CO2 warm dry vs cold wet hypothesis

I’ve been looking at some CO2 global maps. First off, they are hard to come by. Second, they tend to have some ‘bias’ in them. (What a surprise…)

Some have interpretations stuck on the, like that the Sasol Synthetic Fuels plant in South Africa is sufficient to account for the CO2 rise near there. Things that don’t quite make sense since there are trade winds blowing past and the CO2 rise is on both upwind and downwind sides of Africa.

But it is “what we have”.

To me, it looks like the CO2 bands of higher concentration match the places that are warmer / dryer. Low CO2 matches places that are either colder, wetter, or both.

I got tilted down this path on a completely unrelated thread where Gail Combs asked me to save a copy of the Japanese CO2 satellite data / map:

That image I reproduce here:

Jaxa Aug2012 for Gail

Jaxa Aug2012 for Gail

From original here.

Note that this map is from August. For some reason, I find a lot of mid-summer N. Hemisphere CO2 maps, but not a lot of cold winter CO2 maps. I would really like to be able to do an A/B of January / July and see what effect cold and wet has. Instead, we get “hot soil in the N.H. Summer outgassing CO2” date maps. You can ‘kinda sorta’ do an N.H. / S.H. A/B except that the land distribution and soil temps will be quite different, as are the water profiles, as are the industrialization levels. It ends up being more of a Tropical Rain Forest ‘winter’ vs Temperate Pine Forest Summer comparison.


OK, with all that, the closest I’ve found so far is this image lifted from a paper at their site:

Paper under discussion

Jaxa July 09 vs Jan 10

Jaxa July 09 vs Jan 10

So first off, it looks like the land has a cycle to it and the water doesn’t. The July 09 graph has an ‘oddity’ in that the Antarctic water is shown outgassing, despite being colder than other waters. That likely is a ‘dig here’. Other than that, the tropical waters are outgassing while the polar waters are sucking it up. The land tends to suck up CO2 during growth periods for plants, and outgas when not growing.

To me, this looks like the “seasonal cycle” is just an artifact of an unequal distribution of land between N and S hemispheres.

It also looks like the biggest surface area, by far, is water; so the relative outgassing and absorbing ratio of the two areas (polar / equatorial) is what determines the CO2 budget. This has implications for when the jet stream gets shifted, such as now with a ‘loopy jet stream’ in a sleepy sun time.

Furthermore, it looks to me like Hawaii sits in a band of ocean that cycles more / less over the year. Might be a whole lot more interesting to measure CO2 on the Falklands where things look more static. Anyone want to fund it, I’d be happy to live there for a couple of years setting the place up and running it. Pick a rural location on the side where the trades come ashore and put the instruments up a tall tower away from soils. (Think miniature Eiffel Tower ;-)

It would be very nice to be able to compare ‘same date’ data for sea surface temperatures. For now, here is the present SST map, that indicates the present temps are ‘way cold’. That, to me, implies some CO2 ought to be staying in the ocean near the tropical zones, and more ought to be going into the oceans in the polar zones.

Image from here

Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies 20 Jan 2013

Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies 20 Jan 2013

For now (unless someone can scare up a 2009 / 2010 chart) just notice that it’s a tad warm below Australia and South Africa. If that is a semi-permanent feature, we would expect to see more CO2 near those locations.

For comparison, here is the actual temperature map. Note that a bit of warm water shows up in just those same two areas:

From here:

Sea Surface Temperature 20 Jan 2013

Sea Surface Temperature 20 Jan 2013

Visually comparing that map to the CO2 January map (or even the July) shows a lot of commonality between where there is hot water, and CO2 evolution, and cold water with CO2 not so much… Also notice that even in January Hawaii is well inside the ‘hot water’ band. Just sayin’… Wonder what the CO2 measurement would be in the Aleutians? (Someone else can set up that station ;-)

In short, my first working hypothesis would be “It is all about the water temperature”. As we have now gone to generally cooler water temperatures (compared to what I remember of SST a few years back… I need to root around in my archives and see if I saved an image…) it will be interesting to see if there is any moderation in the rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere. If CO2 keeps on rising, then the cold water is not able to ‘keep up’ with the CO2 from elsewhere.

