after the fact, but the sheer size of a damaged earth precludes putting it back together.
jscroft
1 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2011
You seem like a decent chap and I harbor no ill will toward you.


Haha what a patronizing creep.
SteveL
not rated yet Jun 23, 2011
@ Telekinetic:
"If I'm Chicken Little, then you're Nero playing his fiddle while the WORLD burns!"

Nope, you misunderstand me. Our generation and the ones before us have been wasteful and greedy. I figure the piper will need to be paid eventually. My preference is that we stop dumping in the house we live and eat in and leave resources to those who may eventually learn from our mistakes. And where Nero may have had some measurable effect on the outcome of his situation, and may have actually caused it, I'm certain that my clean burning vehicle, recycling and low consumption has an insignificant effect on the world's environment. It's all about the numbers and from where I'm looking a majority of people still haven't gotten the message.
emsquared
5 / 5 (2) Jun 23, 2011
I don't know what your career is, but...

I work in the environmental industry, among other roles as an analyst, in air quality specifically. I work with regulatory bodies, like the EPA, on a daily basis.
What's frustrating to me is that even when people, intelligent people, are hit over the head with facts from very credible sources, they still shake their heads collectively and say, "No, it can't be."

It's not frustrating to me that people listen so devoutly to the IPCC, but it does frustrate me that the kind of changes the IPCC recommends focus solely on GHGs, either capturing offsetting or not emitting. I feel this approach is trying to fix the symptom, not the disease.

And what about the facts out there that provide reason for skepticism of AGW? I choose to acknowledge them equally.