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Post by thelivyjr » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:40 p

Olivier Pauluis research page

Atmospheric heat engine - Why does the atmosphere move?
. concluded ...

The Carnot cycle is probably the best known heat engine.

It was introduced by the brilliant French engineer and scientist Sadi Carnot in his seminal Reflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu (which started the whole second law business).

It is a theoretical engine – no one as far as I know as ever constructed a Carnot cycle.

The work done by a Carnot cycle is given by W=Q times T'in−T'out/T'in, where Q is the heating and T'in and T'out are the temperature of the energy source and the energy sink.

The Carnot cycle is also an optimal case: no heat engine can produce more work than a Carnot cycle for a given heating rate and temperature of the energy sources and sinks.

The atmosphere crucially does not act as a Carnot cycle.

For instance, the average surface heating is about 100 Watts per meter square.

With an average surface temperature of 288K and an emission temperature of 255K, the work done by a Carnot cycle would be about 11 Watts per meter square.

By contrast, typical estimates of the kinetic energy dissipation in the atmosphere are between 2 and 5 Watts per meter square.

The difference between the Carnot upper limit and the generation of kinetic energy can be attributed to the hydrological cycle, and in particular to two key aspect of the Earth atmosphere: (1) it rains, and (2) the atmosphere is mostly dry.

Let’s start with the role of rain.

A typical droplet of rain forms a few kilometers up in the atmosphere before falling to the Earth’s surface.

If this droplet were in free fall, its velocity would reach over 100 mph – that would make make Belgium unlivable.

Instead, raindrops are slow down by the aerodynamical drag exerted by the surrounding air and only reach a terminal velocity of a few mph.

This drag is a dissipative processes.

We used satellite data to estimate it and found a number of about 1.2 Watt per meter square, about the same order of magnitude as the wind dissipation (Pauluis and Dias, 2013).

Second, the Earth’s atmosphere is quite dry, primarily because of its active hydrological cycle.

Consider that, despite the fact that two third of the Earth are covered by Oceans, its averaged relative humidity is about 70%.

This atmospheric circulation acts as a dehumidifier that continuously removes water vapor: moist air rises and forms clouds, loses water through precipitation and is then brought back to the surface with a much lower water content.

From a thermodynamic point of view, this dehumidification can be thought of as a chemical reaction in which one reactant (water vapor) is transformed into a product (liquid water) against its natural inclination (i.e. liquid water evaporates in unsaturated air).

In the technical jargon, the Gibbs free energy of the product is larger than that of the reactant.

More importantly, this process reduces the amount of kinetic energy that can be produced (Pauluis, 2010).


Sadi Carnot, 1824: “Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres à développer cette puissance” Librairie Bachelier, 118pp.

Pauluis, O., and J. Dias. “Satellite Estimates of Precipitation-Induced Dissipation in the Atmosphere (Vol 335, Pg 953, 2012).” Science 339, no. 6117 (January 18, 2013).

Pauluis, Olivier. “Water Vapor and Mechanical Work: A Comparison of Carnot and Steam Cycles.” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 68, no. 1 (September 3, 2010): 91–102. https://doi.org/10.1175/2010JAS3530.1

Pauluis, Olivier, and Fuqing Zhang. “Reconstruction of Thermodynamic Cycles in a High-Resolution Simulation of a Hurricane.” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 74, no. 10 (July 11, 2017): 3367–81. https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-16-0353.1.

https://wp.nyu.edu/opauluis/home/resear ... at-engine/

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Post by thelivyjr » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:40 p


History of the greenhouse effect and global warming

By S.M. Enzler MSc

Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927) was a Swedish scientist that was the first to claim in 1896 that fossil fuel combustion may eventually result in enhanced global warming.

He proposed a relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature.

He found that the average surface temperature of the earth is about 15C because of the infrared absorption capacity of water vapor and carbon dioxide.

This is called the natural greenhouse effect.

Arrhenius suggested a doubling of the CO2 concentration would lead to a 5C temperature rise.

He and Thomas Chamberlin calculated that human activities could warm the earth by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

This research was a by-product of research of whether carbon dioxide would explain the causes of the great Ice Ages.

This was not actually verified until 1987.

After the discoveries of Arrhenius and Chamberlin the topic was forgotten for a very long time.

At that time it was thought than human influences were insignificant compared to natural forces, such as solar activity and ocean circulation.

It was also believed that the oceans were such great carbon sinks that they would automatically cancel out our pollution.

Water vapor was seen as a much more influential greenhouse gas.

In the 1940's there were developments in infrared spectroscopy for measuring long-wave radiation.

At that time it was proven that increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide resulted in more absorption of infrared radiation.

It was also discovered that water vapor absorbed totally different types of radiation than carbon dioxide.

Gilbert Plass summarized these results in 1955.

He concluded that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would intercept infrared radiation that is otherwise lost to space, warming the earth.

The argument that the oceans would absorb most carbon dioxide was still intact.

However, in the 1950's evidence was found that carbon dioxide has an atmospheric lifetime of approximately 10 years.

Moreover, it was not yet known what would happen to a carbon dioxide molecule after it would eventually dissolve in the ocean.

Perhaps the carbon dioxide holding capacity of oceans was limited, or carbon dioxide could be transferred back to the atmosphere after some time.

Research showed that the ocean could never be the complete sink for all atmospheric CO2.

