Friday, April 27, 2007

The paradox of the plankton

The paradox

In 1961, Hutchinson posed his classic question: "How is it possible for a number of species to coexist in a relatively isotrophic or unstructured environment, all competing for the same sorts of materials?"

Hutchinson gave the particular example of the phytoplankton, from which the paradox is named. Most species of phytoplankton are autotrophic, requiring light, CO2 and about 17 mineral elements, not all of which will be limiting in any particular waters. Yet considerably more species than implied by this can coexist, although in a continued state of increase and decreasing populations in self organization away from equilibrium in response to environmental and competitive changes ranging from seconds to centuries.

Overall not surprising open heterogeneous adsorbent (absorbent) – absorbent systems, approaching supramolecular equilibrium, on the whole, move away from chemical equilibrium with the environment.

Changes to absorption and emission of nutrients are also responsive to changes in both the type and spectra of radiation, these inhibit some populations and enhance others.

Hader in Advances in Space research 2000; 26(12):2029-40. provides some interesting examples in attenuation and amplification of nutrients and GHG absorption and emission.

Solar UV degrades dissolved organic carbon photolytically so that they can readily be taken up by bacterioplankton. On the other hand solar UV radiation inhibits bacterioplankton activity. Bacterioplankton productivity is far greater than previously thought and is comparable to phytoplankton primary productivity. According to the "microbial loop hypothesis," bacterioplankton is seen in the center of a food web, having a similar function to phytoplankton and protists. The penetration of UV and PAR into the water column can be measured. Marine waters show large temporal and regional differences in their concentrations of dissolved and particulate absorbing substances. A network of dosimeters (ELDONET) has been installed in Europe ranging from Abisko in Northern Sweden to Gran Canaria. Cyanobacteria are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen which is then made available to higher plants. The agricultural potential of cyanobacteria has been recognized as a biological fertilizer for wet soils such as in rice paddies. UV-B is known to impair processes such as growth, survival, pigmentation, motility, as well as the enzymes of nitrogen metabolism and CO2 fixation. The marine phytoplankton represents the single most important ecosystem on our planet and produces about the same biomass as all terrestrial ecosystems taken together. It is the base of the aquatic food chain and any changes in the size and composition of phytoplankton communities will directly affect food production for humans from marine sources. Another important role of marine phytoplankton is to serve as a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Recent investigations have shown a large sensitivity of most phytoplankton organisms toward solar short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation (UV-B); even at ambient levels of UV-B radiation many organisms seem to be under UV stress. Because of their requirement for solar energy, the phytoplankton dwell in the top layers of the water column. In this near-surface position phytoplankton will be exposed to solar ultraviolet radiation. This radiation has been shown to affect growth,photosynthesis, nitrogen incorporation and enzyme activity. Other targets of solar UV irradiation are proteins and pigments involved in photosynthesis. Whether or not screening pigments can be induced in phytoplankton to effectively shield the organisms from excessive UV irradiation needs to be determined. Macroalgae show a distinct pattern of vertical distribution in their habitat. They have developed mechanisms to regulate their photosynthetic activity to adapt to the changing light regime and protect themselves from excessive radiation. A broad survey was carried out to understand photosynthesis in aquatic ecosystems and the different adaptation strategies to solar radiation of ecologically important species of green, red and brown algae from the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean, Atlantic, polar and tropical oceans. Photoinhibition was quantified by oxygen exchange and by PAM (pulse amplitude modulated) fluorescence measurements based on transient changes of chlorophyll fluorescence.

Another is Zepp et al PPC 2003 Jan;2(1):51-61.

Interactive effects of ozone depletion and climate change on biogeochemical cycles.

The effects of ozone depiction on global biogeochemical cycles, via increased UV-B radiation at the Earth's surface, have continued to be documented over the past 4 years. In this report we also document various effects of UV-B that interact with global climate change because the detailed interactions between ozone depletion and climate change are central to the prediction and evaluation of future Earth environmental conditions. There is increasing evidence that elevated UV-B has significant effects on the terrestrial biosphere with important implications for the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and other elements. Increased UV has been shown to induce carbon monoxide production from dead plant matter in terrestrial ecosystems, nitrogen oxide production from Arctic and Antarctic snowpacks, and halogenated substances from several terrestrial ecosystems.

