Aquatic ‘dead zones’ contributing to climate change

Aquatic ‘dead zones’ contributing to climate change“. Anthony Watts passes on an “alarming missive.” To Anthony, this is a chance to divert attention to other natural sources of greenhouse gases. Stop picking on poor little CO2!

Dead zones. Maybe the greenhouse gas thing is all because of N2O! 2010-03-13 update: This image, used by Anthony in his post, is for a river not the ocean (credit: Hank Roberts).

12 thoughts on “Aquatic ‘dead zones’ contributing to climate change

  1. That’s an illustration of river water-related ‘dead zones’ — eutrophication-related, caused by overfertilization with, among much else, fertilizer nitrogen in runoff from agriculture.

    Those are very different from the upwelling of deoxygenated water, which is appening in the North Pacific.

  2. Ben, if I can offer a suggestion, when Watts links to a press release, a good way to see where the spin is going is to find the article. Sometimes the search is made more difficult by the fact that press releases or articles based on press releases rarely include a link or even enough information (article title, volume or issue number) to find the article. Fortunately, the PR gave the journal and issue date; here’s the abstract:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/327/5971/1339

    Unfortunately, I am unable to access the article right now, but it seems that the authors conclude that changes in N2O paralleled changes in CO2, but because of eutrophication, warming and acidification, N2O increases may be decoupled from CO2 increases and may become a more serious player in greenhouse warming. I’ll try to write more when I can access the article.

    This is a good germ of a site, but keeping up can be overwhelming; I think a lot of regular readers of RC, OM, Delt, etc. can contribute to the debunking. Maybe you can have a thread available for reader suggestions for how to get some good contributions.

    It would be nice, for example, for each thread to contain links to articles around the web analyzing Watts’ stuff. Readers can contribute links and these could be included as updates in the main text. This way, when a someone comes across an argument from WUWT, a quick stop here could provide some good counterarguments.

    As noted in some comments in OM, among other places, there is a demand for a site like this, and I would like to see it work.

    • Thanks “deech”. I do try to follow through to the original article and see where Anthony has got it wrong (either intentionally or through ignorance). But it’s certainly daunting trying to keep up! I think I’m going to rely on commenters to catch the ones that I don’t and I’ll try to incorporate their insights into the original post. I intend to incorporate your NO2 notes shortly.

      WordPress has an automatic “related links” feature, but it seems pretty limited. I’ll give the “tips page” idea a try too…

  3. Why decoupled? Because excess carbon and nitrogen both are accumulating. For both, the biogeochemical cycling has handled some of what humans have been rushing into circulation at a very high rate of change, but both natural cycling processes are overwhelmed and accumulating excess.

    Look back and you can find the same thing with, say, lead and mercury:
    Google Scholar science about the problem.

    But if you use plain Google instead of Scholar, you find primarily the denial at work.

  4. This type of WUWT post is one I find particularly confusing: he points to evidence of a climate feedback, or something else which strengthens the theory of AGW and the case for immediate action, but he presents it as if it cast doubt on AGW. I am honestly unsure if he is cleverly misrepresenting the source or just plain stupid. Or both.

    Outstanding site, deserves massive traffic.

  5. This is one post that generated a huge amount of anti-science tirade from the fans of the site. I listed some of the comments on my blog. They illustrate the ignorance and lack of wit of most visitors to Anthony’s site.

    Given the site pretends to promote science, why does it attract and pander to so many people who are anti-science? Says something about the site itself, perhaps.

    • There’s a great book by a couple of experimental psychologists called “Mistakes were made (but not by me)” all about cognitive dissonance and self-justification. They talk about a cascade effect, in which the first step in self-justification makes the next easier, and makes the truth, which includes the distance you’ve moved away from it, harder to confront.

      On my site I talk about a statement Watts made in 2006, when he was firmly convinced the sun was the cause of global warming: “Chances are, we’ll see another dramatic dip in sunspots by 2015 through 2022 and global cooling will set in again as it did in the 1970’s.” He later elaborated: “Now if I’m wrong, and I see compelling and undisputable evidence (not models or projections) that man made CO2 is the culprit and nothing else, I’ll be happy to stand up in the middle of city plaza and announce “I was wrong”. I expect I’ll know the answer by about January to March 2018, when its expected that solar cycle 24 will be over, and temperatures on earth are postulated to drop.”

      So back in 2006, we have a testable prediction (sunspots and temperatures will drop together). Which of course they did not (266 days without sunspots in 2009; quietest year since 1914). By that time, of course, he was completely invested in denial and unwilling or unable to change his whole orientation. Too much loss of face; too painful to acknowledge the people he had been attacking were right. So he was continued on down the slope of rationalization and self-justification, and will now do things that probably would have revolted him at the beginning.

      Sad character, really. But more sad for our society and our world, if his lack of integrity endangers our lives.

  6. I see Mr Watts is pushing a document by Nicola Scafetta, saying the IPCC anthropogenic theory should be questioned …

    Well, so it should, as should all theories, but unfortunately Dr Scafetta seems to have forgotten some of the basic rules of such scepticism.

    Like – you cannot cite garbage like the chemical CO2 measurements of Beck, the musings of Viscount Monckton, the ‘NIPCC’ report and Aleo and Watts on surface stations and expect to be taken seriously.

    On the central point of the ACRIM PMOD TSI reconstructions – see here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/ACRIM-vs-PMOD-the-rematch.html

    cheers ….

    • Reading through the comments, neither Anthony nor many of WUWT followers support this article. Scafetta’s notions are not favoured by the real scientists on realclimate.com either.

      Scafetta must be feeling a bit out on a limb right now. He doesn’t seem to have a friend in the world – neither denier nor anyone who understands about CO2 and global warming.

      [No-one will turn on you faster than a denialist who thought they could “count on you”! – Ben]

  7. Speaking of predictions:

    Soon after launching the project, when 40 or so of the 1221 USHCN climatological surface temperature monitoring stations had been surveyed, Watts stated that his preliminary findings raised doubts about NOAA’s temperature reporting. “I believe,” he said, “we will be able to demonstrate that some of the global warming increase is not from CO2 but from localized changes in the temperature-measurement environment

    from Watts’ wikipedia entry. Of course any real scientist (a climatologist, say) entering into a research project with a such a preconception of the outcome would immediately cast doubt on the impartiality of the methods…

    Even now that Menne, et al has shown this prediction was way offbeam, a retraction and correction is about as likely as a report on WUWT of record warm weather, or drought….

    [If Watts were to acknowledge all his errors, we’d be looking at basically twice as many posts from him… – Ben]

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