It is thought that only nearly a third of anthropogenic CO2 is absorbed by oceans.

In the late 1950's and early 1960's Charles Keeling used the most modern technologies available to produce concentration curves for atmospheric CO2 in Antarctica and Mauna Loa.

These curves have become one of the major icons of global warming.

The curves showed a downward trend of global annual temperature from the 1940's to the 1970's.

At the same time ocean sediment research showed that there had been no less than 32 cold-warm cycles in the last 2.5 million years, rather than only 4.

Therefore, fear began to develop that a new ice age might be near.

The media and many scientists ignored scientific data of the 1950's and 1960's in favor of global cooling.

In the 1980's, finally, the global annual mean temperature curve started to rise.

People began to question the theory of an upcoming new ice age.

In the late 1980's the curve began to increase so steeply that the global warming theory began to win terrain fast.

Environmental NGO's (Non-Governmental Organizations) started to advocate global environmental protection to prevent further global warming.

The press also gained an interest in global warming.

It soon became a hot news topic that was repeated on a global scale.

Pictures of smoke stacks were put next to pictures of melting ice caps and flood events.

A complete media circus evolved that convinced many people we are on the edge of a significant climate change that has many negative impacts on our world today.

Stephen Schneider had first predicted global warming in 1976.

This made him one of the world's leading global warming experts.

In 1988 it was finally acknowledged that climate was warmer than any period since 1880.

The greenhouse effect theory was named and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization.

This organization tries to predict the impact of the greenhouse effect according to existing climate models and literature information.

The Panel consists of more than 2500 scientific and technical experts from more than 60 countries all over the world.

The scientists are from widely divergent research fields including climatology, ecology, economics, medicine, and oceanography.

The IPCC is referred to as the largest peer-reviewed scientific cooperation project in history.

The IPCC released climate change reports in 1992 and 1996, and the latest revised version in 2001.

In the 1990's scientists started to question the greenhouse effect theory, because of major uncertainties in the data sets and model outcomes.

They protested the basis of the theory, which was data of global annual mean temperatures.

They believed that the measurements were not carried out correctly and that data from oceans was missing.

Cooling trends were not explained by the global warming data and satellites showed completely different temperature records from the initial ones.

The idea began to grow that global warming models had overestimated the warming trend of the past 100 years.

This caused the IPCC to review their initial data on global warming, but this did not make them reconsider whether the trend actually exists.

We now know that 1998 was globally the warmest year on record, followed by 2002, 2003, 2001 and 1997.

The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1990.

The climate records of the IPCC are still contested by many other scientists, causing new research and frequent responses to skeptics by the IPCC.

This global warming discussion is still continuing today and data is constantly checked and renewed.

Models are also updated and adjusted to new discoveries and new theory.

So far not many measures have been taken to do something about climate change.

This is largely caused by the major uncertainties still surrounding the theory.

But climate change is also a global problem that is hard to solve by single countries.

Therefore in 1998 the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan.

It requires participating countries to reduce their anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6) by at least 5% below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012.

The Kyoto Protocol was eventually signed in Bonn in 2001 by 186 countries.

Several countries such as the United States and Australia have retreated.

From 1998 onwards the terminology on the greenhouse effect started to change as a result of media influences.

The greenhouse effect as a term was used fewer and fewer and people started to refer to the theory as either global warming or climate change.

Source: Maslin, M., Global Warming, a very short introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004

https://www.lenntech.com/greenhouse-eff ... istory.htm

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Post by thelivyjr » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:40 p


"R.I.P. Greenhouse Gas Theory: 1980-2018"

Written by John O'Sullivan

Published on January 15, 2018

Fresh analysis of government scientific records reveals the idea of ‘long-settled’ science in the greenhouse gas theory is a myth.

The claim human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) act as a control knob on climate only appeared in consensus science since the 1980’s.

Prior to that time, official records show the theory as “abandoned.”

Famously, on June 24, 1988 the whole world first heard about the dreaded “greenhouse effect” (GHE) from NASA’s new champion of the theory, James Hansen.

Hansen had breathed life into an old and “abandoned” theory drawing from new space research into Venus and Mars.

Thanks to Hansen’s role, climate fear prevailed for a generation.

Recently, Russian scientists have declared the GHE dead as global cooling sets in; while a team of Italian scientists called for a “deep re-examination” of the failing theory.

Other new papers readily dismiss the CO2 climate hypothesis.

Below we present the stark evidence and encourage readers to engage in their own research.

Consensus as Science?

Of course, we should begin by stating real scientists avoid reliance on consensus opinion to determine the validity or otherwise of any theory.

But so often, non-scientists in the general public and media (and certain corrupt national science institutes) cite consensus claims to quell discussion and debate.

In that regard, we show that for the greater part of the 20th century consensus science, itself, rejected the idea that carbon dioxide causes global warming.

The so-called greenhouse gas theory (GHE) was first famously debunked by Professor H. W.Woods in 1909.

Establishment scientists usually never decry the Woods debunk.

Instead, they gloss over it and the long hiatus that followed (1909-1980).

Concocting a Strong Narrative

Spencer R. Weart, director of the Center for the History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics is pre-eminent among establishment science historians in splashing gloss.

Weart’s book, ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’ is compulsory reading for modern students in this field.

Weart plugged Hansen’s comparison of Mars and Venus with Earth, asserting life as being very fragile and vulnerable to any climate shifts.

