Sunday, December 01, 2013

Salby and the Bunny

In the latest rendition of Salby Tunes Eli wandered over to the Scottish Sceptic's summary of Murry Salby's talk in Edinburgh.  The Scep did a reasonable job of summarizing the talk, which appears of a piece with Salby's Hamburg seminar.  That was well shredded by the Weasel in penance for his sins.  Still, there does appear to be something new, Salby is now claiming that the increase in CO2 mixing ratio is due to thermal decomposition of soils.

Eli was feeling obscure at the time so the Bunny inquired

Now Eli is but an ‘umble Rabett, innocent as the bunnies of the field, a little bunny foo foo as it were, (fair warning) and it occurs to him that there is a significant indicator of CO2 emission by combustion and not warming, contained in the Keeling curve but not much remarked upon and certainly not mentioned by the Good Dr. Salby, Ph.D. Perhaps the Scottish Skeptic would like to play? Here is a giant hint, what happens during combustion.
which confused everyone including Wotts.who was also at play, but Eli offered other hints "Well, here is another giant hint, which Keeling?

The answer of course is Ralph Keeling who took over the family business, adding a new line in the last quarter century of oxygen molecule concentrations.  Eli's argument is really simple.  If combustion is the reason for increase in CO2 mixing ratio then the concentration of oxygen should decrease.  If Salby is right, not so much.

So let us go to the tape.

The loss roughly matches the amount of fossil fuels that have be burned when one takes into account the amount of water vapor produced by combustion from hydrogen in the fuel.  The seasonal variation reflects the growth and decay of plants.  The differences can be related to fluxes into and out of the land and oceans.

Salby loses.

Unfortunately so do we all.


Anonymous said...

When it comes to Murray Salby my brain goes into TL;DNR mode.

However, in addition to the oxygen issue that Eli raises I'm wondering if Salby ever explains where the CO2 produced from the combustion of fossil fuels goes. Is there a particular reason why this carbon dioxide is not a part of the carbon cycle?

Bernard J.

Wotts Up With That Blog said...

Oh dear, everyone's starting to notice that I'm easily confused. I'd thought I was hiding that well :-)

thefordprefect said...

I had a look at O2 some time ago.
The yearly cycle I would suggest is down to NH darkness and light proportions causing a reversal of plant photosynthesis (O2 output)to respiration (CO2 output). This is the only process I could think of that could match the rapid fluctuations.
Plant growth and decay - decay around the arctic would be very slow and wouldn't the larges variation be round the temperate regions? (peak to peak variation in CO2 level is greatest around the arctic and only shows a small variation (antiphase) in Antarctica.

Dissolving in the sea would not affect O2 (CO2 in when cold CO2 out when hot)

Mal Adapted said...

Scripps is resorting to crowdsourcing to keep the Keelings' work going:

Budget crunch hits Keeling’s curves

"For years, [Ralph Keeling] has struggled to cobble together enough cash to support the CO2 programme and an atmospheric-oxygen record that he pioneered in 1989. Bouncing between grant programmes designed to fund short-term projects, not long-term monitoring, he has cut staff and streamlined operations to keep the records going.

But now, with his funds running dry, he wonders about the future. 'Things have never been this dire before,' he says."

Anti-Science Republicans strike again. Hey, why collect more data if you're ignoring what's already been collected?

Anonymous said...

Rabett Run Extra: "Salby is wrong".

Apparently Eli just woke up from a long rabbet-nap.

Russell Seitz said...

Somebunnies should coauthor a paper examinng the comsequences of what may be termed "catalyst run-off", or " platinum eutrophication"

Once upon a time, car and truck engines spewed lead from their exhaust pipes, but nowadays , the lead free exhaust roars through a series of highly effective and un-naturally efficient oxidation catalysts based on clusters of a few atoms of the platiunum group metals.

Despite the best efforts of materials science, the pricey catalysts slowly volatilize, spiking the landscape with ribbons of right of way over which the wind blows, whereupon catalysis happens, 24-7 shifting the equilibrium of local atmospheric chemistry that needs must be quantified by industrious bunnies before they can be ignored.

William Connolley said...

> shredded by the Weasel in penance for his sins.

See? I did my penance in advance :-)

SS has become less interesting, or rather its become more obvious that he wasn't interesting all along. He's good at staying polite, and putting words down, but it ends there.