New studies on UV effects on the decomposition of dead leaf material confirm that these effects are complex and species-specific. Decomposition can be retarded, accelerated or remain unchanged. It has been difficult to relate effects of UV on decomposition rates to leaf litter chemistry, as this is very variable. However, new evidence shows UV effects on some fungi, bacterial communities and soil fauna that could play roles in decomposition and nutrient cycling. An important new result is that not only is nitrogen cycling in soils perturbed significantly by increased UV-B, but that these effects persist for over a decade. As nitrogen cycling is temperature dependent, this finding clearly links the impacts of ozone depletion to the ability of plants to use nitrogen in a warming global environment. There are many other potential interactions between UV and climate change impacts on terrestrial biogeochemical cycles that remain to be quantified. There is also new evidence that UV-B strongly influences aquatic carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and metals cycling that affect a wide range of life processes. UV-B accelerates the decomposition of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) entering the sea via terrestrial runoff, thus having important effects on oceanic carbon cycle dynamics. Since UV-B influences the distribution of CDOM, there is an impact of UV-B on estimates of oceanic productivity based on remote sensing of ocean color. Thus, oceanic productivity estimates based on remote sensing require estimates of CDOM distributions. Recent research shows that UV-B transforms dissolved organic matter to dissolved inorganic carbon and nitrogen, including carbon dioxide and ammonium and to organic substances that are either more or less readily available to micro-organisms. The extent of these transformations is correlated with loss of UV absorbance by the organic matter. Changes in aquatic primary productivity and decomposition due to climate-related changes in circulation and nutrient supply, which occur concurrently with increased UV-B exposure, have synergistic influences on the penetration of light into aquatic ecosystems. New research has confirmed that UV affects the biological availability of iron, copper and other trace metals in aquatic environments thus potentially affecting the growth of phytoplankton and other microorganisms that are involved in carbon and nitrogen cycling. There are several instances where UV-B modifies the air sea exchange of trace gases that in turn alter atmospheric chemistry, including the carbon cycle.

This is a reason to not look at systems in isolation,but an understanding of the interaction of all dynamics of the system to be able to describe the mechanisms,its functions,and effects .

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Uncertainties in sea temperatures, “A gathering storm.”

Last year, a paper by Lyman, et al. was released, entitled “Recent cooling of the upper ocean”. At the time, one of the authors of the report considered it to be a global warming anomaly due to natural variability, Recent disclosures in technical issues in measurement suggest this is now level ie no change in prior reconstructions. That is a slight increase of 0.2-0.5c over the last 160 years.

Of course this suggests that there are no errors in sampling of datasets that prior reconstructions are based on. As the previous post shows there seem to be some inconvenient problems with sampling outside a narrow geographical region.5-15n
As seen on the image here

As we also noted there is degree of arbitrariness in the measurement process for SST reconstructions. Another is this.

Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Article: pp. 476–486 Toward Estimating Climatic Trends in SST. Part II: Random Errors

Elizabeth C. Kent and Peter G. Challenor


Random observational errors for sea surface temperature (SST) are estimated using merchant ship reports from the International Comprehensive Ocean–Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS) for the period of 1970–97. A statistical technique, semivariogram analysis, is used to isolate the variance resulting from the observational error from that resulting from the spatial variability in a dataset of the differences of paired SST reports. The method is largely successful, although there is some evidence that in high-variability regions the separation of random and spatial error is not complete, which may have led to an overestimate of the random observational error in these regions. The error estimates are robust to changes in the details of the regression method used to estimate the spatial variability.

The resulting error estimates are shown to vary with region, time, the quality control applied, the method of measurement, the recruiting country, and the source of the data. SST data measured using buckets typically contain smaller random errors than those measured using an engine-intake thermometer. Errors are larger in the 1970s, probably because of problems with data transmission in the early days of the Global Telecommunications System. The best estimate of the global average random error in ICOADS ship SST for the period of 1970–97 is 1.2°C if the estimates are weighted by ocean area and 1.3°C if the estimates are weighted by the number of observations.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Uncertainties in Climate Means cause state of Flux

"In the descriptions of the measurement process, so essentially simple, one can notice a significant reticence in many courses of mechanics and physics which have become classic. It was my task to establish more determinacy in the problem and, along with that, to show what a great arbitrariness is present in establishing a measurement" (Friedmann 1965, p.16).