Weart writes:

“In the 1960s and 1970s, observations of Mars and Venus showed that planets that seemed much like the Earth could have frightfully different atmospheres."

"The greenhouse effect had made Venus a furnace, while lack of atmosphere had locked Mars in a deep freeze."

"This was visible evidence that climate can be delicately balanced, so that a planet’s atmosphere could flip from a livable state to a deadly one.” (id.)

Like James Hansen’s ‘fixing’ of history, Weart is masterful at making evidence fit the narrative.

Alarmist drumbeater, Andrew C. Revkin, in The New York Times Book Review heaped fulsome praise proclaiming that Weart’s version of science history, “dissects the interwoven threads of research and reveals the political and societal subtexts that colored scientists’ views and the public reception their work received.”

Revkin’s words are subtly revealing of the importance of appearance in science and public perception.

Glowing praise for Weart came, too, from Fred Pearce, of the UK’s The Independent:

“It is almost two centuries since the French mathematician Jean Baptiste Fourier discovered that the Earth was far warmer than it had any right to be, given its distance from the Sun…"

"Spencer Weart’s book about how Fourier’s initially inconsequential discovery finally triggered urgent debate about the future habitability of the Earth is lucid, painstaking and commendably brief, packing everything into 200 pages.”

We could be forgiven for thinking we’ve had two centuries, no less, of CO2 ‘settled science’, couldn’t we?

Follow the Money

Sadly, too few have scratched beneath the surface of Spencer Weart’s compelling (biased) narrative.

If they had they would have found some very disturbing pronouncements of consensus science wonderfulness to jar such faith.

What Weart and other establishment lackeys won’t tell you is that the American Meteorological Society – as well as Britain’s top climate scientist, CEP Brooks (1951) no less – published the most damning assessments discrediting Weart’s Big Greenhouse Gas Fiction.

Weart, and so many profiting from the scam, won’t admit that it doesn’t pay to come clean and jump off the billion dollar global warming gravy train.

Professor Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan, sums it up succinctly:

“CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or the other – every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so.”

Weart and co. would rather you not know that there are more than 65 (SIXTY-FIVE!) known iterations jockeying for position as THE GHE theory.

Many are self-contradictory and unphysical.

By contrast, we don’t have 65 variations of the laws of gravity.

Plus, there are no less than 53 bogus authority statements online declaring that Earth’s atmosphere DOES act ‘like a greenhouse.’

The Hansen ‘Cooling is Warming’ Flip-flop

Weart also fails to tell readers that in 1967 Hansen claimed (when he was a fringe theorist) that if there was a GHE it was likely induced by dust (aerosol particulates). [1]

Hansen had been pitching his “Dust Insulation Model” (DIM) to anyone and everyone after obtaining his PhD from the University of Iowa and starting work at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Then in the 1970′s disaster science became the rage, inspired by Immanuel Velikovsky, a leading advocate of Catastrophist ideas as opposed to the prevailing Uniformitarian notions.

Hansen, as a disciple of Velikovsky, was crying about an impending ice age on Earth while at the same time speculating that dust aerosols in the atmosphere of Venus caused a “runaway greenhouse gas effect” on the hot planet.

Nowhere, back then, was Hansen claiming CO2 drove climate.

Does the term “opportunist” spring to mind?

Not until television science celebrity and fellow catastrophist, Carl Sagan, won fame with his claims about a “runaway greenhouse effect” on Venus – all due to carbon dioxide – that Hansen got on the new bandwagon.

Meanwhile, a contemporary of Sagan, American physicist Richard Feynmen, discredited the GHE.

Today, independent scientists, using the latest data from space probes, have a better idea of what’s happening on Venus.

Moreover, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests life is not fragile, but enduring and likely common throughout the universe on many planets like ours.

This certainly conflicts with the Weart narrative.

But then, why would Weart – a loyal alarmist propagandist – want to expose how bad Hansen’s science really is?

If Weart were honest, he would have come clean on Hansen’s howler made in a key climate paper published in a 1981 edition of ‘Science‘. [2]

Hansen’s Huge CO2 ‘Window’ Howler

In it Hansen claims carbon dioxide absorbs in an atmospheric “window” from 7 to 14 micrometers – which transmits thermal radiation emitted by the earth’s surface and lower atmosphere.

But the scientific reality is that carbon dioxide only has an effect on the atmospheric window centered on 14.77 microns with a range from about 13 to 17 microns – not from 7 to 14 micrometers.

So how did Weart and thousands of “experts” over decades never spot that corker?

None of these crucial failings was systematically challenged until 2010 and the full-volume ground-breaking book ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory.’ A recent bombshell study validated the book’s science.

The clues for junk science are staring us in the face, especially now so many experts, outside of climate ‘science’, aver to the facts of empirical evidence that CO2 has only even been proven to cool, never warm, anything.

Joseph E. Postma illustrated well how respected textbooks on thermodynamics show’ energy‘ is generally not ‘heat‘, which is where the GHE theory is confused and any forcing role from CO2 cannot work. [3]

Charlatans Conflate Correlation & Causation

But thanks to mainstream media hype and despite the flaws in the science, the GHE gained traction from 1980, as global levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) went ever upwards.

Non-scientists often mistake correlation for causation (charlatans depend on it!).

