16 January 2008

Climate Change: It's the Water, Stupid!

The effect of water in the atmosphere--in vapour and various types of clouds--is hugely important, but poorly understood by climate modelers.
An extremely important and challenging paper, ‘Coupling of water and carbon fluxes via the terrestrial biosphere and its significance to the Earth’s climate system’, has just been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research (Vol. 112, 2007: doi:10.1029/2007JD008431). The paper is by Paul R. Ferguson and the eminent, Professor Ján Veizer, of the Department of Earth Sciences and Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, University of Ottawa, Canada.

... it seems probable that the larger water cycle controls the much smaller carbon cycle, not vice versa, and other limitations to plant growth, such as atmospheric carbon dioxide, nutrients, and temperature are likely superimposed phenomena. Intuitively, the validity of this assertion should be apparent and cannot be considered novel, as biological studies have established the connection between the water and carbon cycles at a variety of spatial and temporal scales....results are informative and emphasize the inter-dependency between solar radiation, water vapor, and carbon dioxide in determining the interaction between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere, and ultimately, the Earth’s climate.”
H/T Tom Nelson

Another curious discovery pointed to by Tom Nelson, is this interesting look at climate research from 1965 that considers atmospheric CO2 to be a "cooling forcing" rather than warming.

Science simply does not understand the dynamics of the sun--ocean--atmosphere--land surface dynamic well enough to create trustworthy computer models, GCMs. The abysmal inability of the IPCC temperature projections from the 1990s to reasonably predict the temperatures of the 2000s thus far, should be enough to introduce a seed of doubt in anyone but the devoutest true believer in climate orthodoxy. Update: Also see Hansen's prediction record.

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