December 10, 2009
Greater Climate Sensitivity To CO2?

The question of climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is unsettled. If we only knew the correct level of temperature sensitivity to CO2 concentration we would have a much more accurate view of what is in store for our climate future. But no. A new paper argues that the climate is far more sensitive to CO2 changes than previously thought.

The climate may be 3050 percent more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide in the long term than previously thought, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience yesterday. 

Projections over the next hundreds of years of climate conditions, including global temperatures, may need to be adjusted to reflect this higher sensitivity.

Is this report correct? I think it illustrates how little we know about the potency of CO2 as a greenhouse warming gas. Here we are in 2009 and some researchers argue that the climate sensitivity to CO2 is much larger than previously thought. Will this turn out to be an underestimate or overestimate?

Sounds like a correlation study. Even assuming that it is possible to accurately measure temperatures millions of years ago the study doesn't prove the direction of causation.

A team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol and including the U.S. Geological Survey, studied global temperatures 3.3 to 3 million years ago, finding that the averages were significantly higher than expected from the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at the time.

These underestimates occurred because the long-term sensitivity of the Earth system was not accurately taken into account. In these earlier periods, Earth had more time to adjust to some of the slower impacts of climate change. For example, as the climate warms and ice sheets melt, Earth will absorb more sunlight and continue to warm in the future since less ice is present to reflect the sun.

We could change the albedo (reflectivity) of the planet Earth by painting roofs white and cool the planet.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 December 10 10:52 PM  Climate Trends

Fat Man said at December 11, 2009 2:31 AM:

The Hockey Team suits up and takes the (melting) ice again.

anomdebus said at December 11, 2009 12:23 PM:

I would think that if this were true, then whatever is keeping temperatures from rising as expected over the past 10 years must be stronger than expected. It seems as though they are figuring that the CO2 level must be the driver of the temperature and the opposite or some other contributing factor.

poet and engineer in one said at December 11, 2009 12:42 PM:

They are figuring on more big money research grants to study this issue over the next "hundreds of years." No one research topic has been applied more broadly or to greater effect than "climate change." It is the goose of the golden eggs indeed.

anomdebus said at December 11, 2009 1:02 PM:

How did I mess that up?

Second sentence should have been:
It seems as though they are figuring that the CO2 level must be the driver of temperature and not the opposite or some other contributing factor.

th said at December 11, 2009 2:46 PM:

oh jeezus, here we go again, if CO2 was such an influence on temperature, the slope of the temperature rise would at least be equal or greater than the rise in atmospheric CO2, it isn't even close.

th said at December 11, 2009 4:22 PM:

According to this site, arctic ice is about to meet the avg, all the while southern hemisphere ice just keeps setting new records, the ducks just won't line up for the AGW cultists.

drjohn said at December 12, 2009 8:03 AM:

This sounds like more "red noise" was needed to make the case.


Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright