Posted by: ericgrimsrud | March 13, 2014

Adding Natural Cycles to Man’s Effects

In a recent article posted at Skeptical Science (see, Jim Wight provides an excellent summary of some of the factors recently discussed on this blog – such as where the extra heat due to our elevated greenhouse gases is  presently going and how that will play out in the future.  With about 94% of that heat going into the oceans and only small fractions going into our atmosphere and land masses, observations of surface temperatures, alone, reveal only a small portion of that total heat content and can be grossly misinterpreted and misused by the deniers of man-caused global warming.  This is because  natural cycles of the sun and oceans currents can also have significant effects on surface and atmospheric temperatures.  During the last decade, for example, both of these natural cycles have been in the direction of cooling thus masking some of the surface heating caused by our continuously increasing greenhouse gas levels.  Cycles, however, are things that eventually go up as well as down. So hang on, Wight says, as we are about to go for quite a hot ride upward – as the release of that stored heat in our oceans and the natural cycles begin to go in the same direction.

I have provided below most of his summary for his full article. See the full article for more and for the appropriate references to the primary scientific literature.


“Rapid surface warming will be back with a vengeance

 In summary, the Earth is gaining heat faster than ever before. Arctic sea ice is melting at an astonishingly accelerating rate and could soon be all gone. Most indications of climate change are proving worse than scientists predicted. When you include the fast-changing Arctic, surface warming in the last 15 years has continued at only a slightly slower rate. This apparent “slowdown” in surface warming is temporary and can be explained by a combination of ocean and solar cycles, with a possible contribution from reflective particles emitted by volcanoes and/or Asian industry.

The apparent slowdown of surface warming is not only giving us a false sense of security; it actually indicates warming will accelerate in the future.

The “slowdown” of surface warming will not continue forever because natural cycles are just that: cycles. Although currently they are counteracting the underlying greenhouse warming trend, sooner or later the cycles will turn around and reinforce it, causing surface warming to catch up to where it would otherwise be. Solar activity is already ramping up again. And when the IPO inevitably shifts back into a warm phase, all the heat now being stored in the deep oceans will be released back into the atmosphere. Even if the cycles somehow get stuck, they will be overwhelmed by rising greenhouse gases as emissions continue (even if solar activity fell to its 17th-century low, the effect would be outweighed by just seven years of greenhouse gas emissions). Natural cycles are now merely waves on the rising tide of greenhouse warming.

Particulate air pollution also cannot continue sustainably because (by definition) it causes other harmful effects. In any case, it remains in the atmosphere for a much shorter timeframe than CO2, and cannot counter its ocean acidification impacts.

Temperatures over the next couple of years will be largely determined by the Southern Oscillation. Short-term models project it will either remain neutral or shift to an El Niño phase by mid-2014. In the latter case, 2014 will probably be warmer than 2013, and 2014 or 2015 is likely to be a record-smashing hot year.

Total cumulative CO2 emissions will be the main factor in the magnitude of long-term global warming. Under the world’s current climate policies we’re headed for >4°C warming by 2100, a temperature unprecedented for the human species and probably beyond our capacity to adapt. If we want global warming to truly pause, we must hit the pause button. We need to leave the vast majority of the Earth’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground, even just to have a good chance of limiting global warming to the unsafe level of <2°C. To have any hope of stabilizing the climate, we urgently need to phase out global greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. Most importantly, we must phase out the largest and longest-lived cause of global warming, fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

There is no time to lose. Rapid global surface warming will be back – faster than ever before.”

 Note of clarification added by EPG:

The two natural cycles referred to above are those of the sun and what’s referred to as the IPC.   The intensity of the sun varies slightly, only about 0.1% up and down in a cycle frequency of about 11 years.  During most of the last decade, it has been changing downward  but is now headed upward.

The main cause of slower atmospheric warming during the last decade, however, has been the ocean circulation cycle called the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). Ocean cycles periodically redistribute heat within the Earth’s climate system (particularly between the ocean and the atmosphere), and are unrelated to long-term climate change caused by the heat entering and leaving our planet via it’s absorption of sunlight and it’s emission of infrared radiation.  This sort of internal variability is the reason climate scientists focus on long-term trends instead of short-term ones, and the total amount of heat building up rather than the rate of surface warming.