The climate sciences are dominated by measurements to show “trends” in variability over time that correlates with rises in anthropogenic GHG that in turn correlate with changes in temperature.

Over 70% of the earth is covered by ocean an the importance of both sea temperatures and fluxes as inputs govern the climate models in qualitative and quantitative attributes.

Indeed the outputs are governed by the simplistic statement sensitive to initial conditions, where a degree of arbitrariness is present in providing datasets to provide global extrapolation of flux measurement.

Gulev et al in the Journal of climate identify some substantial problems with the measurement sampling for historical ocean-air flux interactions.

Estimation of the Impact of Sampling Errors in the VOS Observations on Air–Sea
Fluxes. Part I: Uncertainties in Climate Means

Gulev et al JOURNAL OF CLIMATE VOLUME 20 January 2007

Sampling uncertainties in the voluntary observing ship (VOS)-based global ocean–atmosphere flux fields were estimated using the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis and ECMWF 40-yr Re-Analysis (ERA-40) as well as seasonal forecasts without data assimilation. Air–sea fluxes were computed from 6-hourly reanalyzed individual variables using state-of-the-art bulk formulas. Individual variables and computed fluxes were subsampled to simulate VOS-like sampling density. Random simulation of the number of VOS observations and simulation of the number of observations with contemporaneous sampling allowed for estimation of random and total sampling uncertainties respectively. Although reanalyses are dependent on VOS, constituting an important part of data assimilation input, it is assumed that the reanalysis fields adequately reproduce synoptic variability at the sea surface. Sampling errors were quantified by comparison of the regularly sampled (i.e., 6 hourly) and subsampled monthly fields of surface variables and fluxes. In poorly sampled regions random sampling errors amount to 2.5°–3°C for air temperature, 3 m s 1 for the wind speed, 2–2.5 g kg 1 for specific humidity, and 15%–20% of the total cloud cover. The highest random sampling errors in surface fluxes were found for the sensible and latent heat flux and range from 30 to 80 Wm 2. Total sampling errors in poorly sampled areas may be higher than random ones by 60%. In poorly sampled subpolar latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere and throughout much of the Southern Ocean the total sampling uncertainty in the net heat flux can amount to 80–100 W m 2. The highest values of the uncertainties associated with the interpolation/ extrapolation into unsampled grid boxes are found in subpolar latitudes of both hemispheres for the turbulent fluxes, where they can be comparable with the sampling errors. Simple dependencies of the sampling errors on the number of samples and the magnitude of synoptic variability were derived. Sampling errors estimated from different reanalyses and from seasonal forecasts yield qualitatively comparable spatial patterns, in which the actual values of uncertainties are controlled by the magnitudes of synoptic variability. Finally, estimates of sampling uncertainties are compared with the other errors in air–sea fluxes and the reliability of the estimates obtained is discussed.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The carbon cycle and ecosystems, the biosphere an “appendage of the atmosphere”

The “gases of the entire atmosphere are in a state of dynamic and perpetual exchange with living matter”.

Vernadsky The Biosphere

The information about atmospheric warming imparts particular significance to the task of determining the real-life dynamics of the biosphere. The actual contributions of the land and ocean biota’s have not been accurately determined, although there is a great body of literature on the subject.

Indeed both quantification and qualification of the “carbon cycle” has been handled badly by the UNFCC and WCRP. With simplistic assumptions and generalized parameters that are formatted by “climate scientists “with little understanding of the interconnected and overlapping oscillations of dynamic energy exchangers in a state of self organization

“Even at these places, sampled in the free atmosphere, the concentrations and carbon isotopic ratios were nearly the same as in the afternoon near vegetation (30, 32). Why didn’t photosynthesis, which takes CO2 out of the air during the day, cause low and variable concentrations when respiration by plants and soil, which puts CO2 into the air at night, causes high and variable concentrations? I found an explanation in a book that attracted my attention because of its apt title: The Climate Near the Ground (21). All of my forest measurements had been made during fair weather. On such days heating by the Sun typically induces enough turbulence in air near plants to cause thorough mixing of this air with the free atmosphere by early afternoon. Where I had sampled, the free air evidently had been of nearly constant composition with respect to CO2. In contrast, during the nighttime the air near the ground cooled, forming a stable layer that allowed CO2 from respiration to build up within the forest canopy.”