The Aqua / AIRS folks have a different set of images. They also have some ‘interesting’ interpretations based on nothing but conjecture, as near as I can tell. But since NASA is now in the “wholesale conjecture all the time” business, that’s not surprising.

Nasa source

They describe this as due to “coal liquidation”, but I think they mean “liquefaction” and just have a death fixation that slipped out subconsciously…

African View S.H. "belt"

African View S.H. “belt”

Now, when I look at that, I notice that the CO2 is higher on BOTH sides of South Africa. Neat trick, that. Getting a plume from a factory to go both up wind and down wind at the same time.

I know, it’s a lousy image. That’s what they have available. They have a much higher quality full motion video, but thats hard to use for analysis (in part as ‘the world turns’…) The site also claims a much higher res .tif image, but attempts by me to open it result in a self-closing window.

They describe it as:

In the 1950’s, the South African government decided to produce gasoline and chemicals from their plentiful natural supply of coal. The South African Coal liquidation plant also exports carbon dioxide. This image shows AIRS carbon dioxide data from July 2003.

IMHO, the real driver is just that we get CO2 outgassing where the ocean gyres are delivering cold water to be warmed, just at those places where the CO2 increases around the tips of Africa and South America (and even Australia).

Original Image

Ocean Gyres

Ocean Gyres

Which then gets stirred over those land areas by the winds that generally run west to east in that band:

Prevailing Winds

Prevailing Winds

Original Image

Here are the images for South America and Australia as well:

South American CO2 view

South American CO2 view

Described as:

South America Biogenesis seen in AIRS carbon dioxide concentration data from July 2003.

I note they are using winter here, so land plants not absorbing this time of year… but they do in summer.

Australian CO2 view

Australian CO2 view

Described as:

Electrical plants in eastern Australia also export carbon dioxide to the mid-troposphere. This image shows AIRS carbon dioxide data from July 2003.

Neat trick that those “Eastern” power plants manage to spread their CO2 up wind to Western Australia…

Some Comments

I have no doubt at all that in the S. Hemisphere winter folks are burning a lot of fuels and plants are rotting, not growing. However, it’s also pretty clear that some of those higher concentrations are ‘up wind’ from where they are supposedly originating per the ‘blurb’ on the NASA site. To me it looks mighty suspiciously like someone “making stuff up” to blame it on people and fuels use. Completely ignoring a ‘cold to hot’ water transition happening just up wind of those places.

Now look at those blue marbles. In the tropics, where it is raining like crazy, we have a load of CO2 washing out of the air. At the poles, we also have lower CO2 in the cold. High CO2 is found where the air is relatively dry and relatively warm at the same time. (And where people like to live).

Is there no industry in Brazil? Is Petrobras not pumping millions of barrels of oil a day, and burning it? Does Indonesia have no industry? And why is the Sahara so covered in CO2? All those plants and coal to liquids in the sand? /sarcoff;>

I also must wonder just how different the ‘narrative’ would have to be had those been Summer / January images instead, to conform to the Jaxa map above with green in just those areas. Does South Africa not make fuel in summer? Does Australia do without electricity then?

Tallbloke found a temperature CO2 link that is a very tight match. We know that the physics of CO2 says it dissolves well in cold water and comes out of dry hot materials. The images show CO2 higher in dry hot places and times. We can see cold water moving into warming conditions and CO2 higher down wind of them. Is it really all that much of a leap to think that maybe, just maybe, the atmospheric CO2 cycle is driven by temperature and water?

It is also clear that there is no attempt at the NASA site to provide a balanced view. To inspect the data from all sides, all seasons, and present representative ‘compare and contrast’ images. What is presented is ‘cut to fit the narrative’. Not so much science, as a ‘story for effect’. Sad, that.

I can only hope that the Japanese are a bit more complete in their treatment of the data and publish monthly maps for more yearly cycles. Especially interesting will be the ones from after the turn to a colder ocean.