Yet, we now look back and see that average global temperatures over the past 100 years have barely moved one degree – despite the brief uptick in the late 20th Century.

With no catastrophe imminent and fears of a new ice age gripping ever more scientists, we are right on the cusp of the biggest science paradigm shift since Einstein.

Academics don’t want to admit to the truth that levels of CO2 – whether higher or lower – can be shown to have no measured climate impact.

The truth, it seems, shifts full circle back to what the AMS declared in 1951, as the extract below reveals. [4]

https://archive.org/stream/compendiumof ... 6/mode/2up

The author of the above extract is CEP Brooks.

He and the publisher, the American Meteorological Society, unequivocally advise that the old CO2 climate theory of Arrhenius, Fourier, et al:

“was never widely accepted and was abandoned when it was found that all the long-wave radiation absorbed by CO2 is also absorbed by water vapour.”

Brooks (+AMS) then addresses the rise in atmospheric CO2 due to human industrial activity:

“In the past hundred years the burning of coal has increased the amount of CO2 by a measurable amount (from 0.028 to 0.030 per cent), and Callender [7] sees in this an explanation of the recent rise in world temperature.”

Continuing, Brooks (1951) makes the same inescapable argument made by skeptics today:

“But during the past 7000 years there have been greater fluctuations of temperature without the internvention of man, and there seems no reason to regard the recent rise as more than a coincidence."

"This theory is not considered further.”

Thus, the greenhouse gas theory was well and truly dead and buried in 1951 – according to settled consensus science (if you are a believer in it).

No ‘Greenhouse Gas Theory’ Spoken in Charney (1979)

For the next revealing insight we must shift 28 years further ahead to ‘Charney’ (1979).

But before we do, let us first heed some words of warning from a man with the keenest insight of Big Government machinations.

As Warren E. Leary writes, no less than President Dwight D Eisenhower urged us to be on our guard:

“During the 1961 address, in which the president famously warned of the danger to the nation of a growing armaments industry referred to as a “military-industrial complex,” he included a few sentences about risks posed by a scientific-technological elite.

He noted that the technological revolution of previous decades had been fed by more costly and centralized research, increasingly sponsored by the federal government.

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields… ,” Eisenhower warned.

“Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” [5]

Intellectual curiosity certainly has gone into short supply in contemporary government science.

From the 1940’s to early 1970’s, the temperature records had showed a clear cooling trend.

Till the mid 1970’s the big story among scientists was global cooling – not warming.

We have to get well into the 1980’s, when there was evidence of an uptick in global temperatures, to see wide evidence that the long-abandoned CO2-driven greenhouse gas hypothesis was rising again – like phoenix from the ashes.

Indeed, we can pinpoint the change by examining the extremely detailed 13,000-word climate report ‘Carbon Dioxide and Climate, A Scientific Assessment’ (1979).

Widely referred to just as ‘Charney’.

This makes zero mention of the greenhouse gas theory.







So how could the greenhouse gas theory be “settled science” if not mentioned by name ANYWHERE in such a key US federal climate report?

Nonetheless, ‘Charney’ did concede that CO2 might actually cause cooling, something contemporary alarmists would rather you didn’t know!


Prominent skeptic, Professor Richard Lindzen, was one of the original ‘Charney‘ science contributors and has “walked back” from the GHE.

Despite Hansen’s “contribution” his theory was shut out.

Canadian space scientist, Joseph E. Postma summarizes why bias, group think and incompetence helped sustain the discredited greenhouse gas theory for so long when proper examination shows it is literally ‘flat earth physics.’


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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:40 p


"R.I.P. Greenhouse Gas Theory: 1980-2018"
, concluded ...

Written by John O'Sullivan

Published on January 15, 2018

NASA Boss: Hansen “Embarrassed” Us

But time is not the friend of climate fraudsters.

And Hansen’s beloved greenhouse gas theory is consistently and monotonously being refuted in peer-reviewed journals rendering him – and other alarmists – disgraced.

NASA’s Mass/Gravity Equations contradict the GHE and retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist Dr. John S. Theon, James Hansen’s former supervisor at NASA, has declared on government record that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” and “was never muzzled.” [6]

The failure, after 30 years of prophesy, for a climate catastrophe to unfold, has left James Hansen a somewhat chastened man.

In a recent paper Hansen shows he has now flip-flopped again on the climate forcing properties of aerosols.

Returning to his old DIM science idea Hansen now says aerosols are part of the control knob for a planet’s energy content.

But contrary to what he claimed before, he now says they cause cooling, not warming.

In 2018 the null hypothesis awaits the greenhouse gas theory.

In 1951, the AMS and Britain’s best climate scientist and head of the UK Meteorological Office, CEP Brooks said it all (id.)

PRINCIPIA SCIENTIFIC INTERNATIONAL, legally registered in the UK as a company incorporated for charitable purposes. Head Office: 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AX. Telephone: Calls from within the UK: 020 7419 5027. International dialling: (44) 20 7419 5027.


[1] Hansen, J.E., and S. Matsushima “The atmosphere and surface temperature of Venus: A dust insulation model”Astrophys. J. 150: 1139–1157 (1967) Bibcode1967ApJ…150.1139H. Doi:10.1086/149410.

[2] [Hansen J., Johnson D., Lacis A., Lebedeff S., Lee P., Rind D., Russell D., SCIENCE 28 August 1981, Volume 213, Number 4511, Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.].