Charles Keeling autobiography

The extensive scientific discussion of global warming causes a natural wish to relate this process to possible changes in the amount and dynamics of terrestrial and oceanic vegetation. Does this process influence variations in the amount and diversity of plants or metabolic oscillation? Plausible yes from a metrological perspective. However this is a subset of the total ecosystem and has less importance then either biogeochemical, or biologic parameters

First let’s define self organization; we will use Francis Heylighen’s description,

Self-organization can be defined as the spontaneous creation of a globally coherent pattern out of local interactions. Because of its distributed character, this organization tends to be robust, resisting perturbations. The dynamics of a self-organizing system is typically non-linear, because of circular or feedback relations between the components. Positive feedback leads to an explosive growth, which ends when all components have been absorbed into the new configuration, leaving the system in a stable, negative feedback state. Non-linear systems have in general several stable states, and this number tends to increase (bifurcate) as an increasing input of energy pushes the system farther from its thermodynamic equilibrium. To adapt to a changing environment, the system needs a variety of stable states that is large enough to react to all perturbations but not so large as to make its evolution uncontrollably chaotic. The most adequate states are selected according to their fitness, either directly by the environment, or by subsystems that have adapted to the environment at an earlier stage. Formally, the basic mechanism underlying self-organization is the (often noise-driven) variation which explores different regions in the system’s state space until it enters an attractor. This precludes further variation outside the attractor, and thus restricts the freedom of the system’s components to behave independently. This is equivalent to the increase of coherence, or decrease of statistical entropy, that defines self organization.

Does it influence the pattern of their seasonal and long-term variations? Of particular importance is the problem of determining the dynamics of primary production. The changes are of different scales in space and time.

To determine the relationship between global changes in climate and the biosphere, it is particularly important to trace long-term variability of biological parameters at different latitudes and in different biogeographic conditions. Scaling is important. As is the observable changes in phenotype and genetic evolution which is measurable over several generations in the microbial world and at decadal level in pastures. It is called adaptation and evolution.

An interesting paper that identifies differentials in spatial and temporal variances in meteorological/biologic parameters has been published by van der Tol1, et al Biogeosciences, 4, 137–154, 2007.

Abstract. The aim of this study is to explain topography induced spatial variations in the diurnal cycles of assimilation and latent heat of Mediterranean forest. Spatial variations of the fluxes are caused by variations in weather conditions and in vegetation characteristics. Weather conditions reflect short-term effects of climate, whereas vegetation characteristics, through adaptation and acclimation, long-term effects of climate. In this study measurement of plant physiology and weather conditions are used to explain observed differences in the fluxes. A model is used to study which part of the differences in the fluxes is caused by weather conditions and which part by vegetation characteristics.

The model predicted diurnal cycles of transpiration and stomatal conductance,
both their magnitudes and differences in afternoon stomatal closure between slopes of different aspect within the confidence interval of the validation data. Weather conditions mainly responsible for the shape of the diurnal cycles ,and vegetation parameters for the magnitude of the fluxes. Although the data do not allow for a quantification of the two effects, the differences in vegetation parameters and weather among the plots and the sensitivity of the fluxes to them suggest that the diurnal cycles were more strongly affected by spatial variations in vegetation parameters than by meteorological variables. This indicates that topography induced variations in vegetation parameters are of equal importance to the fluxes as topography induced variations in radiation,humidity and temperature.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Inverse oscillations methane and nitrous oxide

The release of the IPCC report on impacts for NZ has seen the usual suspects baying for blood from industry and farming as the instruments of the new “pestilence”. Farming especially has been selected for pillory in the stocks and fiscal punishment.

Statistic NZ has an interesting graph on ghg emissions from 1990-2000 .Agriculture emissions seem to trend downwards and indeed they do going from 43,314.72 Gg CO2 in 1990 to 41,984.54 in 2000.

