atmospheric science climate change and carbon


The First Climate Model Turns 50, And Predicted Global Warming Almost Perfectly

“The big advance of Manabe and Wetherald’s work was to model not just the feedbacks but the interrelationships between the different components that contribute to the Earth’s temperature. As the atmospheric contents change, so do both the absolute and relative humidity, which impacts cloud cover, water vapor content and cycling/convection of the atmosphere. What they found is that if you start with a stable initial state – roughly what Earth experienced for thousands of years prior to the start of the industrial revolution – you can tinker with one component (like CO2) and model how everything else evolves.”

In 1967, a groundbreaking paper in climate science was published, detailing the inputs and feedbacks for the first accurate climate model. You don’t have to look far to find contentions that climate models are wrong, inaccurate and unreliable: 8 of the first 10 results on google state it. Yet if you look at the science, the original model, even at age 50, does a remarkable job of getting things right. The biggest success? Understanding how large-scale processes work, including the thermodynamic effects of adding additional greenhouse gases to Earth’s atmosphere. The increase of temperature – approximately 2 degrees C for a doubling of CO2 – was well known then, and continues to be well known today. There are uncertainties and difficulties in modern models, but that doesn’t mean there’s uncertainty surrounding global warming. Quite to the contrary, the evidence has never been better.

The time for debate has long since passed, and claiming we live in a post-fact era doesn’t change the scientific truth or the urgency and necessity of global action. Come get the science today.


Computational fluid dynamics and supercomputing are increasingly powerful tools for tracking and understanding the complex dynamics of our planet. The videos above and below are NASA visualizations of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere over the course of a full year. They are constructed by taking real-world measurements of atmospheric conditions and carbon emissions and feeding them into a computational model that simulates the physics of our planet’s oceans and atmosphere. The result is a visualization of where and how carbon dioxide moves around our planet.

There are distinctive patterns that emerge in a visualization like this. Because the Northern Hemisphere contains more landmass and more countries emitting carbon, it contains the highest concentrations of carbon dioxide, but winds move those emissions far from their source. As seasons change and plants begin photosynthesizing in the Northern Hemisphere, concentrations of carbon dioxide decrease as plants take it up. When the seasons change again, that carbon is re-released.

These visualizations underscore the fact that these carbon emissions impact everyone on our planet–nature does not recognize political borders–and so we share a joint responsibility in whatever actions we take. (Video credit: NASA Goddard; h/t to Chris for the second vid)

Future carbon dioxide, climate warming potentially unprecedented in 420 million years

New research led by the University of Southampton suggests that, over the next 100 to 200 years, carbon dioxide concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere will head towards values not seen since the Triassic period, 200 million years ago. Furthermore, by the 23rd century, the climate could reach a warmth not seen in 420 million years.

The study, published in Nature Communications, compiled over 1200 estimates of ancient atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations to produce a continuous record dating back nearly half a billion years. It concludes that if humanity burns all available fossil fuels in the future, the levels of CO2 contained in the atmosphere may have no geologically-preserved equivalent during this 420 million year period.

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We can take small comfort in one thing. Although right now we don’t worry enough about incoming disaster from Up There, we do worry a lot about home-grown disaster Down Here: nuclear war-fare, biological warfare, global warming, pollution, overpopulation, destruction of habitat, burning of the rainforests, and so on. However, there’s no danger that human actions will wipe out the planet. Compared to what nature has already done, and will do again, our activities barely show up. one large meteorite packs more explosive power than all human wars put together, a hypothetical World War III included. One Ice Age changes the climate more than a civilization’s worth of carbon dioxide from car exhausts. As for something like the Deccan Traps… you wouldn’t want to know how nasty the atmosphere could become.
No, we can’t destroy the Earth. We can destroy ourselves.
No one would care. The cockroaches and the rats will come back, or if the worst comes to the worst the bacteria miles below ground will start to write a new opening chapter in the Book of Life. Someone else will read it.

– on the future | Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld


If we don’t cut carbon emissions, we’re more screwed than we thought

New reports from the journal Nature Geoscience and the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics showed how, even with our efforts to curb global warming and keep emissions low, we humans are still dooming the planet we stand on. According to researchers on the Nature Geoscience study, what’s happening now to our world looks remarkably similar to what’s called the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum.

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Fossil fuels are killing the environment. Renewable energy is the answer.

In order to combat the devastating effects of climate change, the burning of fossil fuels must be addressed. “Over the last century, the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide,” according to NASA, which in turn, has contributed to the warming of the planet. Renewable energy, in all its forms, is the answer.

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Every observatory in the world now reports carbon dioxide is at highest level in 4 million years

One by one, the observatories sounded the alarm in the past few years—from the peak of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, and the top of the Greenland ice sheet—as the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere crept above 400 parts per million (ppm).

The last alarm bells went off this week, when scientists announced that the Halley Research Station in Antarctica, as well as a monitoring post at the geographic South Pole, both located amid the most pristine air on the planet, have now passed the 400 ppm mark.

