Saturday, 2 November 2013

Why no C14 dilution?

This post is written in frustration about the Man Made Global warming nonsense.  It is a work in progress as the ideas come, but it is clear that the science is not 'in', whatever that means.

There have been previous, pre industrial warming periods, periods wiped out in Michael Mann's hockey stick where he calculated global temperatures based on a single tree, obviously in a single location.

It has been used by people who fear industrialization and those who simply hate the idea of industrialization and those who hate the West.    Many make a great deal of money from scaring people and it seems the world spends $1Bn a day on Global Warming nonsense, a huge industry.   Australia in particular, with only 4% of CO2 output has a $9Bn tax on carbon, 18x as much as the whole of Europe, one of the greatest offenders.   Even China is getting cash subsidies for Green hydro schemes while growing their CO2 emissions per year more than Australia's whole output.    There is a great deal of money in all this.

However consider the following .

1. Carbon 14.   Carbon 14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon.    It is formed in the upper atmosphere by cosmic rays and it has a half life of 5700 years.  Eventually it decays to become Nitrogen 14.   This C14 decays all the time but is replaced all the time.   There is no other source of C14.    

2. Over a long time like 50,000 years, the steady of creation of C14 by cosmic rays and the decay to Nitrogen reach a balance where the amount vanishing matches exactly the amount being created.    This is called equilibrium.   It would happens in systems where the amount of change is proportional to the thing changing.  
If you were putting water in a bucket and the leak was proportional to the amount of water in the bucket, you would reach a static level.    This steady level over millenia is used for carbon dating.

3. Plants and trees are made almost entirely from CO2 and H2O and precious little else.   Trees and thus wood are solid CO2 and water recombined by photosynthesis into chemicals called hydrocarbons.     If you burn hydrocarbons, they become CO2 and H2O again.

4. The CO2 is captured when the plant is alive and the age of a piece of wood is determined by how much is left.   This is called radio carbon dating.   Note that C14 is not C12 or C13, the usual stable isotopes of carbon.   C14 is very special and rare.

5. Fossil fuels are millions of years old and have no C14 left at all.

6. The 50% increase in CO2 in the atmosphere since the start of industrialization is blamed on the burning of fossil fuels.

However if this was true, the total C14 in the air should be diluted to 2/3 of the old historic constant level.   

It isn't, so why not?

First some perhaps obvious things and known things
a. CO2
     (i) CO2 dissolved in the oceans is 50x greater than the CO2 in the air.
     (ii). CO2 in the air is around 2,000Billion tons. 
     (iii). CO2 released from burning fuel is around 35 Billion tons.
     (iv) the CO2 in the oceans is 3,000x as much as CO2 released each year.
     (v)  CO2 is a trace gas.  The amount in the air is tiny, 0.04% or 4 parts in 10,000.
    (vi) all plants and thus all life on earth is made from hydrocarbons, in turn made from CO2 and H20.  A little Calcium for bones and tiny amounts other elements.    We are carbon lifeforms.
 (vii) C14 does not occur naturally except in this high atmosphere, created by cosmic rays.

b. Fish do not breathe water.   They filter the O2 from the water.  The fish in the water all breathe oxygen or they would die.   It has to change regularly or they would die.  This happens in stagnant water and fish tanks. So gases in the air, CO2 and O2 go into and out of the water all the time, generally due to interaction in the form of ripples or waves.   Very still water can become stagnant and fish die.

c. the exchanges of heat and gases CO2, O2 with the oceans is massive and continuous.   Rain, snow, hurricanes, the Gulf stream.  Even simple wind on the water and waves are due almost entirely to wind.      

The rain on which we depend for fresh water comes from the oceans by evaporation from the oceans.   So does the humidity in the air and the clouds.   In this case water itself becomes a gas like CO2, O2 and N2.   In summer the planet surface heats and we get a lot of rain and hurricanes and tornadoes and water spouts.     Storms produce massive exchange of gases but perhaps no more than the wind on the water and the wave action.   Turbulence.  So the air/water interaction  is a huge part of life on earth and life on the land started in the water.

d. Oceans cover 2/3 of the planet.   They absorb 2/3 of the sunlight and they are very deep with a higher heat capacity than land,they do not increase in temperature as much and are slower to give the heat back as they do not get as hot.   . 
e. Oceans are very deep.  4km on average.   
f. Oceans are very heavy. 1 atmosphere is the pressure of the air on the water and us.   However you reach this in water at 10 metres.   So the weight of only 10 metres of water equals that of the entire atmosphere.   This means the oceans are 4,000x more massive than the air. 
g. We understand very well the effect of heat a liquid with dissolved gases.    Henry's law describes the simple relation.  The amount of gas in the air against the same gas in the water is directly proportional the temperature of the water.   Dissolved CO2 is exactly like lemonade or champagne.  Heat it and the gas comes out.   Cool it and the bubbles stop. 

