Taxpayer funded researcher: Climate change will change the climate for a long time


University of Hawaii warmist Richard Zeebe nurses off the taxpayer via the National Science Foundation.

The media release is below.


Carbon emissions to impact climate beyond the day after tomorrow

Honolulu, HI – Future warming from fossil fuel burning could be more intense and longer-lasting than previously thought. This prediction emerges from a new study by Richard Zeebe at the University of Hawai’i who includes insights from episodes of climate change in the geologic past to inform projections of man-made future climate change. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Humans keep adding large amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, among them carbon dioxide (CO2), the most important man-made greenhouse gas. Over the past 250 years, human activities such as fossil fuel burning have raised the atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than 40% over its preindustrial level of 280 ppm (parts per million). In May 2013, the CO2 concentration in Earth’s atmosphere surpassed a milestone of 400 ppm for the first time in human history, a level that many scientists consider dangerous territory in terms of its impact on Earth’s climate.

A global cooling calamity as depicted in the movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ though, is very unlikely to be the result of climate change. The globe is likely to become warmer in the near future, and probably a lot warmer in the distant future. Now Zeebe, Professor of Oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, has examined mankind’s long-term legacy of fossil fuel burning.

The study suggests that amplified and prolonged warming due to unabated fossil fuel burning raises the probability that large ice sheets such as the Greenland ice sheet will melt, leading to significant sea level rise.

“When we talk about climate sensitivity, we’re referring to how much the planet’s global surface temperature rises for a given amount of CO2 in the atmosphere,” Zeebe said. A standard value for present-day climate sensitivity is about 3°C per doubling of atmospheric CO2. But according to Zeebe, climate sensitivity could change over time. Zeebe uses past climate episodes as analogs for the future, which suggest that so-called slow climate ‘feedbacks’ can boost climate sensitivity and amplify warming.

An example of a feedback is the familiar audio feedback experienced when a microphone interacts with a speaker. If the audio output from the speaker is received again by the microphone, the initial audio signal is strongly amplified in a positive feedback loop.

A variety of feedbacks also operate in Earth’s climate system. For example, a positive feedback loop exists between temperature, snow cover, and absorption of sunlight. When snow melts in response to warming, more sunlight can be absorbed at Earth’s surface because most surfaces have a lower reflectivity than snow. In turn, the additional absorption of sunlight leads to further warming, which leads to more snow melt, and so forth.

Previous studies have usually only included fast climate feedbacks (snow cover, clouds, etc.). Using information from pre-historic climate archives, Zeebe calculated how slow climate feedbacks (land ice, vegetation, etc.) and climate sensitivity may evolve over time. Armed with these tools, Zeebe was able to make new predictions about long-term future climate change.

“The calculations showed that man-made climate change could be more severe and take even longer than we thought before” says Zeebe. Although we will not see immediate effects by tomorrow — some of the slow processes will only respond over centuries to millennia — the consequences for long-term ice melt and sea level rise could be substantial. “Politicians may think in four-year terms but we as scientists can and should think in much longer terms. We need to put the impact that humans have on this planet into a historic and geologic context.”

“By continuing to put these huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we’re gambling with climate and the outcome is still uncertain,” Zeebe said. “The legacy of our fossil fuel burning today is a hangover that could last for tens of thousands of years, if not hundreds of thousands of years to come.”


8 thoughts on “Taxpayer funded researcher: Climate change will change the climate for a long time”

  1. What was this written for? Seems awfully simplistic. He does have the “we’re doomed” skeer pretty well ginned up. Another guy who can stop the climate from changing. “Climate hangover” What a way with words.

  2. Yes, the effects are similiar to those on eukaryotic algae and vascular plants, except the blue-green ones can survive in a wider range of CO2 concentrations. They can grow at very high concentrations of CO2 (some can tolerate 100%), and they can grow in a rich medium without any CO2 at all. For many of them, photosynthesis is optional.

    They are called blue-green (not just green) for a reason. They also do nitrogen fixation. They store it the form of cyanophycin, wich is kinda blue (or more properly, cyan):

  3. If we globally caved in and said to the politicians CAGW is indeed happening and that we shall all curb our car 3 days a week, reduce energy consumption by limiting TV to two hours a day, wash our clothes in the local creek, reduce factory output 50%, print a lot of books, stop suburban sprawl (you all know what I getting at) what will our tax supported climate “scientists” have to do. They have won the consensus and are now superfluous and out of work. Government has corralled creative capitalism and the sloths in our society now are the bosses. Agenda 21.

  4. Along with the effects of changes in atmospheric CO2 on plants, is there an effect on blue-green algae?

  5. Howdy Gene
    Given the non-linear coupled near-chaos nature of weather and climate, CO2 probably plays a role but it’s probably near negligible. The simple physics of CO2 say that more of it should result in warming — but very slight warming and on a decreasing rate because of its physics.

  6. Or a non-player. There has never been an experiment done linking CO2 with warming. The “greenhouse effect” is a badly named and badly constructed model.

    If CO2 does have any effect on climate (we don’t know, nobody has measured it), it is most likely through algae and plants (which, we know, are small players). But this knowledge is only sufficient to predict there will be some detectable change following the increase in plant mass. We don’t know what kind of change it will be — more heat or less heat; more moisture or less moisture. All we can say for sure is that plants are more sensitive to CO2 than we are, and there is more of them today than 40 years ago.

  7. “Humans keep adding large amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, among them carbon dioxide (CO2), the most important man-made greenhouse gas.” Well, that depends on your definition of “large” amounts. Increasing CO2 by around 40% is only partly due to humans — in fact probably only a small part due to humans — and the resulting level is still very small.
    It may be true that CO2 is the most important “man-made greenhouse gas”, but CO2 is among the least important greenhouse components in the atmosphere.
    I had a thought today that I don’t know how to answer. Perhaps our host knows. If CO2 has increased by 120ppm, what has decreased? It’s a relative concentration, after all, so what atmospheric elements are now found in lower concentrations than they were? And if they are greenhouse components, are they more or less powerful than CO2?
    And just for spite: the Medieval Warm Period was apparently measurably warmer, or likely was, than the current warming. The Roman Optimum was also. If those two periods were warmer than now, but CO2 was lower (assuming that this is really the first time in human history we’ve hit 400), then apparently CO2 is a small player in warmth or climate — which is what many scientists have said all along.

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