In other words, at every location on Earth where scientists routinely monitor carbon dioxide levels, we are now entering uncharted territory for humanity.

Beano for Cows Reduces Greenhouse Burps

Let’s get this out of the way first: Cow burps are a real problem. 

To get enough nutrition from the plants they survive on, the livestock have evolved a four-compartment stomach that acts as a bioreactor. When a cow eats grass or hay, billions of microbes living in the big, complex organ get to work digesting the partially chewed plants. Through this process of fermentation, otherwise indigestible roughage is broken down into nourishing food for the animal.

But other byproducts of fermentation are methane and carbon dioxide, two gases known to contribute to global warming. The collective belching of all the world’s 1.43 billion beef and dairy cows contributes a significant amount of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. Livestock, for instance, produce around 25 percent of all methane emissions that come from human activities in the U.S. And the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that ruminant livestock digestion produces the equivalent of almost 2.5 billion metric tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide every year. 

Now researchers say they are working on an antigas inhibitor that can be put in cow feed to significantly reduce climate-changing burps. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University and Dutch life and materials sciences company DSM have found that an enzyme inhibitor called 3-nitrooxypropanol reduced methane emissions in cows by 30 percent. Learn more below. 

Photo: Dairy cow feeding at Shelburne Farms, Vermont. Photo copyright Michael Keller.

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A 50th anniversary few remember: LBJ's warning on carbon dioxide — The Daily Climate

In case you didn’t know. President Lyndon B Johnson called out anthropogenic (man made) climate change in 1965. He said his generation had altered the atmosphere on a global scale with the burning of fossil fuels. You can choose to believe that or not, just like you can choose to believe if the sun comes up in the east or not. But the science isn’t new. Just like the knowledge of where the sun rises isn’t either. The warnings about climate change are older then me (47 years old).The denial is the new kid on the block. “Between 2002 and 2010, conservative billionaires secretly donated nearly $120 million (£77 million) via two trusts (Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund) to more than 100 organizations seeking to cast doubt on the science behind climate change.”(Goldenberg, Suzanne (14 February 2013). “Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks”. The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 March 2013.via Wikipedia)

So if you have been living in Climate Change Denial, it’s okay, you have been fooled. We have all been fooled at one time or another in our lives. We have all been ripped off at one time or another. It’s embarrassing to be ripped off. We feel ashamed when a used car salesman knowingly sells us a lemon. We feel duped, and some folks don’t like it when a friend or a neighbor tells them that the “new” car they have been driving around is a turkey turd. Believe it or not, if you are still holding on to the idea that anthropogenic climate change is not real and there is nothing we can do about it, you are driving a lemon and you just don’t know it yet. Don’t get mad at your friend because he is the one that told you you bought a lemon. Get mad at the billionaires that opened up the Lemon Shop in 2002 and have been hocking turkey turds since.

There is no shame in being ripped off, there is no shame in changing your thinking based on new information. The truth comes to each of us in its own way. We may not want to hear it or like it because it asks us to change our beliefs or because it is scary but the truth is the truth. Just like the sunrise. The truth is not changed by anyone’s will or beliefs, it’s not changed by throwing vast amounts of money at a campaign of lies. Yes, the truth can be obscured for a time, we can be made to be confused but in the end the truth will find it’s way to the surface.

People move into denial when what they are being confronted with what seems too large and difficult to deal with. Yes, we are given some pretty vast challenges in the face of climate change. But don’t loose hope, there are ways to deal with it that are available to us today. We do not have to move into caves, stop heating our homes, stop driving our cars or live in darkness. There are ways to move forward. If you want some hope check out this… (TheSolutionsProject.Org)

if you want to know more about the Lemon Factory check this out… (


This Nigerian College Student Built a Wind- And Solar-Powered Car From Scraps

Segun Oyeyiola took a Volkswagen Beetle and turned it into a fully renewable off-road vehicle. He’s not going to stop working on it until it becomes the future of driving in Nigeria.

When it comes to the success of the electric car, billionaire Elon Musk is viewed as nothing short of a miracle worker. But roughly 8,000 miles away from Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters, Segun Oyeyiola has also managed to make something extraordinary on a smaller scale. The engineering senior at Nigeria’s Obagemi Awolowo University spent a year retrofitting a Volkswagen Beetle into a wind and solar-powered car, partly made of free scrap parts donated by friends and family. Everything else cost under $6,000.

There’s little question as to why Oyeyiola, who is taking his finals in the next two weeks, would devote so much of his extra-curricular time and resources to the project.

As he wrote in an email to Co.Exist:

“I wanted to reduce carbon dioxide emission[s] going to our atmosphere that lead to climate change or global warming which has become a new reality, with deleterious effect: seasonal cycles are disrupted, as are ecosystems; and agriculture, water needs and supply, and food production are all adversely affected.”

