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Earth Science

BEST Study Finds Temperature Changes Explained by GHG Emissions and Volcanoes 355

riverat1 writes "The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature studies latest release finds that land surface temperature changes since 1750 are nearly completely explained by increases in greenhouse gases and large volcanic eruptions. They also said that including solar forcing did not significantly improve the fit. Unlike the other major temperature records BEST used nearly all available temperature records instead of just a representative sample. Yet to come is an analysis that includes ocean temperatures."
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BEST Study Finds Temperature Changes Explained by GHG Emissions and Volcanoes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:35AM (#42644841)

    Do we really want to believe what Richard Mueller has to say about climate change. First he denied climate change, now he says it is all man made. Oh, he is funded by the Koch Brothers and the Getty family. No bias there. I heard him interviewed last year about becoming a believer in man made climate change. But he believes that the proposed solutions to climate change are all wrong.He prefers natural gas over renewable energy sources like wind and solar. The Koch brothers finally realized that they can't continue to deny climate change and haven't figured out how to make money from wind and solar, so they will promote natural gas still produces large amounts of carbon.

  • Typical bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by PostPhil ( 739179 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:43AM (#42644861)

    The summary makes it sound like volcanoes are the explanation for greenhouse gases, which is completely false. It doesn't say that at all. Actually, it's the opposite.

    RTFA and you learn (as quoted from the .PDF supplied by the article): "According to a new Berkely Earth study released today, the average temperature of Earth's land has risen by 1.5 C over the past 250 years. The good match between the new temperature record and historical carbon dioxide records suggests that the most straightforward explanation for this warming is human greenhouse gas emissions." (Emphasis mine.)

    The .PDF article explains that human CO2 contribution, volcanic activity, and ocean activity (e.g. Gulf Stream and El Nino) are the biggest contributors that are needed to match the graph of temperatures over time. But volcanoes follow the drops in temperature on the graph, not the rises in temperature. Contributions from solar activity exist but were determined to be negligible. They explain that CO2 doesn't prove to be responsible for the warming, but is by far the best contender. As stated by the scientific director, "To be considered seriously, any alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as does carbon dioxide." So denialists can't simply supply "common sense" alternatives: the alternatives must match the data at least as well (or better) than CO2.

  • by Moses48 ( 1849872 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:48AM (#42644879)

    The article shows a correlation between volcanoes and dips in climate. Also they attribute all climate rise to mostly CO2 and say that solar/urbanization/etc has not caused noticeable climate change. They attribute CO2 increase to both humans and volcanoes.

    See correlation here: [] The theory is that the recent (1956+) rise is mostly AGW.

  • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:56AM (#42644909) Homepage Journal

    If we just plug up the volcanos, everything will be fine!

    Humans emit 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes. The ash clouds of volcanoes typically cause a temporary cooling.

  • Spark notes (Score:5, Informative)

    by a_n_d_e_r_s ( 136412 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:10AM (#42644971) Homepage Journal

    1. Temperarature rise for the last 250 years of 1.5 degree C is entirely because of increased CO2 emissions.
    2. Vulcanic activity can seriously lower the earths temperature and affects the curve with downward spikes.

    No other activity shows any significant colleration towards earth temperature. They have checked against solar flares and other activites and all they compared against has had no impact. CO2 rise looks to be the major cause behind it all.

    Basically they are saying: Critics of AGW are wrong.

    The data will be fully available on their webplacce form 30 july with abilities for visitors to test the data themselves and to toy with how the temperature rise has affected their local temperature.

  • Re:Koch Brothers? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gargleblast ( 683147 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:14AM (#42644991)

    Isnt this the group that was funded by the Koch brothers and hand picked with denialist?

    Muller was rather more of a skeptic than a denialist.