  1. Science is not on the side of these Alarmist rants. Science shows that the Greenhouse Effect is much greater than anything you can explain in terms of trace gases such as CO2.

    A consensus has been reached that Earth’s temperature “Sans Atmosphere” would be 197.3 Kelvin. Arrhenius’ disciples can’t explain a GHE of 33 Kelvin so how will they explain 91 Kelvin?

    I hope you will take the time to comment at DITC.

    [EPG to the galloping one: And so why has this “work” shown up in the peer reviewed literature?[

  2. To gallopingcamel: I read the article that you referred to and have thought carefully about it. I actually “took it to bed”. I haven’t paid much attention to this debate for several years, but I can see that nothing much has changed.

    Reading your post feels like working for a patent office, having to consider perpetuum mobile designs day in and day out, year in and year out. In the beginning, there may have been some hope, but after more than a century, EVERY SINGLE IDEA of a perpetuum mobile has FAILED. Having to think about new proposals becomes mental torture. Patent offices worldwide refuse to do it as the work has proven to be a waste of time..

    This is similar to the stories that climate deniers come up with, and there have been HUNDREDS of them. Just about every single one has proven wrong and those that had some merit to them, had almost no impact of the overall climate picture. (There must be a book about them all). Fact is, you deniers of peer-reviewed science are turning yourself into extremely tiresome people!

    In this case, the argument of average temperature in the absence of an atmosphere is not wrong, actually it is good little scientific story. Problem is, it is nearly totally irrelevant to the issue of the sensitivity of the average global temperature to the CO2 concentrations in our present atmosphere.

    PS, Please forgive my rudeness, but the subject is much too important for the discussion to be limited by politeness.

    • You alarmist need to provide us with the experiment that shows that CO2 does what some maintain as far as being the driver of the earth’s climate. I do not need to be reminded of Tyndall’s 1859 lab experiments that do not prove that humanity’s CO2 emissions are warming the planet. In the real world, other factors can influence and outweigh those lab findings and that is why these experiment must deal with the real world and not computer models that do not have the ability to factor in all of the variables that effect the earth’s climate. If they can not provide a verifiable experiment regarding the present amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and how it effects the climate and creates their anthropogenic global warming, then believing that it does so is akin to believing that Santa Clause is real and you need to be good to get something left under the tree.

      It is a fact that real scientist devise experiments to either prove or disprove their hypotheses and welcome people to try to disprove them so that they can move on. They sure do not say that the science is settled and the argument is over because there are REAL scientist out there doing REAL scientific work that are not blinded by some agenda that they support so that they can get more “research” money or money to fund a boondoggle renewable energy scheme that will never work.

      Albert Einstein addressed the theory of quantum entanglement. In Dec. of 2011 this experiment was carried out:
      Quantum Entanglement Links 2 Diamonds.

      Speaking of Albert Einstein, he had an answer for those continually trying to claim that there is a consensus for their flawed, unproven hypothesis regarding anthropogenic global warming, climate change or what ever the charlatans now call it: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of the truth” Albert Einstein.

      Einstein was right, neutrino researchers admit.
      “The story captured the public imagination, and has given people the opportunity to see the scientific method in action.
      “The neutrinos were timed on the journey from CERN’s giant underground lab near Geneva to the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy, after travelling 732 kilometres (454 miles) through the Earth’s crust.”

      Jasper Kirkby photographed inside the CLOUD chamber.
      “There are a lot of observations suggesting that particles hitting the atmosphere might affect the production of clouds and, in turn, the planet’s climate”, continues Kirkby. “However, given the complexity of the climate and the many parameters involved, a clear answer doesn’t exist yet”. “For the first time, we want to do definitive, quantitative measurements of the underlying microphysics”, states Kirkby. “CLOUD has been designed to follow all the processes involved from the birth of the embryonic aerosols, which then grow to a big enough size to become the seeds for cloud droplets. CLOUD will also study the effect of cosmic rays on the cloud droplets and ice particles themselves”.

      Henrik Svensmark, being a scientist, devised experiments of his own to test his theory and that demonstrates how science works. It is not about a group of self serving charlatans proclaiming that “the debate is over” when they have no experiment that shows that CO2 drives the earth’s climate or even provide the mathematical derivation of CO2 forcing.

