Home Climate Analysis

There is a  remarkable one man blog which set out to understand the earth’s climate 2 years ago. The author is Kevan Hashemi  who is a lecturer at Brandeis University and has worked on the Atlas experiment at CERN.  see: https://homeclimateanalysis.blogspot.com/  He seems to have more or less followed the same path as me to understand the greenhouse effect from basic physics  and determine by just how much increasing CO2 will change the earth’s temperature. His value of 1.5C warming for a doubling of CO2 levels agrees with mine. He also produced a nice plot of the 350 year HADCET temperature  data which I have updated to 2021. This demonstrated that climate change has had a rather small effect on UK temperatures. Of course the slight rise since ~1990 looks a little worse if you plot “anomalies”.

Average temperatures for HadCET over 365 years.

Here is  his decadal trend analysis for the full HadCET. Basically he takes a rolling ten year gradient. There is little evidence of any rapid warming since 1850.

Decadal trends.

However it is his study of the carbon cycle that is particularly interesting because he has correctly explained the CO2 level variations over recent glacial cycles.

The last post on the site summarises his findings which seriously irked some mainstream climate scientists. He replied gallantly  but eventually fell silent and this was his last post. Yet I have not seen any carbon cycle model that is able to describe  the CO2 response to Ice Age cycles as well as his does.

His model was based on a fixed C14 proportion  dispersed in the atmosphere and the deep ocean.

Each year, cosmic rays create 8 kg of carbon-14 in the upper atmosphere. If carbon-14 were a stable atom, all carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere would be carbon-14. But carbon-14 is not stable. One in eight thousand carbon-14 atoms decays each year. The rate at which the Earth’s inventory of carbon-14 decays must be equal to the rate at which it is created. There must be 64,000 kg of carbon-14 on Earth.

The Earth’s atmosphere contains 800 Pg of carbon (1 Pg = 1 Petagram = 1012 kg) bound up in gaseous CO2. Therefore the oceans contain 80,000 Pg.

His argument is that the exchange of CO2 with the deep ocean remains in balance as more CO2 is added to the atmosphere. So to double the CO2 in the atmosphere you need to also double the CO2 contained in the deep oceans. This will take thousands of years of anthropogenic emissions instead of say 100 years. I suspect one possible  problem with his logic is that we are constantly adding CO2 to the atmosphere from fossil fuels which are devoid of  C14 because they have been buried for millions of years. So the C14 accounting  begins to unwind as more of our annual emissions dilute the atmospheric C14 content.

The global carbon cycle is immensely complicated because it depends on life, plate tectonics  and volcanism, all working on different timescales. Yet each year ~50% of our annual carbon emissions are absorbed by rapid oceans/biosphere processes and this ratio is unchanged in 50 years.

AR4 plot: The fraction of Anthropogenic CO2 retained in the atmosphere is unchanged in over 50 years, despite increasing emissions.

Today the global net flux of fossil fuel CO2 into the ocean is ~ 2Gtons C per year, amid exchange fluxes of 90 Gtons/year. This implies that if we simply kept emissions stable then the oceans would fairly soon also stabilise CO2 levels in the atmosphere. However there is a complication – the so called buffering or Revelle factor.

“The Revelle factor (buffer factor) is the ratio of instantaneous change in carbon dioxide (CO2) to the change in total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), and is a measure of the resistance to atmospheric CO2 being absorbed by the ocean surface layer.”

The Revelle effect describes how only a small fraction of pCO2 is present in ocean water when much larger amounts are added to the atmosphere. Depending on the alkalinity of the water, DIC is either present as CO3, HCO3, or CO2. When the pH is high (basic) the Revelle factor is greatest, causing much of the DIC to exist as HCO3 or CO3, and not CO2. So, the greater the buffering effect (low Revelle Factor) the more DIC occurs as CO3 or HCO3, effectively lowering the pCO2 levels in both the atmosphere and ocean.

This statement has taken on mythical proportions and is embedded in carbon cycle models like the BERN model. It implies there is a long tail on carbon levels in the atmosphere

My knowledge of chemistry is pretty minimal but I find it a far more descriptive than quantitive science.     Kevan argues that :

“When a gas and liquid are at equilibrium, there is as much gas entering the liquid per unit time as there is leaving it. Because gaseous CO2 has only one species, its probability of absorption into the ocean does not vary with its concentration. ”

This must be true. It is just a question of timescales. David Archer’s book is mostly descriptive with no firm predictions so I suspect we don’t really know how fast the Earth recovers from a sudden release of CO2. The BERN model is basically a parameterised guess.

The fact that 50% of CO2 emissions have been  absorbed by the oceans for the last 70 years needs to be explained first.

The carbon cycle mixes  physics, chemistry, biology  and geology all up into one complex imbroglio. My gut feeling is that stabilising our carbon emissions must also  stabilise CO2 levels within a decade. Of course I could be wrong as could everyone else.

Posted in Climate Change, climate science | Tagged | 29 Comments

Global Temperature for September 2021 is 0.81C

The average temperature was 0.81 C in September. This was up a little from August (0.76C). However 2021 is turning out to cooler than recent years with an average annual temperature with 3 months remaining of 0.69C. This makes it on track to be the coolest year since 2014.

