Max Planck Institute: It’s Back To The Drawing Board For Climate Modellers. Alarmist Scenarios Unrealistic

The Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany has just put out a press release in English on a new study on the role of terrestrial ecosystems in the global carbon cycle: A new balance for the global carbon balance. If anything, the report shows there remains lots of uncertainty in the science that many like to call “settled”.

In climate science the only certainty is uncertainty.

Well worth reading. Some of the main points, according to the authors:

1. In most ecosystems, the photosynthesis rate at which plants fix carbon dioxide from the atmosphere changes relatively little as the temperature varies.
2. The respiration of the ecosystems, when flora and fauna release carbon dioxide again, also increases to a lesser extent than has recently often been assumed when the temperature rises.
3. Moreover, this temperature dependence is the same all over the world – even in ecosystems as different as the tropical savannah and the Finnish needleleaf forest.
4. The climate is quite temperamental: countless factors are involved and many feedback mechanisms enhance effects such as the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. This makes it difficult to make predictions, especially as many processes in the Earth system are still not completely understood.
5. Results suggest that the availability of water, in particular, plays a decisive role for the carbon cycle in ecosystems. It is often more important than temperature.
6. Particularly alarmist scenarios for the feedback between global warming and ecosystem respiration thus prove to be unrealistic.”
7. The factor which determines the acceleration of the respiration thus obviously does not depend on the local temperature conditions and the specific characteristics of an ecosystem. “We were very surprised that different ecosystems react relatively uniformly to temperature variations.”
8. “It is still not possible to predict whether this attenuates the positive feedback between carbon dioxide concentration and temperature,” says Markus Reichstein. “The study shows very clearly that we do not yet have a good understanding of the global material cycles and their importance for long-term developments.”
9. “We were surprised to find that the primary production in the tropics is not so strongly dependent on the amount of rain,” says Markus Reichstein. “Here, too, we therefore need to critically scrutinize the forecasts of some climate models which predict the Amazon will die as the world gets drier.”

UPDATE: There’s also some highly interesting background information here on Fluxnet.

Explore posts in the same categories: CO2 and GHG

10 Comments on “Max Planck Institute: It’s Back To The Drawing Board For Climate Modellers. Alarmist Scenarios Unrealistic”

  1. GregO Says:

    Excellent post and I can’t help but wonder if after Climategate and the debacle at Copenhagen there was an organized counterattack from CAWG and now we are seeing the beginning of what could be called a strategic retreat.

    Reply: Unlike the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (alarmists Schellnhuber & Rahmstorf), the Max Planck Institute is quite professional and put out world class scientific reports. Of course they’ll throw in their endorsements of the AGW theory here anf there to keep interest groups off their backs, but I can’t say they’re doing anything differently than before. – P Gosselin

  2. Max Planck Institute: It's Back To The Drawing Board For Climate ……

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  3. Brian H Says:

    Here’s my latest personal brilliant insight:

    All IR intercepted by CO2 in the atmosphere is IR which otherwise would have reached the surface. The CO2 molecules heat up, and re-radiate. Most of that goes back outwards, into space.

    Hence, the CO2 acts as a shield, shadowing the surface and hence has a net COOLING effect.


    • Brian H Says:

      Just to clarify one point, the re-radiation cools the CO2 molecule back down to where it was before, so there is no net warming of the atmosphere by the IR, except for that brief interval between absorption and re-radiation. Meanwhile, the surface has been deprived of that energy completely, and most of it never gets there.

  4. Ed Caryl Says:

    The reradiation is in all directions, up, down, and sideways, and is at a different wavelength. What does that do?

    • Brian H Says:

      Irrelevant. If the CO2 were absent, more IR would reach the surface, increasing heat and temperature. So the net effect of any GHG must ALWAYS be cooling.

      • Ed Caryl Says:

        Does that apply to Venus?

      • Brian H Says:

        Yes. Little or no solar radiation reaches the surface there, which is a fundamental requirement for GHW. Venus’ day and night temperatures differ by about 1°C, despite having a rotation 116x slower than ours.

        There is evidently an internal heat source on Venus, as instruments indicate it radiates about 20% more energy than falls on it from the sun.

  5. azizk Says:

    Nice post :)

  6. Clifford Says:

    The sun and the earth have different emission spectra.

    So, while we do get some IR energy from the sun, the primary sun spectrum is between 0.2μm and 3μm wavelength.

    Since Earth is cooler than the sun, it generates IR emissions in the range of about 3μm and about 50μm.

    The idea of the greenhouse gas is that the light comes into earth at a wavelength unaffected by CO2. If it is reflected back to space, that is also unaffected by CO2 (the reflective snow concept). However, if the light is absorbed and generates heat, then it is re-emitted in the IR frequency that is potentially affected by CO2.

    As mentioned above, the CO2 will tend to scatter the IR radiation in all directions including back towards earth, rather than allow it to radiate back into space.

    However, the climate control system on Earth is very complex with multiple feedback mechanisms both organic and inorganic. The absolute effect of the atmospheric CO2 is still up for debate.

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