“Therefore, I came up of building a car that will use both winds and solar energy for its movement,” he continued. “This was my personal project because of the problem I’m planning to solve." (Read more)

Source: FastCo.Exist


These gifs come from the NASA supercomputer model making the rounds today that shows how carbon dioxide travels around the world. Scientists pump one year of real emissions and atmospheric data into a model that then simulates the behavior of greenhouse gases in the air. It’s all compressed into a few minutes.

We were particularly struck by watching Earth’s growing plants in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring and summer seasons take what can best be described as a big collective inhale. Their activity tapers off in fall and winter–many plants go dormant and deciduous trees drop their leaves and stop making sap. But when temperatures start to rise again, photosynthetic organisms on land and in the ocean kick back into high gear converting sunlight and CO2 into the chemical energy they need.

In the video below, NASA climate scientist Bill Putman notes how human activities tip the balance in the natural cycle. About half of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuel combustion remains in the atmosphere while the other half gets absorbed by natural reservoirs.

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Clouds could be making climate change worse

Clouds could dramatically increasing the rate of climate change, according to a report published in Science on Friday. The report explains that currently, conventional models have predicted the highest global temperature increase to be 4.6 degrees Celsius under the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity — the relationship between concentrations of carbon dioxide and temperature in the atmosphere. However, cloud patterns, which have not been seriously considered until now, could increase that number as high as 5.3 degrees Celsius. Here’s how it works.

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“Incoming light from the sun hits the surface. The earth absorbs much of that energy, which heats the planet up and makes the surface glow in infrared light. But the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbs most of that outgoing heat radiation, sending much of it right back to the surface. This makes the planet even warmer. That’s all there is to the greenhouse effect. It’s basic physics, just bookkeeping of the energy flow. There’s nothing controversial about it.”

-Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey



by Sustainable Human (4:51 min)

When whales were at their historic populations, before their numbers were reduced, it seems that whales might have been responsible for removing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year. Whales change the climate. The return of the great whales, if they are allowed to recover, could be seen as a benign form of geo-engineering. It could undo some of the damage we have done, both to the living systems of the sea, and to the atmosphere.

Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984

A surge in atmospheric CO2 saw levels of greenhouse gases reach record levels in 2013, according to new figures.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 grew at their fastest rate since 1984.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says that it highlights the need for a global climate treaty.

But the UK’s energy secretary Ed Davey said that any such agreement might not contain legally binding emissions cuts, as has been previously envisaged.

The WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin doesn’t measure emissions from power station smokestacks but instead records how much of the warming gases remain in the atmosphere after the complex interactions that take place between the air, the land and the oceans.

About half of all emissions are taken up by the seas, trees and living things.

According to the bulletin, the globally averaged amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, an increase of almost 3ppm over the previous year.

“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the WMO.

Atmospheric CO2 is now at 142% of the levels in 1750, before the start of the industrial revolution.

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NASA set to launch OCO-2 observatory on July 1 – Sniffer of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas

After a lengthy hiatus, the workhorse Delta II rocket that first launched a quarter of a century ago and placed numerous renowned NASA science missions into Earth orbit and interplanetary space, as well as lofting dozens of commercial and DOD missions, is about to soar again this week on July 1 with NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) sniffer to study atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

OCO-2 is NASA’s first mission dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas and the principal human-produced driver of climate change.

The 999 pound (454 kilogram) observatory is equipped with one science instrument consisting of three high-resolution, near-infrared spectrometers fed by a common telescope. It will collect global measurements of atmospheric CO2 to provide scientists with a better idea of how CO2 impacts climate change.

The $467.7 million OCO-2 mission is set to blastoff atop the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket on Tuesday, July 1 from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Delta II will boost OCO-2 into a 438-mile (705-kilometer) altitude, near-polar orbit. Spacecraft separation from the rocket occurs 56 minutes 15 seconds after launch.

It will lead a constellation of five other international Earth monitoring satellites that circle Earth.

The phone-booth sized OCO-2 was built by Orbital Sciences and is a replacement for the original OCO which was destroyed during the failed launch of a Taurus XL rocket from Vandenberg back in February 2009 when the payload fairing failed to open properly.

Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission will provide a global picture of the human and natural sources of carbon dioxide, as well as their “sinks,” the natural ocean and land processes by which carbon dioxide is pulled out of Earth’s atmosphere and stored, according to NASA..

It will record around 100,000 CO2 measurements around the world every day and help determine its source and fate in an effort to understand how human activities impact climate change and how we can mitigate its effects.

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, there were about 280 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. As of today the CO2 level has risen to about 400 parts per million.

Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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Neil deGrasse Tyson on Climate Change

What’s up with climate change? In this video from Business Insider and StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the impact of burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. You’ll learn about melting icecaps, rising water levels, and the potential impact of coastal erosion on civilization. Neil also discusses the greenhouse effect and global warming, and why he doesn’t want Earth to end up like Venus.

By: StarTalk Radio.