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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity?

Been enjoying my break from major blogging.  During that break not much has changed though there are a few interesting shifts by some to my perspective.  The being that the general thermodynamic approaches used are not really fit for purpose.

A large part of that is Equilibrium which is a bit of a stretch for a planetary scale open system.  The average ocean temperature ultimately will control what degree of equilibrium is reached and the time scales aren't really well known.  Based on the current estimated rate of heat uptake, current estimate of "average" temperature and the estimate of total ocean volume it should be over 300 years before a 1 degree rise could reach "equilibrium".  Add to that what should be considered "normal" or "pre-industrial" and the use of equilibrium can get abused.

There has even been some mention of how estimates of solar energy estimates could be tweaked.  For the oceans the solar pond approach which considers the changing angle of incidence is what I would think the way to go and is included in some models but the overly simplistic TSI/4 is still used in most conversations instead of the more appropriate TSI/pi().  Since various layers of the ocean and atmosphere absorb solar energy and the atmosphere tends to bend light, the smaller imbalance becomes the greater the error simplifying assumptions will produce.

Just using crude estimates, the oceans should have an imbalance on the order of 0.2 Wm-2 just because of the current timing of the southern hemisphere dominate solar precessional cycle.  That alone could be a third of the current imbalance leaving the anthropogenic portion of the imbalance in the 0.4 Wm-2 range or about 40% of original estimates.

Somewhat surprisingly, the neutral to negative CO2 forcing in the Antarctic and really any extremely cold region, has finally gotten some peer reviewed press only 5 short years after my picking on the gang at Real Climate about the issue.  My, how climate science progress flies.

As I have mentioned, the poles are the ultimate heat sink from a thermo perspective with the stability of the polar vortex being part of the relief mechanism for excess warming.  A single major breakdown of a polar vortex can release as much energy as the oceans can uptake in a year.  That shouldn't stop warming, but it will delay the rate of uptake on that unknowable path to a possibly unattainable equilibrium.

All of this brings me to the conclusion that a bunch of educated guesses are likely much better than any number of expensive modeling attempts.  Once you consider that, 1.6 C per doubling with about half of that never to be realized 0.8C +/-0.3C is likely with a slight chance of 1.6C +/-0.5 C if by some remarkable accident "climate" really has no variability on longer time scales.

Also it is interesting that land use impacts are getting a bit more respect.  While the radiant impact of land use change is small, changes in soil carbon and moisture are a bit more important.  Possibly 1/3 of the CO2 in the atmosphere is related to land use and up to 1/2 if you consider the reduction in carbon uptake had trees and such been used for something other than food and fuel.

On the food to fuel front, there are a few interesting complex economics papers stating what should have been obvious about the impact on food prices which tends to stress all economics leading people to start doing things like pondering the end of days and global domination.  Even the poor invasive honey bee is over stressed trying to pollinate all those healthy almond trees in drought stricken California while butterfly and bee fans are calling for more pasture land to stave off possible extinctions.  GMO crops are of course the designated villain since no health food nut would ever blame almond mono-culture.

Some how, contaminated water supplies have avoided the Climate Change blame game as northern union supporting cities rapidly replace failing iron and lead water mains with iron and copper water mains instead of non-conductive and mainly non-union PVC and HPDE water mains like those ignorant red states are doing.  I doubt that will last very long since winter freeze/thaws tend to signal the beginning of water main break season in the far North and everything weather is of course "Climate Change" caused.

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