Then There is Computed Flux

In some other thread, somewhere, I had someone assert that rain could not wash CO2 from the air. I forget their exact reasoning, but it was strained. It also ignored that all over the world you can find Karst topology. There’s some nice pictures and diagrams here:

Basically, rain dissolves the limestone so you get sinkholes, caves, underground rivers, and more. The process of dissolving limestone starts with carbonic acid in rainwater…

Interuniversity programme master of science in physical land resources

Karst is a distinctive topology in which landscape is largely shaped by the dissolving action of mildly acidic water (e.g. carbonic acid) on soluble bedrock such as limestone and dolostones, a process…

It is simply the case that looking at any location with Karst topology or natural limestone caves is direct testimony for CO2 being washed from the air via rain. It happens. Most of Florida is that way.

What matters next has to do with that water entering the ocean. Does that carbonate stay dissolved, does it precipitate, does it become clam shells, or does it displace back into the air to begin again. We know that many shells are made, along with corals. (Even in acidic fresh waters, so the shell fish know how to handle that…) We know that some is precipitated (as ‘gut rocks’ from fish, along with foraminifera and more). But what about ocean / air flux of CO2?

These folks claim to have computed it. They used data from a time which, IIRC, there was a warmer flow of water from South America into the central Pacific. It would be good to get a SST map from then and compare to these flux maps, and to present temperatures.

What I find interesting about their maps is that they look an awful lot like sea surface temperature anomaly maps, but don’t seem to reflect the absolute temperatures so much. They also don’t look much at all like the banded structure of the measured maps above. For example:

Annual CO2 computed flux 2000

Annual CO2 computed flux 2000

That “red tongue” into the Pacific from South America shows up in all months maps here:

So looking at their annual average, it sure looks like CO2 outgasses from ancient waters rising off the coast of South America and is dissolving into the colder temperate oceans on each side. A similar upwelling / outgassing candidate is off the coast of the Saudi Peninsula.

So one is left to wonder.

Which of all these ‘narratives’ is true? Is CO2 coming out of warm oceans and going in to cold ones? Or is CO2 coming out of cold waters where the gyres turn warm? Why would there be a red tongue of outgassing off of South America, but no outgassing from hotter waters near Indonesia?

IMHO, the major evidence is that we don’t really know where CO2 is coming from and going to. We have some computed flux maps, that don’t seem to recognize gyres with temperature changes and ocean absolute temperatures. We have images of CO2 supposedly “fluxing” from human sources, yet showing up up wind from them. We’ve got known CO2 stripping via rain making sinkholes in Karst topography world wide, but not a lot of visibility on that rain stripping in the CO2 maps or sea surface maps. Then there is that whole ‘cold water and dissolving’ vs ‘hot water and not’ seen as bands on the satellite data.

Finally, This link is to a nice picture of CO2 outgassing from farmed field with warm soil, in the paper:

forest-edge CO2 flux

forest-edge CO2 flux

Soil CO2 fluxes measured in a forest edge/mowed field transition.

Fluxes (µmol m-2 s-1) were measured on August 18, 2011 in the late afternoon, and are plotted in false color. Isotherms for soil temperature (°C) measured at 5 cm depth are included. Soil temperature correlates positively with soil CO2 flux over much of the study area, with the exception of the region where the highest temperatures were observed. In this small area vegetation is sparse and the soil is predominantly exposed.

What that means is that the difference between forest lands and tilled lands is that the CO2 in the soils (much more than what is in the atmosphere) is outgassing more than the virgin lands did. The depletion of ‘soil tilth’ via agribusiness mining the soils instead of using good soil building practices is largely ignored in the present atmospheric CO2 discussion. It ought not be.

So that raises the question of just how much global CO2 comes from hot ploughed soils that were cool forest floor or at least less hot prairie under 6 foot grasses in prior centuries? How much from conglomerates taking over family farms and stripping the soil that resident farmers build up? To what extent is fuel use being vilified when it really ought to be soil conservation that is under inspection?