    I'm not aware of David and Charle's Koch specific opinions on the BEST results, but in the denialist blogosphere, Muller and BEST went from white knights to treacherous scum overnight. Compare Anthony Watt's comments before the announcements []:

    I have no certainty nor expectations in the results. Like them, I have no idea whether it will show more warming, about the same, no change, or cooling in the land surface temperature record they are analyzing ... I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong. I’m taking this bold step because the method has promise. So let’s not pay attention to the little yippers who want to tear it down before they even see the results.

    and after []:

    And still, he hasn’t published anything and his papers have not passed peer review, but the political apparatchik wants to showcase the incomplete and rushed, non quality controlled, error riddled BEST science as if it were factual enough to kill off “denialism” worldwide. That’s political desperation in my opinion.

  • by B1oodAnge1 ( 1485419 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:18AM (#42645003)

    I pretty sure no serious (by which I mean logically sound) skeptical arguments deny that CO2 contributes to warming.
    The actual controversy is over how we can expect the warming to be exacerbated or alleviated by feedback loops.
    "Alarmists" tend to claim runaway positive feedback loops will cause a dramatic rise in temperature in the near future, while "denialists" tend to argue that these positive feedback loops are counteracted by negative feedback loops that tend to keep the temperature within a reasonable range.

  • Re:Not credible (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:29AM (#42645035) Journal
    They're planning on submitting it to a journal, but haven't yet. From the link:

    The Berkeley Earth team is making these preliminary results public, together with the analysis programs and data set in order to invite additional scrutiny as part of the peer review process.

  • Re:Predictions? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:30AM (#42645041) Homepage

    The point of this was that it wouldn't use complex models where they tweak to fit expectations. Instead it plots atmospheric CO2 against global temperature, specifically accounting for denier favorites like urban heat islands, volcanoes, poor station condition, data selection bias, and transparency. All the data is available at the site so anyone can run the numbers themselves. According to them, and by the looks of their graphs, it's a shockingly close match.

    The conclusion is that the temperature rise is from human greenhouse emissions. As always, everyone is free to try to come up with more convincing evidence to the contrary.

  • Re:Predictions? (Score:5, Informative)

    by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:13AM (#42645201)

    Come on -- predict, and cast in concrete, the average tropospheric temperature from 2013 to 2018, with a low margin of error, and "lock it in".

    The problem with that is that climate scientists don't even try to predict temperatures on such a short time scale since natural variability can completely override any long term climate signal over less than around 20 years.

  • by meglon ( 1001833 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:16AM (#42645223)
    It's all about the sulfur. []

    Ok, maybe not all.. there's those large parasols women were using in the 1880's that did a little.
  • by Tom Womack ( 8005 ) <> on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:37AM (#42645307) Homepage

    And human industry also emits significantly more SO2 than volcanoes; you don't get a Pinatubo every decade, and China alone emits two Pinatubos of SO2 annually.

  • Re:Predictions? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday January 21, 2013 @06:02AM (#42645407)

    Uh-huh, big whoop. We've had heaps of models that fit the historical data - that's the easy part. It's all there, you can tweak your model as you like until it fits the historicals just right. The value of a model isn't in how well it fits the historical data, but how well it predicts future data.

    So crank a prediction or two out of this puppy and get back to us in a decade.

    They don't have to wait for a decade, they can just crop out the last decade of data and ask the model minus 10 years of data to predict it. Since they already have the answer, they'll know if it fits.

    The is routinely done with large timescale models like the atmosphere and the ocean.

  • [citation needed] (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @06:39AM (#42645533)

    Seriously, this study is saying exactly the opposite - the sun has no effect, it's all CO2, and that CO2 comes from human activity and volcanic activity.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Monday January 21, 2013 @06:59AM (#42645593)

    "Queue the military-industrial complex lobbying for money for volcano-nuking projects."

    The study is funded by the Koch brothers and the Charles Koch foundation. []

    I rest my case.

  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @07:02AM (#42645607) Homepage

    Actually I seem to recall that gas produces far less CO2 for energy produced that coal or oil.

