Antarctic ice formed at CO2 levels much higher than today's

Not going to melt any time soon, says boffin

By Lewis Page

New research has shown that the mighty ice sheet covering the Antarctic froze into being when the world had a much higher level of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere than it does today.

By analysing ancient algae found in deep-sea core samples, Professor Matthew Huber and his colleagues determined that the mile-thick ice which now covers the south polar continent formed around 34 million years ago. At that stage the atmosphere held much more CO2 than it does now, some 600 parts per million (ppm) as opposed to today’s level of 390 ppm.

Read the rest at The Register.

  • Paul Dixon

    Why have we not seen a growing loud scientific revolt against this global warming scam that has been created to make rich people/companies richer and is costing everyone a fortune while not doing one iota of good for the planet. On average 2-4 volcanic eruptions produce more CO2 than all of mankinds feeble activities could, indeed it is only the lack of recent seismic activity in the last century that has allowed natural levels of CO2 in the atmosphere to drop so much. The amounts of money being thrown away on this fallacy would go al ong way to resolving national debt in so many countries worldwide. Also the anti nuclear lobby need to take a chill pill and look at the facts (oops sorry just committed MGW blasphemy there). Why are so many people willing to jump on the doomsday chicken licken bandwagon? are we really that paranoid or has the corporate get rich quick tribe done a great brainwashing job? What amuses/annoys me most is the horrified responses from colleagues (not friends) when I tell them I don’t buy in to this man made global warming thing. The sheer arrogance of these misbegotten fools that believe man could affect the planet to such an affect is galling in the extreme. Man has gotten well above his station and is set for a big fall, after costing us all a vast amount of course. And don’t even get me started on the UN and IPCC… may fate and destiny save us from these scum.

  • But, but…

    Antarctic ice formed at CO2 levels much higher than today’s

    One question: what was the magnitude of solar irradiance at the times when you claim that “Antarctic ice formed at CO2 levels much higher than today’s”?

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD

      Well, let’s see. The sun is getting brighter and hotter, as it burns it’s fuel it burns it faster. Eventually it will nova and become a white dwarf. This has been documented and measured. However dramatic this sounds, it is spread out over billions of years at a rate roughly 10% increase over a billion years. So a billion is one thousand million, and a million is a thousand thousand. So 1 billion years ago the total irradiance was roughly 10% less than it is today. So every year the solar irradinace increases roughly 0.00000001%. So 34 million years ago the solar irradiance would have been roughly 0.34% less than it is today. Which is less than 1% But, but…

      • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD

        Wow. I gave an awesome answer to But, but’s question. And nothing! Not even crickets chirping! But, but must be someone that follows Paul Dixon around to foil his comments. Come on I used math and everything! And I don’t do math! Thank God for calculators.

  • Doke M.

    Here’s what the paper really says.

    First, a bit of background. The issue with CO2 levels 37 million years ago and glaciation of Antarctica is that it first appeared that Antarctica glaciated and then atmospheric CO2 levels fell. This would suggest that the radiative forcing from CO2 was irrelevant in global temperature, and that glaciation could proceed with relatively high CO2 levels. This is somewhat counter-intuitive if you believe CO2 has an effect on global temperature.

    The Pagani et al. paper linked to above shows that by doing a better job of matching the timing of changes in CO2 levels with when ice sheets formed, it is seen that the glaciation coevolved with falling CO2 levels (there is even evidence that CO2 decreased prior to ice sheet formation). In other words, CO2 fell, the planet got colder, and Antarctica iced up. This is another way of saying that global temperature is dependent to a large degree on atmospheric CO2 levels, which is not what you want to say if you are a climate skeptic. But the results do not demonstrate that the Antarctic ice shelves are stable until atmospheric CO2 levels reach 600 ppm, that’s not even a remote inference from the conclusions of the paper.

    So rather than supporting skeptics, the Pagani et al. paper actually demonstrates that there should be concern that CO2 is affecting climate. I apologize if none of you figured that out for yourselves. In your defense, it did involve having to read the paper and do some critical thinking about what it really means, rather than projecting onto it what you want it to say (or in this case, spinning the results in a way that makes no sense scientifically).

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD

      Well, Doke M., You have made perfectly clear which side of this debate you are on, and I commend you for that. There are too many fence sitters out there, thanks for having the guts to pick a side.
      Now, as far as what you are commenting on, I have a question or two for you.
      Is it not shown that indeed the Antarctic ice did form at a CO2 level that is much higher than todays? Why would it matter which direction CO2 levels were moving if indeed the Antarctic ice formed at a level that is much higher than todays? If the CO2 level was an integral factor in the formation of Antarctic ice, would that not mean that with levels much lower than they were then, would we not be a frozen ball of ice orbiting the Sun at this point?
      I believe, from what I know about the diminishing returns of CO2’s heat trapping properties, that CO2 levels had very little, if anything, to do with the formation of Antarctic ice because at 600 ppmv CO2 is trapping essentially the same amount of heat as it would at 700, 800, 900, or more ppmv. And that is due to the range of the wavelengths of radiation tha CO2 will trap. Once the entire range of radiation wavelengths are trapped, it will trap no more no matter how much CO2 is added. If you don’t believe me google it!
      And I know it’s not what you want to hear if you are a climate warmist.

      • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD

        Chirp…………………………………………………………………..chirp?

      • Doke M.

        You have provided two very common skeptic myths. These are: 1. There is a direct equivalence between global mean temperature and absolute level of CO2 in the atmosphere throughout the history of the planet; 2. Above a certain level, adding CO2 to the atmosphere has not effect because the absorbance is “saturated.” These myths have been deconstructed over and over and over on reputable science blogs, in the IPCC reports, in reports from the U.S. National Academy of Science, in the peer-reviewed literature, and in textbooks on climate physics.

        Briefly addressing both, since you have likely read deconstructions of each and rejected them because (and I will guess here) you think all of climate science is a big scam to deprive you of your “liberty,” which to you really is consumerism, and you would be perfectly happy living under a totalitarian regime if you could still drive whatever car you wanted wherever you wanted whenever you wanted, plop yourself down in front of a large television every night to watch homogenized content (or if you’re the “edgy” type watch something wilder, like 30 Rock or Breaking Bad), and left you alone to quietly stroke your weapons collection.

        1. It’s not so much the absolute level as the change in the net forcing. You claim “iIf the CO2 level was an integral factor in the formation of Antarctic ice, would that not mean that with levels much lower than they were then, would we not be a frozen ball of ice orbiting the Sun at this point?” This is ridiculous in the literal sense that I am going to ridicule you. Get a grip. Do you have even the faintest clue what we are talking about here? The PETM was a period where the planet was extremely warm, the poles were tropical. Then, CO2 started falling, the poles glaciated, and for the last 30 millions years since the planet has experienced ice ages. In other words, it’s done precisely what you claim it should do if CO2 levels fall and CO2 is involved in global mean temperature, gotten colder and at points turned very much colder. I’m not holding my breath you will see the fallacy in your statement, or the logic in mine, but really, you’re going to have to do better.

        2. Arguing that CO2 absorption is saturated (it is in the lower atmosphere) implies adding CO2 to the atmosphere has no effect on radiative transfer implies you have no idea how radiative transfer works. The “damage” done by higher CO2 concentrations is at higher altitudes, where the absorption is not saturated. You need to read some real science instead of bottom feeding on articles written by retired german beer chemists. Here is something you can dig into to explain what I am talking about:

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument/

        although I am going to guess you will reject it outright. The difference is though, that Weart is correct.

        For the record, I am not a climate alarmist, but I do actually understand the science, something you clearly do not. Let’s argue policy, since scientifically you’re not worth dealing with, and you might find we agree on the policy implications.

  • Joe

    And I assume we were there to take the CO2 readings? Yes, there is CO2. Will it change dramatically affecting Climate which changes daily? Based upon Roy Spencer and over 1,000 others the answer is NO, not that C02 doesn’t exit. We all exhale it!

  • Rob N. Hood

    Bam! Now that’s a slap down! (Doke not Joe)

  • Rob N. Hood

    Where’s your powerful and common sense rebuttels?? Seriously, you guys can dish it out but CANNOT take it.

  • Rob N. Hood

    What happened to Doke? Was he scared away by Neil?! Oh wait, Neil hasn’t responded… what does that mean? Could it mean, as Neil accuses of others, that Neil cannot respond due to the weakness of his position? Hmmmm, curious indeed.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Where oh where is Neil?

  • Rob N. Hood

    Sure is quiet around here sometimes.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Is there an echo echo echo echo…? Guess so.

  • Rob N. Hood

    But just who was Saul Alinsky, really? Born in 1909, in the ghetto of Chicago’s South Side, he saw the worst of poverty and felt the ethnic prejudices that fester, then blast into violence when people are crowded into tenements and have too little to eat. He came to believe that working people, poor people, put down and stepped upon, had to organize if they were going to clean up the slums, fight the corruption that exploited them, and get a handhold on the first rung of the ladder up and out. And guess what? He wasn’t a Socialist or a Communist. Some Catholic Diosces actually sought him out for advice and assistance.

    And yes, he wrote two books with the word Radical in the title. Dick Armey actually has been, or was, passing out the book Rules for Radicals to people of the so-called Tea Party. Maybe even Dan has read it. I wouldn’t be surprised. The Right loves boogeymen, and Mr. Alinsky is not around to defend himself, so he’s the perfect, and current, Right-wing scape-goat. Obama was around 11 years old when he died…

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