Soil carbon is the generic name for carbon held within the soil, primarily in association with its organic content. Soil carbon is the largest terrestrial pool of carbon (2,200 Pg [1] ). Humans have, and will likely continue to have, significantly impacted on the size of this pool. Soil carbon plays a key role in the carbon cycle and thus is important in global climate models.

I think that “Pg” is Peta-grams and not ‘page’ ;-)
(Why folks can’t just say ‘tons’ is beyond me…)

Although the figure is frequently being revised upwards with new discoveries, over 2700 Gt of carbon is stored in soils worldwide, which is well above the combined total of atmosphere (780 Gt) or biomass (575 Gt), most of which is wood. Carbon is taken out of the atmosphere by plant photosynthesis; about 60 Gt annually becomes various types of soil organic matter including surface litter; about 60 Gt annually is respired or oxidized from soil.

Soil carbon is the last major pool of the carbon cycle. The carbon that is fixed by plants is transferred to the soil via dead plant matter including dead roots, leaves and fruiting bodies. This dead organic matter creates a substrate which decomposer respire back to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or methane depending on the availability of oxygen in the soil. Soil carbon can also be oxidized by combustion and returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

Soil carbon is primarily composed of biomass and non-biomass carbon sources. Biomass carbon primarily includes various bacteria and fungi. Non-biomass carbon sources or substrates reflect the chemical composition of plant biomass and primarily include cellulose, starch, lignin and other diverse organic carbon compounds. Some of the substrate carbon will bind to the mineral soil becoming encapsulated in soil aggregates (singular masses of coherent soil particles, or peds) or chemical complexional.

The biomass feeds off of the substrate carbon compounds at different rates. Some of the carbon compounds are easily digested and respired by the microbes resulting in a relatively short residence time. Others, like lignin, humic acid or substrate encapsulated in soil aggregates, are very difficult for the biomass to digest and have very long residence times.
Losses of soil carbon

Although exact quantities cannot be documented, human activities have caused massive losses of soil organic carbon.
First was the use of fire, which removes soil cover and leads to immediate and continuing losses of soil organic carbon. Tillage and drainage both expose soil organic matter to oxygen and oxidation. In the Netherlands, East Anglia, Florida, and the California delta, subsidence of peat lands from oxidation has been severe as a result of tillage and drainage.

Grazing management that exposes soil (either excessive or insufficient recovery periods) can also cause losses of soil organic carbon.

So it looks to me like one of the largest sources of CO2 is being ignored in the whole “CO2 balance” and fuels discussion.

So that’s where I’m ending this exploration. Not because it answers everything; but because that is how far I could get in the time available. Feel free to find more bits and post links.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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22 Responses to CO2 warm dry vs cold wet hypothesis

  1. Tim says:

    “Things that don’t quite make sense since there are trade winds blowing past and the CO2 rise is on both upwind and downwind sides of Africa.”
    Many years ago I had a graphic illustration of how gas molecules can almost completely ignore ‘wind’. I was spraying lacquer on metal cases in our cellar. Knowing my wife’s respiratory system was extremely sensitive to solvent fumes, the cellar door was shut and a large extractor fan was going full blast to the exterior of the house, so there was a strong throughput of air to the outside sucked in from the upper house. The smell of the lacquer was still quite marked in the house, as she subsequently informed me. Obviously the speed of individual molecules was much greater than the ‘wind’ supplied by the fan. Not a scientific experiment, I know!

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Or they went out the vent… and got sucked back into the house from outside due to a fan putting negative pressure on the house! ;-)

  3. Good post as usual EM. If you want to note some seasonal changes on land look at this article posted on my blog . This is just one article referenced by Ernst-Georg Beck here on the literature page eg many which can be downloaded. but most in their original language.
    There has been a concerted effort by some of the outspoken pseudo-scientists associated with climate alarmism to ignore this large amount of literature.
    Becks wavelet spectral analysis on his home page may interest you. Maybe you could explain the technical details which I have not come to grips with..

