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View Diary: Earth (Day) Science: Climate and the energy budget (42 comments)

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  •  If I may jump the gun (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, alefnot, kirbybruno

    and provide an answer before alefnot, let me respond to your statement:

    "CO2 is a factor, yes, but such a trivial one in comparison to the sun's variation in output and water vapor."

    The applicable statement from the original post is this:

    "we need to distinguish the actual energy budget from variability in that budget. One controls climate, the other climate change."

    The sun's variability in output is comparable to that of current levels of CO2, but it goes up and down on 11-year cycles. If it were a dominant factor, then we wouldn't be seeing secular increases in temperature; we'd see only an 11-year cycle of heating and cooling.

    In like fashion, water vapor's contribution is static. We have no reason to believe that water vapor's effect is increasing or decreasing. It's a constant.

    In other words, in order to understand the change that's going on, we have to concentrate on the magnitudes of the changes in the controlling factors. And that's where CO2 comes into play. It's changing much more than any of the other factors.

    •  Ok, I think I get it (0+ / 0-)

      I understand the energy budget from variability part, but the change in the budget will have a dramatic impact on the change in climate.  If you check the link I posted in the response to alefnot, it showed the solar variance and temp changes, and they were fairly strongly related.  CO2 had little correlation, other than it went up in general when the temp went up.

      The 11 year cycle is one part of the many cycles in both solar and earth activity.  When one puts the CO2 vs temp graph from the ice core data, one sees CO2 lagging temp changes by roughly 800 years.  A general explanation of this, I have read, is that when the oceans heat up for whatever reason, they can hold less gas and thus more CO2 is released into the atmosphere.  

      Additionally, the impact CO2 has on retaining heat is logarthmic  and not linear.  Thus, additional CO2 will have less of an impact than earlier additions, eventually reaching a point where doubling CO2 concentrations will have little to no further impact on heat retention in the atmosphere.  Which again leads me back to solar variance as the primary driver.

      I'm not sure I understand water vapor's "static" contribution.  With more heat, there is more water vapor.  Less heat, less vapor.  I have read that there is little to no research being done on the increase or decrease in overall water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere, which would thus make it difficult to state conclusively that water vapor's impact is unchanging.  What am I missing?

      CO2 may be changing much more so than others in the manner in which we are measuring it.  Have all the critical factors been clearly identified?  I would have to guess no, as climate and weather are pretty much the most complex systems to understand.  One dramatic eruption wipes out all predictions of climate change for a few years.  There was an article out, that I did not read, that mentioned a venting process in the Pacific Ocean that could account for a significant amount of cooling.  

      I'm mentioning all this to try to rein in the hysterical nature in which everyone wants to restrict CO2 emissions when CO2 is not the conclusive driver in climate change - at least according to a lot of the data.  I wanted to begin discussions of adaptation, as that would be dramatically cheaper than mitigation.

      Thank you for your response.

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