New Zealand’s carbon dioxide emissions, although very small in an overall world context, have been steadily contributing to the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions seen since 1990. Between 1990 and 2000, methane emissions have been decreasing on average compared with 1990 levels but may now be stabilising at around 1998 levels. Nitrous oxide emissions have increased by 6.4 percent between 1990 and 2000.

NIWA has made trace gas measurements at Baring Head (on the South Coast of the North Island near Wellington) since 1973. When the wind blows from the South, Baring Head air has generally had a long trajectory over the ocean. Under such conditions measurements of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide represent mid-latitude Southern Hemisphere background values, since the sampled air has not been contaminated by sources on the New Zealand mainland. Baring Head is part of a global network of stations for determining trends in greenhouse gas concentrations.

As we see the oscillations here

The ocean is a significant source of the trace gases nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and carbon monoxide (CO), which influence the radiative and oxidative capacity of the atmosphere. On both regional and global scales the marine source of these climate reactive gases is related to nutrient availability and phytoplankton production, and consequently any shift in nutrient supply, whether natural or forced, may have profound implications for atmospheric chemistry and climate . Law and Ling (2002) reported that the decrease in radiative forcing resulting from carbon dioxide fixation and CO2 uptake may be subsequently offset by 6-12% by N2O production.

The oxidising capacity of the troposphere reflects the ability of the atmosphere to cleanse itself of man-made and natural compounds. It is primarily determined by the concentration of hydroxyl radicals (OH) which are formed mainly from the photo dissociation of ozone by UV radiation. The emission of trace gases containing nitrogen and halogen (Cl, Br, I) atoms from the biosphere into the atmosphere affects the oxidising capacity, both as a source of reactive radicals such as NO3, Cl and BrO, and as a result of their influence on the concentration of ozone. The alkyl nitrates are a reservoir species for NOx (=NO2 + NO). Photolysis of NO2 is the only known way of producing ozone in the troposphere, therefore the photochemical processes occurring in the lower atmosphere are critically dependent on the level of nitrogen oxides. As the alkyl nitrates are relatively long lived in the troposphere, they can act as a source of NOx in remote environments away from continental sources and so influence ozone concentrations on regional levels.

In general, the alkyl nitrates have a predominantly anthropogenic source, but during the 1990s, several authors invoked an oceanic source of the light alkyl nitrates (C1-C3) to explain the distributions seen over remote oceanic regions (Blake, 1999). Recent studies in the Atlantic and southern Ocean have confirmed a seawater source of methyl and ethyl nitrate eg(Chuck et al 2002), and their production mechanisms .

As we also know the geographic proximity position of NZ to the geodesic proton cutoffs for high energy particle events from both solar and cosmic sources and their precipitating mechanisms of nitric oxide, we can conclude the passing of command and control legislation (cap and trade) is only a mechanism for wealth distribution and has no climatic response that is scientifically measurable.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Quantum thermodynamics in photosynthesis

A study led by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) at Berkeley reports that the answer lies in quantum mechanical effects. Results of the study are presented in the April 12, 2007 issue of the journal Nature.

Through photosynthesis, green plants and cyanobacteria are able to transfer sunlight energy to molecular reaction centers for conversion into chemical energy with nearly 100-percent efficiency. Speed is the key – the transfer of the solar energy takes place almost instantaneously so little energy is wasted as heat. How photosynthesis achieves this near instantaneous energy transfer is a long-standing mystery that may have finally been solved.

“We have obtained the first direct evidence that remarkably long-lived wavelike electronic quantum coherence plays an important part in energy transfer processes during photosynthesis,” said Graham Fleming, the principal investigator for the study. “This wavelike characteristic can explain the extreme efficiency of the energy transfer because it enables the system to simultaneously sample all the potential energy pathways and choose the most efficient one.”

One of the most sensitive signatures of phytoplankton optical properties is chlorophyll fluorescence. The coloration of phytoplankton is a consequence of evolutionary selection of pigments that can absorb and transfer excitation energy to photosynthetic reaction centers, where the excitation energy (in the form of an “exciton,” an excited state within a lattice structural matrix) can be used to induce physical charge separation.Phytoplankton comprises at least eight taxonomic divisions (the equivalent of animal phyla), each of which has one or more distinctive light-harvesting pigments. Excitation energy is transferred from pigment to pigment within a protein scaffold via either Forster resonance or excitation coupling (Falkowski and Raven, 1997). The excitation transfer almost always proceeds “downhill” (i.e. to longer-wavelength pigments).