[3] Refers to Schroeder in “Thermal Physics” (Addison Wesley Longman, 2000) stating that: “Much of thermodynamics deals with three closely related concepts: temperature, energy, and heat. Much of students’ difficulty with thermodynamics comes from confusing these three concepts with each other.” And so note once again that energy is generally not heat. GHE believers conflate both.

[4] CEP Brooks, American Meteorological Society (1951) in its Compendium of Meteorology (Brooks, C.E.P. “Geological and Historical Aspects of Climatic Change.” pp. 1004-18 (at 1016)). https://archive.org/stream/compendiumof ... 6/mode/2up

[5] https://www.aaas.org/news/after-50-year ... sternation

[6] https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index ... d53cd3d320

https://principia-scientific.org/r-i-p- ... 1980-2018/

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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:40 p


The Carbon Cycle

By Holli Riebeek

June 16, 2011


Carbon is the backbone of life on Earth.

We are made of carbon, we eat carbon, and our civilizations — our economies, our homes, our means of transport — are built on carbon.

We need carbon, but that need is also entwined with one of the most serious problems facing us today: global climate change.

Carbon is both the foundation of all life on Earth, and the source of the majority of energy consumed by human civilization.

Forged in the heart of aging stars, carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the Universe.

Most of Earth’s carbon — about 65,500 billion metric tons — is stored in rocks.

The rest is in the ocean, atmosphere, plants, soil, and fossil fuels.

Carbon flows between each reservoir in an exchange called the carbon cycle, which has slow and fast components.

Any change in the cycle that shifts carbon out of one reservoir puts more carbon in the other reservoirs.

Changes that put carbon gases into the atmosphere result in warmer temperatures on Earth.

Over the long term, the carbon cycle seems to maintain a balance that prevents all of Earth’s carbon from entering the atmosphere (as is the case on Venus) or from being stored entirely in rocks.

This balance helps keep Earth’s temperature relatively stable, like a thermostat.

This thermostat works over a few hundred thousand years, as part of the slow carbon cycle.

This means that for shorter time periods — tens to a hundred thousand years — the temperature of Earth can vary.

And, in fact, Earth swings between ice ages and warmer interglacial periods on these time scales.

Parts of the carbon cycle may even amplify these short-term temperature changes.

On very long time scales (millions to tens of millions of years), the movement of tectonic plates and changes in the rate at which carbon seeps from the Earth’s interior may change the temperature on the thermostat.

Earth has undergone such a change over the last 50 million years, from the extremely warm climates of the Cretaceous (roughly 145 to 65 million years ago) to the glacial climates of the Pleistocene (roughly 1.8 million to 11,500 years ago).


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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:40 p


The Carbon Cycle
, continued ...

By Holli Riebeek

June 16, 2011

The Slow Carbon Cycle

Through a series of chemical reactions and tectonic activity, carbon takes between 100-200 million years to move between rocks, soil, ocean, and atmosphere in the slow carbon cycle.

On average, 1013 to 1014 grams (10–100 million metric tons) of carbon move through the slow carbon cycle every year.

In comparison, human emissions of carbon to the atmosphere are on the order of 1015 grams, whereas the fast carbon cycle moves 1016 to 1017 grams of carbon per year.

The movement of carbon from the atmosphere to the lithosphere (rocks) begins with rain.

Atmospheric carbon combines with water to form a weak acid — carbonic acid — that falls to the surface in rain.

The acid dissolves rocks — a process called chemical weathering — and releases calcium, magnesium, potassium, or sodium ions.

Rivers carry the ions to the ocean.

Rivers carry calcium ions—the result of chemical weathering of rocks—into the ocean, where they react with carbonate dissolved in the water.

The product of that reaction, calcium carbonate, is then deposited onto the ocean floor, where it becomes limestone.

In the ocean, the calcium ions combine with bicarbonate ions to form calcium carbonate, the active ingredient in antacids and the chalky white substance that dries on your faucet if you live in an area with hard water.

In the modern ocean, most of the calcium carbonate is made by shell-building (calcifying) organisms (such as corals) and plankton (like coccolithophores and foraminifera).

After the organisms die, they sink to the seafloor.

Over time, layers of shells and sediment are cemented together and turn to rock, storing the carbon in stone — limestone and its derivatives.

Only 80 percent of carbon-containing rock is currently made this way.

The remaining 20 percent contain carbon from living things (organic carbon) that have been embedded in layers of mud.

Heat and pressure compress the mud and carbon over millions of years, forming sedimentary rock such as shale.

In special cases, when dead plant matter builds up faster than it can decay, layers of organic carbon become oil, coal, or natural gas instead of sedimentary rock like shale.

The slow cycle returns carbon to the atmosphere through volcanoes.

Earth’s land and ocean surfaces sit on several moving crustal plates.

When the plates collide, one sinks beneath the other, and the rock it carries melts under the extreme heat and pressure.

The heated rock recombines into silicate minerals, releasing carbon dioxide.

When volcanoes erupt, they vent the gas to the atmosphere and cover the land with fresh silicate rock to begin the cycle again.

At present, volcanoes emit between 130 and 380 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

For comparison, humans emit about 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year — 100–300 times more than volcanoes — by burning fossil fuels.

Chemistry regulates this dance between ocean, land, and atmosphere.