      “Svensmark: Evidence continues to build that the Sun drives climate, not CO2″.

      “New Data Boosts Case for Higgs Boson Find.
      The Higgs boson is the only particle theorized by the standard model of physics that hasn’t been conclusively observed in an experiment. The model describes how matter is built and how particles interact.”

      It seems to me that if the experiments above could be devised and carried out, that one showing how carbon dioxide can cause the earth’s climate to act as some seem to want people to believe it does should have been carried out long ago.

      [from EPG: I have been out of town recently and not had time to respond. But concerning your claim that their is no experiment that demonstrates the reality of the GH Effect, I will summarize some of those soon in a new post. Concerning your faith in the importance of cosmic rays – wow!! and you consider yourself to be a skeptic of scientific theories? Apparently you you prefer theories that have no basis w.r.t. observations and don’t like those that do have them in spades.]

  3. Doug, I read Svensmarks paper. I wonder if you as a scientist could help me understanding the importance of this ionization-driven effect.. We need to know how many ion pairs are formed (per cm3 and second) in the atmosphere (at altitudes where clouds are formed) by UV radiation and by cosmic rays. Do you have the numbers?

    • I wonder, cognitiophile , if you are a reasonable and somewhat astute person and since you have read Dr. Henrik Svensmark’ s paper, why you do not ask your question of him and I’m sure that since he is a scientist and does research to try to prove his hypotheses, unlike those that run around announcing that the sky is falling because of CO2 who have no evidence what so ever to validate that claim, he could give you the information that you snidely request.

      I can tell you, in case you have never had the occasion to notice, that the coldest nights of the winter happen when there is no cloud cover or why it can get to extremely hot temperatures in the deserts during the day time and freeze at night; again, no cloud cover to hold the heat or to shade the desert area in the day time.

      Here is something else you can question, cognitiophile. ( If you had conviction in your opinions, I do believe that you would use your real name and not this AKA bit of nonsense)
      “Early results confirmed that the experimental “cosmic rays” could increase the formation of particles, although the ones that formed must subsequently grow much, much larger before they can act as condensation nuclei
      In a new paper in Nature, the CLOUD team explores those puzzles. They intentionally added the simple nitrogen-containing organic compounds (called amines) to the chamber to see what would happen when more than just a few uninvited molecules were present.
      It was thought that amines might have a role in the formation of these particles, but their importance wasn’t well understood. That sulfuric acid in the particles comes from the reaction of sulfur dioxide, hydroxide, and water in the atmosphere. In order for these clumps of sulfuric acid to grow, a helper needs to keep the molecules in the clump from popping back into the gas phase. Ammonia is known to be an important one and had previously been included in the CLOUD experiment. But amines can perform this job as well.
      Adding just a few parts per trillion of an amine (roughly the concentration you can find in the atmosphere) raised the rate of particle formation in the CLOUD chamber to 1,000 times that seen in earlier experiments. That brought the rate up to what we observe in the atmosphere. This implies that amines are much more important than previously recognized”.

      This will never see the light of day since Eric will redact it like he did the other comment that I intended for you, cognitiophile.

      • Hard science by people like Kirkby is ignored because it suggests that “Global Warming” can be explained without the need to consider [CO2].

  4. The CLOUD experiments are very interesting and they make a lot of sense. But the connection to cosmic rays clearly remains unclear, as under some conditions of very high nucleation rates, the high energy radiation plays no role for particle growth (You did not mentioning that observation?) while under other conditions they do. Furthermore, the connection to climate, though potentially of great interest, is even murkier. As the story now stands, it is difficult to see that it is likely to overturn established climate science, which is based om a much larger set of data and observations..

    But you are right that my technical question to you was a bit out of place, But the perception of being “snide” i in the eye of the beholder. It was indeed an invitation to explore. Pure exploration, searching for some kind of objective discourse, even.”truth”. As opposed to invectives. But, you declined. You seem to prefer the latter. For me, this discussion is over.

    • You seem to be a reasonable person so it bothers me that you don’t want to continue the discussion.

      My response to one of your earlier comments has not made it through “Moderation”. If it survives I hope you will comment.

      If it does not survive I ask you to check out the work of Tyler Robinson and David Catling at the University of Washington:

      I hope you will agree that this is an awesome presentation. What is your opinion concerning slide #35?

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