The terminus of excitation transfer is chlorophyll a, from whence a fraction of the excitation energy is emitted to the environment in the red portion of the spectrum (centered at 683 nm). In vivo, chlorophyll fluorescence competes for excitons with two other energy-dissipating processes, photochemistry and nonradiative energy dissipation (heat). As such, it is possible to relate changes in chlorophyll fluorescence quantitatively to the quantum yield of photochemistry.

There are several interesting connections between bio-optics, biogeochemistry,upper ocean physics, and the biological pump. As described earlier, primary productivity and phytoplankton biomass are dependent on photosynthetic processes, which implicitly involve the availability of light (e.g., PAR) and nutrients. Macronutrients (e.g., nitrate, silicate, and phosphate) and micronutrients (e.g., iron) are important. The spectral quality of light varies with depth and is important for specific phytoplankton species with special pigmentation or photoadaptive characteristics, as described earlier (e.g., see also Bidigare et al., 1990; Bissett et al., 1999). Light exposure for individuals is affected by variation in physical conditions, including mixed layer depth, turbulent mixing, and currents as well as incident solar radiation, which varies in time and space (e.g., astronomical forcing, cloud variability). An important feedback concerns the modulation of the spectral light field at depth as phytoplankton concentrations and communities wax and wane. The determination of primary production in the upper ocean is a vital step in quantifying the carbon flux associated with the biological pump (Laws et al., 2000). Fundamental measurements and models have been developed to estimate primary production . Such models often use measurements of chlorophyll a concentration and PAR. The choices of values for spectral absorption and quantum efficiency are often critical, as both of these parameters can vary in time and geographically.

Thus in summary we can see the importance of the spectral wavelengths and species for photosynthesis ,the transformation of energy from radiative to chemical energy, the limitations for absorbtion and modulation of thermal radiation in the oceans by the biosphere.A system of inter and overlying sets,which when studied in isolation seem trivial but as a dynamic system in total, show us a complex non linear "engine"that undercorrects and overcorrects due to self organisation and autocatalytic mechanisms.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Carbon offsets trees the double edged leaf

As we have previously stated the use of forests as carbon offsets is not a simplistic solution as there are other factors that need to be identified,mostly latitude.

A new study attempts to resolve the factors that need to be quantified.

How effective are new trees in offsetting the carbon footprint? A new study suggests that the location of the new trees is an important factor when considering such carbon offset projects. Planting and preserving forests in the tropics is more likely to slow down global warming.

But the study concludes that planting new trees in certain parts of the planet may actually warm the Earth.

The new study, which combines climate and carbon-cycle effects of large-scale deforestation in a fully interactive three-dimensional climate-carbon model, confirms that planting more tropical rainforests could help slow global warming worldwide.

The research, led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory atmospheric scientist Govindasamy Bala, appears in the April 9-13 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Forests affect climate in three different ways: they absorb the greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide – from the atmosphere and help keep the planet cool; they evaporate water to the atmosphere and increase cloudiness, which also helps keep the planet cool; and they are dark and absorb sunlight (the albedo effect), warming the Earth. Previous climate change mitigation strategies that promote planting trees have taken only the first effect into account.

“Our study shows that only tropical rainforests are strongly beneficial in helping slow down global warming,” Bala said. “It is a win-win situation in the tropics because trees in the tropics, in addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, promote convective clouds that help to cool the planet. In other locations, the warming from the albedo effect either cancels or exceeds the net cooling from the other two effects.”

The study concludes that by the year 2100, forests in mid- and high-latitudes will make some places up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than would have occurred if the forests did not exist.

As the IPCC has stated in its 2007 publications its level of understanding of albedo is 10% and as we have seen with the photochemical modulation of SST by plankton,the biosphere is and important amplifier or attenuation mechanism of climate.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Economic Inequality: Is it a Natural law ?

If your theory is found to be against the second law of theromodynamics, I give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

It is one thing for the human mind to extract from the phenomena of nature the laws which it has itself put into them; it may be a far harder thing to extract laws over which it has no control.

Arthur Eddington.

