Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

19 March 2013

An Unsettling Removal of Atmospheric CO2 by Plankton

Adam C. Martiny and a crew of mostly researchers from the University of California - Irvine have just published a study in Nature Geoscience that indicates that phytoplankton in warm ocean waters use up far more of the so-called greenhouse gas CO2 than had been previously thought.  The overall result is that about twice as much CO2 is taken up by plant life in the oceans as had been previously thought.

Many textbooks and practitioners of ocean biogeochemistry have long thought that phytoplankton, their excretions, and dissolved nutrients in the ocean interior maintained a ratio of carbon to nitrogen to phosphorus of 106:16:1.  This is known as the Redfield ratio, which Alfred Redfield established in 1934.

Martiny, et al., showed experimentally that this ratio varies considerably in the oceans, mostly as a function of latitude.  They observed carbon enrichment in the phytoplankton as high as 195:28:1 in warm, nutrient-deprived low-latitude areas with closed-loop circular currents.  In warm, nutrient-rich upwelling areas, the ratio was 137:18:1.  In cold, nutrient-rich high-latitude areas, the ratio was 78:13:1.

Some models had shown the possibility of such variations of the Redfield ratio and some field and laboratory measurements had shown differences with the Redfield ratio.  But, this large sample study should put that persistent ratio into retirement.  The settled science has another unsettling reality check!

I am of the opinion that while the first little bit of CO2 may contribute to warming, additional CO2 with common water vapor concentrations, does not cause significant Earth surface temperature change.  Insofar as it does, it is likely to act as a coolant to the surface, even as it raises the temperature of air at altitudes above the main water vapor concentration top.  This is because the much ignored absorption of solar insolation by added CO2 is greater than is appreciated and this cools the surface.

The IPCC claim of catastrophic CO2-induced warming depended upon an assumption that increased CO2 had caused all of the warming since the end of the Little Ice Age (or the dawn of the Industrial Age) and a posited positive feedback by increased water vapor due to the warming said to be caused by increased CO2.  The assumption that CO2 had caused all the warming since the Little Ice Age was extremely questionable and therefor a likely exaggeration.  The positive feedback due to increased water vapor due to warming is looking more and more to be a mild negative feedback, making the Earth's climate a lot less unstable.

Increasing the partial pressure of CO2 over the oceans will cause them to absorb more CO2, which is another negative feedback mechanism.  Now we find out that increased CO2 is used up by ocean phytoplankton in greater quantities than previously thought and that the warmer the ocean the more CO2 is used up.  This again is a negative feedback mechanism.

The Earth and its ecosystems do not seem to want to cooperate with the catastrophic predictions of the settled science of the Earth's climate based on man-made global warming.  It appears they have a proclivity toward much more stability.  Although we must note that this means that a more stable climate creates a most unstable status for the settled science!

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