So does heating the oceans change CO2 levels in the air?    What temperature change would be required to explain a 50% increase in CO2 in the air. 

Without even using Henry's Law you can look a the idea with a simpler concept, solubility.   Consider the solubility of CO2 in water at atmospheric pressures as shown in the table below.  (This is not Henry's law, but another equivalent way of looking at the same situation)

 Engineering toolbox

Solubility of Carbon Dioxide - CO2 - in Water

solubility diagram - carbon dioxide - CO2 - in water at different temperatures
Let us do some simple calculations.    If we consider sea water at say 10C.   What happens to the CO2 dissolved if the water is warmed by 1C?
From the graph, 
at 10C, 2.5g of CO2 /kg of water at normal pressure
at 20C 1.7g of CO2/kg of water at normal pressure

So we lose 0.08g of CO2 gas from solution for every one degree increase in water temperature . (2.5-1.7)/10
This means 0.08/2.5 or 1/30th of the dissolved CO2 will leave the ocean for a single degree of warming. 
However it will overwhelm the aerial CO2 as there is 50x as dissolved CO2 in the water.  50/30=1.7, so aerial CO2 will increase 70%.    
So my simple conclusions?     
CO2 is a dissolved gas is in equilibrium with the atmosphere above it and the observed increase in CO2 in the air since industrialization is simply explained as a consequence of very slight warming of the oceans.   It is the result of slight warming, not the cause.

And another.   
1. This huge reservoir of CO2 is known to all scientists and chemists.    
2. Everyone knows gas in solution behaves like this.
3. No one has said anything

And an observation.

NASA and others talk about C12 vs C13.   These are stable common isotopes of Carbon.    C12O2 has a weight of (12+2*16) = 44amu or 44 grams per mole, 22 litres of CO2 at standard temperature and pressure.  C13O2 has a weight of 45amu.   NASA and others argue that some plants slightly prefer one CO2 over the other 45.   In this way they try to prove man made CO2 from fossil fuel is responsible for the 50% increase in CO2

Why do they ignore C14?

Here is a graph of C14 over time and you have to wonder that it is so constant up to the point of the atom bombs and is quickly returning to that long term level.   None of this graph fits with the idea that the CO2 increase is man made.   It fits perfectly with a model of equilibrium with the oceans.    Wherever the C14 rich CO2 went, our fossil fuel with no C14 also went.    We are not masters of our universe, or even of our planet.

Suess or Industrial effect

Since about 1890, the use of industrial and fossil fuels has resulted in large amounts of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere. Because the source of the industrial fuels has been predominantly material of infinite geological age ( e.g coal, petroleum), whose radiocarbon content is nil, the radiocarbon activity of the atmosphere has been lowered in the early part of the 20th century up until the 1950's. The atmospheric radiocarbon signal has, in effect, been diluted by about 2%. Hans Suess (1955) discovered the industrial effect (also called after him) in the 1950's. A number of researchers found that the activity they expected from material growing since 1890 AD was lower. The logical conclusion from this was that in order to obtain a modern radiocarbon reference standard, representing the radiocarbon activity of the 'present day', one could not very well use wood which grew in the 1900's since it was affected by this industrial effect. Thus it was that 1890 wood was used as the modern radiocarbon standard, extrapolated for decay to 1950 AD.

Atom bomb effect

Since about 1955, thermonuclear tests have added considerably to the C14 atmospheric reservoir. This C14 is 'artificial' or 'bomb' C14, produced because nuclear bombs produce a huge thermal neutron flux. The effect of this has been to almost double the amount of C14 activity in terrestrial carbon bearing materials (Taylor, 1987).
De Vries (1958) was the first person to identify this 'Atom Bomb' effect. In the northern hemisphere the amount of artificial carbon in the atmosphere reached a peak in 1963 (in the southern hemisphere around 1965) at about 100% above normal levels. Since that time the amount has declined owing to exchange and dispersal of C14 into the Earth's carbon cycle system. The presence of bomb carbon in the earth's biosphere has enabled it to be used as a tracer to investigate the mechanics of carbon mixing and exchange processes. Ellen Druffel has called this the silver lining in thermonuclear bomb testing. 

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