  4. Stephen Wilde says:

    Came to similar conclusions here:

    “Evidence that Oceans not Man control CO2 emissions “

  5. tallbloke says:

    Another great Post E.M.
    ” To what extent is fuel use being vilified when it really ought to be soil conservation that is under inspection? ”

    Volcanic soils with higher numbers of Sunshine hours on them in the late C20th. That’s your major extra co2 source.

    Nine Gigatonnes a year of co2 outgassing from the old breaking down lava fields in central Italy alone. Whereas the IPCC ‘preferred estimate’ is o.25Gt/yr – for the whole globe.

    More here

  6. FergalR says:

    “It would be very nice to be able to compare ‘same date’ data for sea surface temperatures.”

    Anomaly maps are in the lower half.

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: To me, it looks like the CO2 bands of higher concentration match the places that are warmer / dryer
    Hey E.M.! the Amazon Jungle Warm & Dry, let me tell you you have not been there! It´s the wettest area on the whole world!

    Reply: Look more closely at what I said “HIGHER” concentration where warmer / dryer. Now look at the globe. LOWER (i.e. blue) on the Amazon. I know the Amazon is wet. That is why it is blue on the globe. Low where WET. High where DRY. -E.M.Smith]

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    Must wait until the old paradigm keepers and custodians end their lives and new people replace them to properly understand what the real causes are. However, already our friend M.Vukcevic is pointing to some drivers:
    How confusing this issue it has been for me!: When I was a kid I knew we were being warmed up by the Sun….until some idiots/sages/scientists/politicians/ideologues agreed to anathematize our FATHER SUN (An obvious oedipus complex) and decreed its non existence.

  9. John F. Hultquist says:

    Good post and comments too. Thanks.

    “coal liquidation”,

    That NASA character was typing a note to his/her broker while working on the atmospheric report. Having just seen the latest from the EPA – that was a sell order.

    Seriously, I want to mention I read a couple of papers a year or two ago about the Mauna Loa Observatory CO2 measurement as regards location, altitude, winds, and so on. It all sounded very reasonable and provides useful information.
    Then I wanted to check on the ‘Carbonate compensation depth’ as it might relate to what you are trying to get at in this posting. While doing some searching (time constrained) I came across these two things.

    ~~~~~~Note the self-contradiction front-to-end in one sentence.

    Dissolved carbon dioxide seems to be absent from the deep ocean water and as a result calcium carbonate, from the shells of sea organisms such as foraminifera, as well as carbonates washed into the sea from weathered rocks are able to dissolve in the deepest ocean waters.

    ~~~~~~~Maybe the intent was to say ‘seems to be abundant in’ rather than “absent from.”
    Next, I found this:

    This one is interesting – dealing with deep cold water corals and dating going back 200,000 years. Near the end (under ‘Threats’) – usual stuff – there is this: “For example, corals stopped growing during ice ages.” This should have been thoughtfully explored but the reference to “acidification” suggests it was not. Mentioned next as threats to coral: “offshore industries and bottom trawlers.”

    Almost everything I found this morning is infused with the threat of CO2 to the extent that the search for understanding is stifled. Now, chores. Go to go.

  10. John Robertson says:

    Seems like another tentacle of the misinformation beast.
    Having just read WUWT posting on station bias as of 1959, I am cynically inclined.
    That oceans would outgas as the upwelling water warms?
    Inconceivable in the Gilbert & Sullivan version of modern climatecastrology certainty.
    I do not wish to get too ugly and disgusted, but Ugg.

  11. Stuart says:

    As a point source of CO2 to rival Sasol, one should look to Alberta’s oil sands upgraders, or to Texas City. Lots of natural gas being re-formed down into H2 and CO2, with the H2 being used (the “crack cocaine of refining”) and the CO2 being discharged to atmosphere. The notion that one place on earth is “special” because it supports a narrative is lovely, until one finds similar places that don’t support that same narrative.

  12. sabretoothed says:

    A vast network of under-sea volcanoes pumping out nutrient-rich water in the Southern Ocean plays a key role in soaking up large amounts of carbon dioxide, acting as a brake on climate change, scientists say.