Wotts Up With That Blog said...

William, yes well put. I would say that although he manages to remain polite, he does have the remarkable ability of doing so while still saying some quite objectionable things.

John Mashey said...

But give SS credit: he at least wrote down Salby's soil idea, which can be added to the other ideas MLS hadn't written down.
But having asked him multiple times about Salby's false claim of present affiliation, and never gotten an answer, nothing in the rest of the discussions was a surprise.

Brian said...

Russel - this nonscientist thinks this may be somewhat responsive, that bio-available nitrogen is a side-effect of catalysis. Friend of mine, Stu Weiss, is the go-to guy on this stuff. The nitrogen is driving major ecological changes in the SF Bay Area and (a few decades afterwards) a regulatory response. I doubt we're the only area where that's happening.

Russell Seitz said...


it really is a semi-intersting topic, becuase while it's relatiely cold on the outside of a glowing catalytic converter bich, the sun does shine, and it only takes a few eV to kick a four atom cluster into a hot and active state. As you can literally smell the NOx when a vehicle with a post-modrn comnverter goes by, some doubtless finds it s way into the water table from the boundry layer.

As to the putative impact on carbon species , somebody has to take its measure .

Andrew said...

Brian -

An interesting thought strikes me from this.

We already know that the flux of man-made fixed nitrogen into the ecosphere exceeds natural fixation by a large margin. You have to wonder to what extent this is responsible for the 'greening' which has been reported and currently attributed to extra CO2.

(To which the answer is, I suspect, read the literature.. but I'm not a robot.)

EliRabett said...

Russell, how many orders of magnitude do you need. There is a hell of a lot less platinum and rhodium blown out of catalytic converters than lead from the TEL additive in gasoline.

If nothing else, look at the relative melting points 1768 C for platinum, 1963 for rhodium and 327C for lead. BTW if you can smell the NOx from a cat converter, somebunny has poisoned it. That is what the CC stops.

Russell Seitz said...

The lead in gasoline was deliberately rendered volatile, by the addition of ethyl bromide , and you understate the melting point of rhodium.

What's interesting is that the catalyst provides an exotic level of atomic surface dispersion on the ceramic ( typically an gamma alumna washcoat on cordierite) catalyst carrier in order to create surface area ratios on the order of an acre per ounce- multiply that by a traffic jam and you are to some extent painting the landscape with PGM's in their most active possible form.

At which point I want to hand the case over to physical chemists for examination , as the atomic clusters in question- they brag about four atoms as the center of the population spread, with ideally one rhodium atom per cluster, are as noble as metal nanoclusters get.

Think of it as a human K-T iridium layer in the making, albeit iridium is easier to oxidize.

Jonathan Gilligan said...

I don't get this argument. If Salby is saying that the rise in CO2 is caused by microbial decomposition of organic matter in the soil, wouldn't that consume just as much O2 as burning fossil fuels.

So I don't see the Ralph Keeling curve as relevant, unless I'm totally misunderstanding Salby's assertions as explained by the Scot.

Wouldn't the 14C Seuss effect be more to the point?

Jonathan Gilligan said...

Oops. That should be Suess effect, not Seuss.

EliRabett said...

JG, what would cause the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere to decrease if the soil decomposed? There is no free oxygen in the soil, and decomposition is basically further oxidation of the humus to form CO2

If the excess CO2 lead to increased NPP (more green stuff), that would increase photosynthesis and increase O2 in the atmosphere.

If the CO2 is from the fizzy coke effect, it would also fizz O2 out of the ocean (that does happen to an extent but not enough to compensate for conbustion) increasing the amount of O2.

John Mashey said...

Since Salby is still in play, I offer Salby, the PSI "Slayers" and a Monckton surprise, no very welcome.

Anonymous said...

This Anonybunnie spent the summer of '97, as a NASA-funded student and researcher, at Biosphere II.

In what was an entirely unintended experiment, borne from poor 'presearch,' the Biospherians found out *exactly* the answer to your question..

"What would cause the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere to decrease if the soil decomposed?"

You can ref: Severinghaus and Broecker for the minutiae, but, soil decomposition decreases atmospheric O2 in a (relatively( closed system.

EliRabett said...

With very thin soil