If carbon dioxide rises in the atmosphere because of an increase in volcanic activity, for example, temperatures rise, leading to more rain, which dissolves more rock, creating more ions that will eventually deposit more carbon on the ocean floor.

It takes a few hundred thousand years to rebalance the slow carbon cycle through chemical weathering.

However, the slow carbon cycle also contains a slightly faster component: the ocean.

At the surface, where air meets water, carbon dioxide gas dissolves in and ventilates out of the ocean in a steady exchange with the atmosphere.

Once in the ocean, carbon dioxide gas reacts with water molecules to release hydrogen, making the ocean more acidic.

The hydrogen reacts with carbonate from rock weathering to produce bicarbonate ions.

Before the industrial age, the ocean vented carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in balance with the carbon the ocean received during rock weathering.

However, since carbon concentrations in the atmosphere have increased, the ocean now takes more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases.

Over millennia, the ocean will absorb up to 85 percent of the extra carbon people have put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, but the process is slow because it is tied to the movement of water from the ocean’s surface to its depths.

In the meantime, winds, currents, and temperature control the rate at which the ocean takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It is likely that changes in ocean temperatures and currents helped remove carbon from and then restore carbon to the atmosphere over the few thousand years in which the ice ages began and ended.


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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:40 p


The Carbon Cycle
, continued ...

By Holli Riebeek

June 16, 2011

The Fast Carbon Cycle

The time it takes carbon to move through the fast carbon cycle is measured in a lifespan.

The fast carbon cycle is largely the movement of carbon through life forms on Earth, or the biosphere.

Between 1015 and 1017 grams (1,000 to 100,000 million metric tons) of carbon move through the fast carbon cycle every year.

Carbon plays an essential role in biology because of its ability to form many bonds — up to four per atom — in a seemingly endless variety of complex organic molecules.

Many organic molecules contain carbon atoms that have formed strong bonds to other carbon atoms, combining into long chains and rings.

Such carbon chains and rings are the basis of living cells.

For instance, DNA is made of two intertwined molecules built around a carbon chain.

The bonds in the long carbon chains contain a lot of energy.

When the chains break apart, the stored energy is released.

This energy makes carbon molecules an excellent source of fuel for all living things.

Plants and phytoplankton are the main components of the fast carbon cycle.

Phytoplankton (microscopic organisms in the ocean) and plants take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by absorbing it into their cells.

Using energy from the Sun, both plants and plankton combine carbon dioxide (CO2) and water to form sugar (CH2O) and oxygen.

The chemical reaction looks like this:

CO2 + H2O + energy = CH2O + O2

Four things can happen to move carbon from a plant and return it to the atmosphere, but all involve the same chemical reaction.

Plants break down the sugar to get the energy they need to grow.

Animals (including people) eat the plants or plankton, and break down the plant sugar to get energy.

Plants and plankton die and decay (are eaten by bacteria) at the end of the growing season.

Or fire consumes plants.

In each case, oxygen combines with sugar to release water, carbon dioxide, and energy.

The basic chemical reaction looks like this:

CH2O + O2 = CO2 + H2O + energy

In all four processes, the carbon dioxide released in the reaction usually ends up in the atmosphere.

The fast carbon cycle is so tightly tied to plant life that the growing season can be seen by the way carbon dioxide fluctuates in the atmosphere.

In the Northern Hemisphere winter, when few land plants are growing and many are decaying, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations climb.

During the spring, when plants begin growing again, concentrations drop.

It is as if the Earth is breathing.

The ebb and flow of the fast carbon cycle is visible in the changing seasons.

As the large land masses of Northern Hemisphere green in the spring and summer, they draw carbon out of the atmosphere.

This cycle peaks in August, with about 2 parts per million of carbon dioxide drawn out of the atmosphere.

In the fall and winter, as vegetation dies back in the northern hemisphere, decomposition and respiration returns carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.


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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:40 p


The Carbon Cycle
, continued ...

By Holli Riebeek

June 16, 2011

Changes in the Carbon Cycle

Left unperturbed, the fast and slow carbon cycles maintain a relatively steady concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, land, plants, and ocean.

But when anything changes the amount of carbon in one reservoir, the effect ripples through the others.

In Earth’s past, the carbon cycle has changed in response to climate change.

Variations in Earth’s orbit alter the amount of energy Earth receives from the Sun and leads to a cycle of ice ages and warm periods like Earth’s current climate.

Ice ages developed when Northern Hemisphere summers cooled and ice built up on land, which in turn slowed the carbon cycle.

Meanwhile, a number of factors including cooler temperatures and increased phytoplankton growth may have increased the amount of carbon the ocean took out of the atmosphere.

The drop in atmospheric carbon caused additional cooling.

Similarly, at the end of the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose dramatically as temperatures warmed.

Shifts in Earth’s orbit are happening constantly, in predictable cycles.

In about 30,000 years, Earth’s orbit will have changed enough to reduce sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere to the levels that led to the last ice age.

Today, changes in the carbon cycle are happening because of people.

We perturb the carbon cycle by burning fossil fuels and clearing land.

When we clear forests, we remove a dense growth of plants that had stored carbon in wood, stems, and leaves — biomass.

By removing a forest, we eliminate plants that would otherwise take carbon out of the atmosphere as they grow.

We tend to replace the dense growth with crops or pasture, which store less carbon.