Economists who yearn for the redistribution of wealth in an ideal society are up against history. According to a recent study, the uneven distribution of wealth in a society appears to be a universal law that holds true for economies in many different societies, from ancient Egypt to modern Japan and the U.S. This distribution may reflect a simple natural law analogous to a 100-year-old theory describing the distribution of energy in a gas.

In an interesting paper on applications of thermodynamic distribution Arnab Chatterjee et al Economic Inequality: Is it Natural ? have connected wealth distributions across different economies in a number of power law distributions based on power laws from the Gibbs theorem of free energy.

We are all aware of the hard fact: neither wealth nor income is ever uniform for us all. Justified or not, they are unevenly distributed; few are rich, many are poor! Such socioeconomic inequalities seem to be a persistent fact of life ever since civilization began. Can it be that it only reflects a simple natural law, understandable from the application of physics?

Investigations over more than a century and the recent availability of electronic databases of income and wealth distribution (ranging from national sample survey of household assets to the income tax return data available from governmental agencies) have revealed some remarkable features. Irrespective of many differences in culture, history, social structure, indicators of relative prosperity (such as gross domestic product or infant mortality) and, to some extent, the economic policies followed in different countries, the income distribution seems to follow a particular universal pattern, as does the wealth distribution: After an initial rise, the number density of people rapidly decays with their income, the bulk described by a Gibbs or log-normal distribution crossing over at the very high income range (for 5-10% of the richest members of the population) to a power law with an exponent (known as Pareto exponent) value between 1 and 3. This seems to be an universal feature: from ancient Egyptian society through nineteenth century Europe to modern Japan The same is true across the globe today: from the advanced capitalist economy of USA 4,5 to the developing economy of India .

The power-law tail, indicating a much higher frequency of occurrence of very rich individuals (or households) than would be expected by extrapolating the properties of the bulk of the distribution, was first observed by Vilfredo Pareto in the 1890s for income distribution of several societies at very different stages of economic development.Later, the wealth distribution was also seen to follow similar behavior. Subsequently, there have been several attempts starting around the 1950s, mostly by economists, to explain the genesis of the power law tail (for a review,see Champernowne). However, most of these models involved a large number of factors that made understanding the essential reason behind the occurrence of inequality difficult. Following this period of activity, a relative lull followed in the 70s and 80s when the field lay dormant, although accurate and extensive data were accumulated that would eventually make possible precise empirical determination of the distribution properties. This availability of large quantity of electronic data and their computational analysis has led to a recent resurgence of interest in the problem, specifically over the last one and half decade.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Phytoplankton adaption by modulation.

Recent work by two theoretical ecologists (Huisman & Weissing, 1999; 2001),has shown that competition for resources by as few as three species can result in long-term oscillations, even in the traditionally convergent models of plankton species growth. For as few as five species, apparently chaotic behavior can emerge. Huisman and Weissing propose these phenomena as one possible new explanation of the paradox of the plankton, in which the number of co-existing plankton species far exceeds the number of limiting resources, in direct contradiction of theoretical predictions. Continuously fluctuating species levels can support more species than a steady, stable equilibrium distribution.

Their results show that external factors are not necessary to maintain non-equilibrium conditions; the inherent complexity of the “simple” model itself can be sufficient.As we observed here with Bauers statement

"Only living systems never reach equilibrium, for they constantly work against stability" [4, p.43]. According to Bauer, the source of free energy(or” the work of structuring forces" and "structural energy" are the synonyms) is the nonequilibrium of molecular structure of living matter

For example, where we assume a fixed population size, their population size varies and is constrained only by the finite resources themselves normally the Liebig's Law of the Minimum where growth is determined by the availability of the scarcest resource nitrogen, phosphorous etc..

As carbon is not is short supply in the ocean-atmosphere interface we can expect changes to the assimilation and transformation to be unaffected by changes to ph levels in the ocean.( The processes of carbon chemical-biological cycle, air-water exchange and carbonate system transformation)

Indeed Yakushev, E.V. and Mikhailovsky, G.E., 1995. found some biological attenuation (modulation)of ph levels during phytoplankton blooms.