    It does, but there's still a huge problem with natural gas. The reason it hasn't passed yet, is the expansion of what was previously called unconventional gas - natural gas extracted by fracking. While the groundwater issues related to fracking has gained much attention, and are serious enough, what's worse in the long run is that a lot of the gas from such operations escapes directly into the atmosphere. Since methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and fracking is itself energy-intensive (we spend a lot of natural gas to get at a little more natural gas), some studies have estimated it as on level with coal for the climate.

  • Re:Predictions? (Score:5, Informative)

    by amck ( 34780 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @07:26AM (#42645665) Homepage

    We already do something like this: IPCC projections []. We do investigate previous projections to see how they worked / what they got wrong. Its a large part of what we do as scientists.

    And you can do it too: the early models are still available (eg I think the EdGCM model is based on the early GISS model); these days you can run what used to take a supercomputer on your PC and repeat the runs.

    But as climate scientists we're not in the business of playing "I told you so" with denialists. The 64 billion dollar question is : what will happen? we need to adapt and react to climate change, and knowing exactly whats happening is important: shrinking the error bars on those model runs translates to billions of dolllars of taxpayers money that needs / doesn't need to be spent : e.g. knowing the lengths of droughts, how much water needs to be stored. the scale of sea level rise, etc. This is why the climate models are important.

  • Re:Predictions? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jcupitt65 ( 68879 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @07:37AM (#42645693)

    Exactly. Look at global temperature for the last 250 years plotted with CO2+volcanos and a simple fit: []

    There's almost no modelling there, it's just plotting two sets of measurements together.

    If you think CO2 is not the cause, you need to find two things: another warming effect that fits the data at least as well as CO2 (and it has to be a huge warming effect that no one's noticed before), plus an equally large cooling effect to cancel out all the heat that we know the CO2 will have added to the atmosphere. This is possible, of course, but not very likely.

  • Re:Koch Brothers? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:14AM (#42645823) Homepage

    The sun's output is easy to measure.

    Given that, you'd think there'd be some solid evidence to back up your claim...but noooo.

  • Re:Koch Brothers? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:24AM (#42645851)

    First Phase
    The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund ($20,000)
    William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation ($100,000)
    Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (created by Bill Gates) ($100,000)
    Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($150,000)
    The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation ($50,000)
    We also received funding from a number of private individuals, totaling $14,500 as of June 2011.

    Second Phase
    William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation ($100,000)
    The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation ($50,000)
    Anonymous Foundation ($250,000)

    So the two single largest specific funders are Koch related and an unnamed group.

    Your bad! LMAO []

  • by bdeclerc ( 129522 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @09:59AM (#42646365) Homepage

    I still wonder about those graphs that show CO2 lagging temperature by 800 years during past global warming events.

    You still wonder about something that has been *explained* umpteen times, I can image not being interested enough to look stuff up, but please don't involve yourself in a debate if your knowledge is 20 years out of date... (I'm sorry to come over all agressive, but I've this exact argument trotted out for over a decade.)

    Long-term climate change (tens to hundreds of thousands of years) is influenced by changes in the orbit of the moon (google Milankovitch if you want).

    Slight change in orbit --> causes slight warming --> causes CO2 release --> causes more warming ---> switches between ice-ages & intermediate periods.

    The delta-T between the "change in orbit" and the "CO2 release" was about 800 years, which accounts for the lag.

    The current change is *different* becuase the CO2 release is not caused by changes in orbit, but by man burning millions of years of stored carbon in a few centuries.

    So we're skipping the first bit that ook 800 years, and going almost instantaneously to the "more warming" bit... which is why we are now seeing faster warming of the planet than was ever seen in the climatological records, going back hundreds of thousands of years (and probably much, much longer, but the farther back we go, the harder it becomes to measure how fast temperature changes actually happened).

  • by feedayeen ( 1322473 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:00AM (#42646377)

    Please cite a source on this. I would love to see if this is truly fact. My own research into the matter suggests not, but I am willing to be wrong. Where are you getting the figure "100 times more"? It is quite interesting that your number works out so exactly to 100.