We also expose soil that vents carbon from decayed plant matter into the atmosphere.

Humans are currently emitting just under a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere per year through land use changes.

Without human interference, the carbon in fossil fuels would leak slowly into the atmosphere through volcanic activity over millions of years in the slow carbon cycle.

By burning coal, oil, and natural gas, we accelerate the process, releasing vast amounts of carbon (carbon that took millions of years to accumulate) into the atmosphere every year.

By doing so, we move the carbon from the slow cycle to the fast cycle.

In 2009, humans released about 8.4 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when people first started burning fossil fuels, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 parts per million to 387 parts per million, a 39 percent increase.

This means that for every million molecules in the atmosphere, 387 of them are now carbon dioxide — the highest concentration in two million years.

Methane concentrations have risen from 715 parts per billion in 1750 to 1,774 parts per billion in 2005, the highest concentration in at least 650,000 years.


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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:40 p


The Carbon Cycle
, continued ...

By Holli Riebeek

June 16, 2011

Effects of Changing the Carbon Cycle

All of this extra carbon needs to go somewhere.

So far, land plants and the ocean have taken up about 55 percent of the extra carbon people have put into the atmosphere while about 45 percent has stayed in the atmosphere.

Eventually, the land and oceans will take up most of the extra carbon dioxide, but as much as 20 percent may remain in the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

The changes in the carbon cycle impact each reservoir.

Excess carbon in the atmosphere warms the planet and helps plants on land grow more.

Excess carbon in the ocean makes the water more acidic, putting marine life in danger.


It is significant that so much carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere because CO2 is the most important gas for controlling Earth’s temperature.

Carbon dioxide, methane, and halocarbons are greenhouse gases that absorb a wide range of energy — including infrared energy (heat) emitted by the Earth — and then re-emit it.

The re-emitted energy travels out in all directions, but some returns to Earth, where it heats the surface.

Without greenhouse gases, Earth would be a frozen -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit).

With too many greenhouse gases, Earth would be like Venus, where the greenhouse atmosphere keeps temperatures around 400 degrees Celsius (750 Fahrenheit).

Because scientists know which wavelengths of energy each greenhouse gas absorbs, and the concentration of the gases in the atmosphere, they can calculate how much each gas contributes to warming the planet.

Carbon dioxide causes about 20 percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect; water vapor accounts for about 50 percent; and clouds account for 25 percent.

The rest is caused by small particles (aerosols) and minor greenhouse gases like methane.

Water vapor concentrations in the air are controlled by Earth’s temperature.

Warmer temperatures evaporate more water from the oceans, expand air masses, and lead to higher humidity.

Cooling causes water vapor to condense and fall out as rain, sleet, or snow.

Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, remains a gas at a wider range of atmospheric temperatures than water.

Carbon dioxide molecules provide the initial greenhouse heating needed to maintain water vapor concentrations.

When carbon dioxide concentrations drop, Earth cools, some water vapor falls out of the atmosphere, and the greenhouse warming caused by water vapor drops.

Likewise, when carbon dioxide concentrations rise, air temperatures go up, and more water vapor evaporates into the atmosphere — which then amplifies greenhouse heating.

So while carbon dioxide contributes less to the overall greenhouse effect than water vapor, scientists have found that carbon dioxide is the gas that sets the temperature.

Carbon dioxide controls the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and thus the size of the greenhouse effect.

Rising carbon dioxide concentrations are already causing the planet to heat up.

At the same time that greenhouse gases have been increasing, average global temperatures have risen 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880.

This rise in temperature isn’t all the warming we will see based on current carbon dioxide concentrations.

Greenhouse warming doesn’t happen right away because the ocean soaks up heat.

This means that Earth’s temperature will increase at least another 0.6 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) because of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

The degree to which temperatures go up beyond that depends in part on how much more carbon humans release into the atmosphere in the future.


About 30 percent of the carbon dioxide that people have put into the atmosphere has diffused into the ocean through the direct chemical exchange.

Dissolving carbon dioxide in the ocean creates carbonic acid, which increases the acidity of the water.

Or rather, a slightly alkaline ocean becomes a little less alkaline.

Since 1750, the pH of the ocean’s surface has dropped by 0.1, a 30 percent change in acidity.

Ocean acidification affects marine organisms in two ways.

First, carbonic acid reacts with carbonate ions in the water to form bicarbonate.

However, those same carbonate ions are what shell-building animals like coral need to create calcium carbonate shells.

With less carbonate available, the animals need to expend more energy to build their shells.

As a result, the shells end up being thinner and more fragile.

Second, the more acidic water is, the better it dissolves calcium carbonate.

In the long run, this reaction will allow the ocean to soak up excess carbon dioxide because more acidic water will dissolve more rock, release more carbonate ions, and increase the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide.

In the meantime, though, more acidic water will dissolve the carbonate shells of marine organisms, making them pitted and weak.

Warmer oceans — a product of the greenhouse effect — could also decrease the abundance of phytoplankton, which grow better in cool, nutrient-rich waters.

This could limit the ocean’s ability to take carbon from the atmosphere through the fast carbon cycle.

On the other hand, carbon dioxide is essential for plant and phytoplankton growth.

An increase in carbon dioxide could increase growth by fertilizing those few species of phytoplankton and ocean plants (like sea grasses) that take carbon dioxide directly from the water.