    A group of Australian and French scientists have shown for the first time that the volcanoes are a major source of iron that single-celled plants called phytoplankton need to bloom and in the process soak up CO2, the main greenhouse gas.

    Oceans absorb about a quarter of mankind’s CO2 from burning fossil fuels and deforestation, with the Southern Ocean between Australia and Antarctica among the largest ocean “carbon sinks”.

  13. crosspatch says:

    Furthermore, it looks to me like Hawaii sits in a band of ocean that cycles more / less over the year.

    I have a serious issue with CO2 monitoring at Mauna Loa. Basically the monitoring station sits on top of an active but currently dormant volcano that emits considerable amounts of CO2. This causes readings, depending on wind direction and the amount of CO2 that is emitted on a given day, to vary widely. The way they figure out how much is atmospheric and how much is volcanic is similar to how Micheal Mann determined which tree ring series to use: They simply throw out any readings which don’t fit their model of expected readings. So basically what happens is that the data they present validates their expectation because their expectation is used to validate the input data. Mauna Loa should not be used as a CO2 monitoring station for atmospheric CO2.

  14. Gary says:

    Small nitpick with the paragraph on dissolved CO2 entering the oceans: diatoms have siliceous shells not carbonate. You must have been think foraminifera and coccoliths. Diatoms and radiolaria are the depositors of silicon. Btw, all of these types of plankton have been used extensively in paleo-oceanographic research.

    [Reply: I knew that. Really I did. And not all that long ago even. Now where did I put that memory… it must be around here somewhere… ;-) -E.M.Smith who is thankful and will fix it Real Soon Now…]

  15. Quinn the Eskimo says:

    In light of what you say here, you would likely enjoy these articles by Dr. Jeff Glassman that develop many of these thoughts in full mathematical, physical and chemical depth:

    There are many, many pages of extremely detailed responses to comments.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    OK, I got my Foraminifera sorted from my Diatoms (and put a link to a story I’d done about silicon in diatoms up thread just to show I really did know that, honest ;-) and I’ve read some very nice comments… and collected a few more hours of reading lists and “todo” ideas.

    As the spouse kept me busy most of today, and it’s almost tomorrow now, I’ll likely not have a lot to add right now.

    Though I do wonder why nobody came forward with an offer to send me to the Falklands to set up an independent CO2 monitor station ;-)

    I do have to wonder just how hard / expensive it would be to set up such a machine and just post a continuous live data stream. Since generally the winds come straight in off the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast here, it ought not be that hard to find a nice little non-volcanic spot to park a meter and send out data. Heck, even Point Reyes sticks out a ways into the ocean and would give decent data 99% or so of the time.


    The volcanic rock breakdown issue is going to send me digging for a couple of days. Interesting point. The magma is outgassing as the stuff comes up, the rock won’t be 100% done; so it’s going to happen over time. Had not thought about that…

    More when I catch up some other things…

  17. Joel Heinrich says:

    Well, you might want to take a look at this site:

    another one is this:

  18. Joel Heinrich says:

    Oh, and just because it’s so much fun, here is the difference when you don’t take out the “outliers” to when you do take out the “outliers” :

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Joel Heinrich:

    That’s amazing. Looks to me like summer has a lot more heat driven outgassing events, but a ‘can go lower’ from photosynthesis driven activity. Winters both ‘go away’ in that photosynthesis is lower ( a lot) and heat driven outgassing much reduced. It certainly doesn’t look at all like a smooth line of ‘well mixed gas’….

  20. Gail Combs says:

    Thanks ChiefIO for putting this up. I sure hope the Japanese up date their map on a routine basis. even once a quarter would be nice.

    I agree with Crosspatch that Mauna Loa should not be used as a CO2 monitoring station for atmospheric CO2. I would fire a lab tech for using the ‘method’ they use. I do not think they could have come up with a better place to generate faked data than Mauna Loa.

    To add to the references (It is nice to have a lot of them gathered in one place):

    Click to access NZCPR-08.pdf

    Click to access stoten92.pdf

    Click to access Kauffman_JSE-21-4-723_2007.pdf

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