Annual average temperatures (2021 first 9 months)

The monthly data show the effects of the 2021 La Nina.

Monthly average temperatures updated to September 2021

This strong La Nina is evident in the latest SST data.

Over land areas cold spots in Siberia, Greenland and Alaska/Kamchatka are evident.

With just 3 months to go and a continuing la Nina,  it looks almost certain that 2021 will either be the coldest or the next coldest of the last 7 years.

You can download the monthly and annual data here and these are updated regularly.

Posted in AGW | Tagged | 6 Comments

COVID Adventures

On 30th August I tested positive for COVID. I had a runny nose plus slight cough for a couple of days and generally felt tired. My wife Anna had already experienced similar symptoms 10 days earlier (hence our box of antigen tests) but had always tested negative. As a result we booked our NHS PCR tests the next day (Monday) and sure enough mine came back positive on Tuesday, but hers not. Track and Trace contacted me and I agreed to self isolate for 7 days (10 days since first symptoms appeared). This was not such a big deal as I have a garden and perhaps illogically my wife was free to do the shopping. By day 5 though I felt fine and tested negative on a consequent Antigen test. I am sure the real reason I had mild symptoms is because I had been already double vaccinated (AstraZeneca) at the end of April.

Dreaded positive Antigen Test

Before all this we had already booked Ryanair flights back to Italy on 10 Sep initially for a 2 week stay, but with the idea to stay an extra week because then we would be able to fly to Hong Kong and visit my son and family who we haven’t seen for nearly two years. This is because Italy is a medium risk country whereas UK is a high risk country. Only Hong Kong residents can fly from high risk countries, whereas anyone can enter from medium risk countries subject to restrictions and at least a 22 stay in that country. To travel to Italy we first took a Boots antigen test the day before and luckily these came back negative so we were good to fly.

Italy is my favourite country partly because I lived there for 22 years. The food is the best in the world and the weather is normally perfect. So spending 3 weeks in Liguria is a pleasure. The only doubt was how to get from there to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific no longer fly direct from Milan so the only realistic solution was Lufthansa via Frankfurt, because a transfer via a high risk country (e.g. London) invalidates your entry to Hong Kong!

Sunday 3/10: Milan Malpensa – Frankfurt delayed 1 hour leaving 20 mins to meet the connection to Hong Kong. Brexit forced us to go through manual passport control first as we are leaving the EU. Then a 1 km run to get to the last gate in the airport. Huge relief that all PCR tests, vaccination certificates, Hong Kong Health declaration were in order. As we eventually board there are still a couple of people who got caught not having made the HK health declaration and are frantically entering it on their phones. Hopefully they too all made it on board.

Monday: We finally arrive in Hong Kong at 3.30pm . Then we are directed to a huge holding area for incoming persons where all the documents are again rechecked and we are each given a number. We are then directed into a large terminal area for yet another full PCR test, where an army of protective suited medical staff in multiple cubicles are lined up to swab each of us and then hand us a ticket confirming our test ID to hang round our necks. More long walks to yet another terminal area with hundreds of desks spaced one metre apart each with a code matching our test IDs. We then wait another 3 hours for the negative results to arrive and we are each given new freedom sheets so that we can finally leave. After double checks and finally passport checks  we are then able to pass through to a baggage collection area. Then eventually we get into another queuing system based on quarantine hotel name. Only a 20 minute wait till we finally get outside to get on a bus with one passenger on each 2 seat bench – ( 1 meter rule). The driver and assistant are dressed in full bio hazard suits. After traffic delays from an accident we finally arrive at our hotel 6 hours after landing in Hong Kong. We reach our fairly spacious hotel room where we must now spend the next 2 weeks.

Day 6 Saturday: We now have a kind of routine in place to keep sane. After breakfast spend 30 mins on a treadmill we managed to rent, then read newspapers on-line and afterwards the books we brought with us. Then coffee at 11am and lunch arrives at 1:30 pm. In the afternoon more exercise/stretching, dinner arrives around  8pm – now we can have some wine & beer ! Our food is good and all delivered in disposable cartons and left outside the room. It seems like a waste as we then throw it all away afterwards, but the objective is to avoid any possible contamination from our room escaping. We wait a couple of  minutes to retrieve meals  because we must avoid seeing anyone, and especially never leave the room itself. If you are caught more than ~1 metre from the door you risk being fined and taken into  government quarantine. That certainly would not be pleasant.

Yesterday we had PCR tests by the Hong Kong Health Authority in the entrance to our room. It was all very efficient. We put a chair and a bin in the entrance. They rang the bell dressed in protective gear, checked our passport numbers, swabbed us, and then disposed of their gloves in our bin. Again the logic is to keep any contamination always inside our room.  We now have only just over 1 week to go and 2 more PCR tests before we are free to leave !

Hong Kong averages 4 new cases per day in a population of 7.5 million. That is 0.5 cases per 100,000 (1 in 28000 persons per week), whereas the UK records ~60 cases per 100,000. The latest ONS figures show 1 in 70 persons testing positive in the UK.

Update 18th Oct : We are out of quarantine !


Posted in Covid-19, Health | Tagged | 4 Comments