However, most species are not helped by the increased availability of carbon dioxide.


Plants on land have taken up approximately 25 percent of the carbon dioxide that humans have put into the atmosphere.

The amount of carbon that plants take up varies greatly from year to year, but in general, the world’s plants have increased the amount of carbon dioxide they absorb since 1960.

Only some of this increase occurred as a direct result of fossil fuel emissions.

With more atmospheric carbon dioxide available to convert to plant matter in photosynthesis, plants were able to grow more.

This increased growth is referred to as carbon fertilization.

Models predict that plants might grow anywhere from 12 to 76 percent more if atmospheric carbon dioxide is doubled, as long as nothing else, like water shortages, limits their growth.

However, scientists don’t know how much carbon dioxide is increasing plant growth in the real world, because plants need more than carbon dioxide to grow.

Plants also need water, sunlight, and nutrients, especially nitrogen.

If a plant doesn’t have one of these things, it won’t grow regardless of how abundant the other necessities are.

There is a limit to how much carbon plants can take out of the atmosphere, and that limit varies from region to region.

So far, it appears that carbon dioxide fertilization increases plant growth until the plant reaches a limit in the amount of water or nitrogen available.

Some of the changes in carbon absorption are the result of land use decisions.

Agriculture has become much more intensive, so we can grow more food on less land.

In high and mid-latitudes, abandoned farmland is reverting to forest, and these forests store much more carbon, both in wood and soil, than crops would.

In many places, we prevent plant carbon from entering the atmosphere by extinguishing wildfires.

This allows woody material (which stores carbon) to build up.

All of these land use decisions are helping plants absorb human-released carbon in the Northern Hemisphere.

In the tropics, however, forests are being removed, often through fire, and this releases carbon dioxide.

As of 2008, deforestation accounted for about 12 percent of all human carbon dioxide emissions.

The biggest changes in the land carbon cycle are likely to come because of climate change.

Carbon dioxide increases temperatures, extending the growing season and increasing humidity.

Both factors have led to some additional plant growth.

However, warmer temperatures also stress plants.

With a longer, warmer growing season, plants need more water to survive.

Scientists are already seeing evidence that plants in the Northern Hemisphere slow their growth in the summer because of warm temperatures and water shortages.

Dry, water-stressed plants are also more susceptible to fire and insects when growing seasons become longer.

In the far north, where an increase in temperature has the greatest impact, the forests have already started to burn more, releasing carbon from the plants and the soil into the atmosphere.

Tropical forests may also be extremely susceptible to drying.

With less water, tropical trees slow their growth and take up less carbon, or die and release their stored carbon to the atmosphere.

The warming caused by rising greenhouse gases may also “bake” the soil, accelerating the rate at which carbon seeps out in some places.

This is of particular concern in the far north, where frozen soil — permafrost — is thawing.

Permafrost contains rich deposits of carbon from plant matter that has accumulated for thousands of years because the cold slows decay.

When the soil warms, the organic matter decays and carbon — in the form of methane and carbon dioxide — seeps into the atmosphere.

Current research estimates that permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere holds 1,672 billion tons (Petagrams) of organic carbon.

If just 10 percent of this permafrost were to thaw, it could release enough extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to raise temperatures an additional 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.


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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:40 p


The Carbon Cycle
, concluded ...

By Holli Riebeek

June 16, 2011

Studying the Carbon Cycle

Many of the questions scientists still need to answer about the carbon cycle revolve around how it is changing.

The atmosphere now contains more carbon than at any time in at least two million years.

Each reservoir of the cycle will change as this carbon makes its way through the cycle.

What will those changes look like?

What will happen to plants as temperatures increase and climate changes?

Will they remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they put back?

Will they become less productive?

How much extra carbon will melting permafrost put into the atmosphere, and how much will that amplify warming?

Will ocean circulation or warming change the rate at which the ocean takes up carbon?

Will ocean life become less productive?

How much will the ocean acidify, and what effects will that have?

NASA’s role in answering these questions is to provide global satellite observations and related field observations.

As of early 2011, two types of satellite instruments were collecting information relevant to the carbon cycle.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments, flying on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, measure the amount of carbon plants and phytoplankton turn into matter as they grow, a measurement called net primary productivity.

The MODIS sensors also measure how many fires occur and where they burn.

Two Landsat satellites provide a detailed view of ocean reefs, what is growing on land, and how land cover is changing.

It is possible to see the growth of a city or a transformation from forest to farm.

This information is crucial because land use accounts for one-third of all human carbon emissions.

Future NASA satellites will continue these observations, and also measure carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere and vegetation height and structure.

All of these measurements will help us see how the global carbon cycle is changing through time.

They will help us gauge the impact we are having on the carbon cycle by releasing carbon into the atmosphere or finding ways to store it elsewhere.

They will show us how our changing climate is altering the carbon cycle, and how the changing carbon cycle is altering our climate.

Most of us, however, will observe changes in the carbon cycle in a more personal way.

For us, the carbon cycle is the food we eat, the electricity in our homes, the gas in our cars, and the weather over our heads.

We are a part of the carbon cycle, and so our decisions about how we live ripple across the cycle.

Likewise, changes in the carbon cycle will impact the way we live.

As each of us come to understand our role in the carbon cycle, the knowledge empowers us to control our personal impact and to understand the changes we are seeing in the world around us.


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