    P.S. @Moderators - "Informative". Really?

    If you were any more obtuse, I'd be able to use you as a decent approximation for pi. []

    First 5 links all agree with a number on the order of 100 time greater, I stopped bothering to look after that.

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@got . n et> on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:14AM (#42646477) Journal

    The event in Australia broke more records than you could possible shake a stick at. Go here [] for just the briefest scientific review of the incident. Here's a quote: "A relatively small change in the average temperature can easily double the frequency of extreme heat events. Australia has warmed steadily since the 1940s, and the probability of extreme heat has now increased almost five-fold compared with 50 years ago." What part of this do you not get. Globally, spring comes 3 weeks earlier than 50 years ago. The clear and unmistakable results of climate change measure in the ten of thousands of unique individual events and phenomena. Taken as a body of evidence you'd have a better chance of arguing against evolution (and the body of evidence doesn't stop ideologues from doing that either.) Why is it that I'm yelling "Hey, dummy your arse is burning!" and instead of putting it out and thanking me for saving your life, you choose instead get insulting and indignant.

    I'm point at trends, when data point after data point in one direction you get a trend. The system is incredibly complex, melting in the arctic messes with the haline cycle (and recent changes in the Gulf Stream suggest global current changes may be imminent.) These changes would have profound effects on global climate particularly cutting warm currents to the extreme latitudes causing dramatically colder winters. So there are a number of possible outcomes, when you perturb a system as complex as global weather, it's like throwing dice, many possible things can happen because there are many competing feedback loops and we still can't produce predictive models with the subtlety to give us long term predictions of complex chaotic systems.

    That said, we can look at more general possibilities and compare them against what has already happened, in other words if I create a model starting in 1850 and successfully predict general large scale climate features and event up until now, I have a reasonable probability of predicting some of the large scale events coming. As for pulling out a single anything, that's crap no single data point informs you of anything. Again, the only thing that matters are trends, and we have those, we have a whole bunch of trends.

    And I wish for the love of Jebus you guys could have one of these conversation without blowing all kinds personal FUD, you can stick your presumptions where the sun don't shine. You haven't the foggiest idea what my political opinions are but its clear that if your as good at guessing politics as you are about noticing its getting hotter every year that it explains why you can't seem to make a cogent observation about physical reality. In the flagellating department I believe its better to give than to receive. Guilt is what nice people do to assuage their consciences for being irresponsible or committing unkind acts. I don't practice either, therefore no guilt. I never said the world was ending, not today or a week from Tuesday or in a thousand years. Humanity is extincting about a 1000 species a day now. Most are insects and various invertebrates. Still, in your and my lifetime, we'll see the last of all the big mammals in Africa, most in Asia, and nearly half of the world's rain forest will go away. The impact of the change we're perpetrating on the environment will come back to haunt us because our biology is intimately tied to the global biology... nature of ecosystems. Every human being is a river of biota, moving through us every moment are ten times as many cells without a human genome as with. Plow the ecosphere under and we're committing slow motion suicide. Life has ben here nearly 4 billion years and suffered far worse than us, it will get along fine without us. We're an apex predator, we'll be one of the first things to go. Or, we'll pull our collective heads out of our rear ends and design a global technology that supports human advance without turning the world into a toilet. Why is that

  • Re:[citation needed] (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:23AM (#42646541) Homepage Journal

    the sun has no effect

    Ever wonder why it's so hot in Australia right now? Not only is it summer there, but Earth's orbit is at perihelion [], closest to the sun on January 3. In 20,000 years or so, the northern hemisphere will be summer at perihelion []. That's why the south pole is colder than the north pole; it's farther away from the sun in winter than the north pole is in its winter.

    There are other cycles, such as the wobble of the Earth's axis.

