Posted by: Grant | October 11, 2013

Carbon Dioxide – Just Natural Variation?

We can see from the Vostok Ice Core data that as the oceans warm and cool they dissolve or release carbon dioxide.

Vostok_Petit_data2  – Ignore the red graph – The temperature line is a proxy and slightly problematic, but the effect is plain to see – as the oceans warm up they out-gas carbon dioxide and when they cool down they dissolve carbon dioxide.

The last natural global event was called “The Little Ice Age”, a cooling period that ended around 1820. Since then the Earth has warmed. On a longer time scale the earth has warmed since the last big ice age about 10,000 years ago. lia-pic3

This natural warming will cause carbon dioxide gas to be released from the oceans.

This raises the big question, how much of the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide is due to this normal, natural, effect and how much due to fossil fuels?

This interesting scientific discussion shows that we do not know.

Having said that, however, we have added 337 gigatonnes to the aprox. 3000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide in the air, a very significant amount.

Carbon Dioxide And The Ocean: Temperature Is Driving CO2, And Not Vice Versa
By P Gosselin on 8. Oktober 2013
Carbon Dioxide and the Ocean
By Ed Caryl

” …The point of all this is that temperature is driving CO2, not the other way around.

We have good measurements of atmospheric CO2 only since 1958. Before that time our measurements were at the mercy of whatever ice does to captured CO2. We have good global measurements of temperature only from 1979, the beginning of the satellite era. This means that all of our measurement periods are shorter than the natural cycles. We have hints only from surface and ship measurements that go back 120 years, that some of the natural cycles are ~60 years long. We are presently at a convergence and peak of several of those natural cycles. There are suggestions that we are past the peak of some longer solar cycles. I use the words “hints” and “suggestions” because of the large errors, lack of global coverage, and wishful thinking adjustments to these measurements. There are two possibilities. If CO2 drives temperature, then temperatures should continue to climb. If it doesn’t, then temperatures will fall, then, shortly, CO2 will fall also. Nature is in the process of demonstrating which is which. We can just watch.”



  1. As you may have noticed, I have reacted on the article by Ed Caryl…

    If you look at the Vostok ice core CO2/temperature ratio, that is about 8 ppmv/°C between glacial and interglacial periods. The change in CO2 between the warm MWP and the cold LIA (~0.8°C) is about 6 ppmv, according to the Law Dome ice core (resolution ~20 years).

    Based in these figures, the increase in CO2 from the temperature increase is maximum 8 ppmv. The rest of the 100+ ppmv (70+ ppmv since 1960) is from the human emissions, which are twice what we see as increase in the atmosphere. See also the article of F. Singer at:

  2. Thankyou for you input Ferdinand. It is surprising to see the change is only ~0.8°C between MWP and the cold LIA. I would have thought it was higher. It is wonderful to see the biosphere thriving so well with the big increase in CO2 though isn’t it? Lots more “CO2 Flux”.

  3. Indeed, it is proven that the earth is greening, thanks to the extra CO2. Especially the deserts, as with more CO2, less stomata mounds are needed and that gives less evaporation and thus a better water management of the plants. That is one of the positive outcomes of more CO2, seldom mentioned in the media.

    If there are negative consequences from any moderate temperature increase caused by the extra CO2 remains to be seen. I don’t think so and I (and agriculture and nature) would like to have some more Mediterranean climate in my cold and wet country…

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