    Of course, there is the 100,000 year problem and other problems. [] "Various explanations for this discrepancy have been proposed, including frequency modulation[12] or various feedbacks (from carbon dioxide, cosmic rays, or from ice sheet dynamics)."

    The carbon feedback is what we're seeing now; the sun's affects only change on huge, slow time scales (except the seasons and axis wobble, of course).

    Everything I know about it is from wikipedia; I'm no expert. You should read the wiki articles, they're very informative.

  • by Randle_Revar ( 229304 ) <> on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:19AM (#42647095) Homepage Journal

    I know it is a joke, but cement manufacture has very high CO2 emissions. It is something like 5%-7% of global human carbon emissions.

  • Re:Koch Brothers? (Score:3, Informative)

    by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:50AM (#42647411)

    Actually, there are.

    Mars Ice Caps have been recorded since Newton's time by many early scientists, and of course current probes and high resolution telescopes.
    Certainly longer than Earths, and better sizing data as we could see the entire extent of the planet and the icecaps, something we on Earth have only been able to do in the last half of the century with satellites.

    And guess what? They are shrinking. No human input. And no volcanic activity, either.

    So there is your control, and it is behaving the same way as the "experiment"

  • by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:16PM (#42647737)

    Here is a graph of global temperatures using skeptic Roy Spencer's satellite reconstruction: []

    Temperatures have gone from -0.25 to 0.25 since 1980. That is 0.5C in 30 years or 0.16C/decade. Even at the current rate the 1.6C added this century will push us over the 2C tipping point that we are trying to avoid. Even at the current rate the added 1.6C would put us right in the middle of the IPCC B1 scenario of 1.1 – 2.9C (with best estimate of 1.8) by the end of the century. - []

  • by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @01:44PM (#42648709) Homepage

    I think you missed the point. The Koch brothers are typically anti-AGW in their funding. So this study that was in part funded by people who disagree with its conclusion should in fact be biased "the other way." Yet it is not. It could be that facts are difficult to find a bias in...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @02:43PM (#42649375)

    The USGS agrees: Human activities [], responsible for a projected 35 billion metric tons (gigatons) of CO2 emissions in 2010, release an amount of CO2 that dwarfs the annual CO2 emissions of all the world’s degassing subaerial and submarine volcanoes.

    Allard, P., 1992, Global emissions of helium-3 by subaerial volcanism: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 19, n. 14, p. 1479-1481.

    Friedlingstein, P., Houghton, R. A., Marland, G., Hackler, J., Boden, T. A., Conway, T. J., Canadell, J. G., Raupach, M. R., Ciais, P., and Le Quéré, C., 2010, Update on CO2 emissions, Nat. Geosci., v. 3, n. 12, p. 811–812, doi:10.1038/ngeo1022.

    Gerlach, T.M., 2011, Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide: Eos Trans. AGU, v. 92, n. 24, p. 201-202.

    Gerlach, T.M., 1991, Present-day CO2 emissions from volcanoes: Eos Trans. AGU, v. 72, n. 23, p. 249 and 254-255.

    Gerlach, T.M., McGee, K.A., Elias, T., Sutton, A.J., and Doukas, M.P., 2002, Carbon dioxide emission rate of Klauea Volcano: Implications for primary magma and the summit reservoir: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 107, n. B9, p. ECV3-1 – ECV3-15, 2189, doi: 10.1029/2001JB000407.

    Marty, B., and I.N. Tolstikhin, 1998, CO2 fluxes from mid-ocean ridges, arcs and plumes: Chemical Geology, v. 145, p. 233-248.

    Sano, Y. and Williams, S.N., 1996, Fluxes of mantle and subducted carbon along convergent plate boundaries: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 23, n. 20, p. 2749-2752.

    Varekamp, J.C.R., Kreulen, R., Poorter, R.P.E., and Van Bergen, M.J., 1992, Carbon sources and arc volcanism, with implications for the carbon cycle: Terra Nova, v. 4, p. 363-373.

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