The dramatic increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations observed during the past decades can be associated with the natural climatic oscillations or/and with anthropogenic influence. Concern about the potential role of CO2 as a “greenhouse gas” had led to necessity of investigation of this element global biogeochemical cycle peculiarities. The oceans play an important role in this cycle, containing large reservoirs of dissolved inorganic carbon as gaseous CO2(g), bicarbonate (HCO3-) and carbonate (CO32-) ions. Because of it, the ocean ultimately determines the atmosphere's CO2 content (Siegenthaler, Sarmiento, 1993). Information about the CO2 system behavior can be obtained by investigations of the processes which affect the carbonate system parameters distribution and variability.

One of the most interesting aspect of this problem is the role of marine biota. When we speak about this, we consider the aggregation of gaseous CO2 into particulate organic carbon (POC), which can be transported into the deeper layers, sedimented on the bottom and thereby excluded from the global cycle and also of the POC mineralization and respiration processes (so-called “soft tissue pump” (Gruber et al, 1996) . However during the phytoplankton bloom the decrease of CO2 is accompanied by disbalance of the system which can initialize the activity of the other “pumps”: (“solubility pump” - ocean-atmosphere CO2 exchange, and “carbonate pump” - and formation dissolution of calcium carbonates).

During the bloom the consummation of gaseous CO2 by phytoplankton leads to the disbalance of the carbonate system equilibrium. This results in increased pH values and therefore in changes in the carbonate system balance toward increases in carbonates and additional decreases in gaseous CO2. In other words, during the bloom the upper layer gaseous carbon dioxide decreases for two reasons - consummation of the organic matter synthesis and transformation from gaseous CO2 to CO3, initiated by pH changes.

In this case during the bloom period one can observe decrease of TCO2 and dissolved CO2 while the value of carbonate alkalinity (AlkC) remains constant to fulfill the sea water electricity neutrality equation (Millero, 1995, Dickson, 1992).

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Red Planet causes green faces to Redden

“Global warming could be heating Mars four times faster than Earth due to a mutually reinforcing interplay of wind-swept dust and changes in reflected heat from the Sun, according a study released Wednesday.”

The study, published on Thursday by the British journal Nature, shows for the first time that these variations not only result from the storms but help cause them too.

It also suggests that short-term climate change is currently occurring on Mars and at a much faster rate than on Earth.

Its authors, led by Lori Fenton, a planetary scientist at NASA, describe the phenomenon as a "positive feedback" system -- in other words, a vicious circle, in which changes in albedo strengthen the winds which in turn kicks up more dust, in turn adding to the warming.

In the same way, if a snow-covered area on Earth warms and the snow melts, the reflected light decreases and more solar radiation is absorbed, causing local temperatures to increase. If new snow falls, a cooling cycle starts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lakes and reservoirs underestimated carbon sinks.

As we have mentioned here, the fundamental errors of quantification in the Global carbon cycle by the IPCC, and the Kyoto mechanisms to quantify anthropogenic land use change and mitigation, have lead to flawed assumptions by policymakers.

The global transport of carbon (partly in the form of CO2) among the large reservoirs is called the global carbon cycle. Carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere together with the uptake by the terrestrial sinks and oceans governs the carbon dioxide content observed by the global sampling networks. Currently 40-60% of the anthropogenic released carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere. Our current knowledge is ambiguous whether the rest of the CO2 is being detached by oceans or by terrestrial sinks (soil or vegetation) (Baldocchi et al., 1996) or the sequential cycle is quantified completely.

Based on measurements and model calculations, concluded that there should be a large CO2 sink in the Northern Hemisphere to balance the observed global carbon budget. Some of these papers suggests that this "missing sink" ( 1.4 Gt carbon/year after Schimel, 1995) must be the terrestrial biosphere in the northern temperate latitudes. The 3D atmospheric transport models used for global carbon cycle studies are using CO2 concentration time series measured by the global sampling network (Tans et al., 1996) as input data. The sources or sinks are inferred from the generally small horizontal concentration gradients of CO2 measured by the existing sparse measuring network. Thus locating, characterizing and quantifying the ``missing sink'' requires additional, very high precision CO2 measurements in the relevant geographical regions

In a recent paper published on line we find the cycling of C by inland waterways is substantially more then thought. This has important findings for those arguing against reservoirs and dam catchment’s activities, or indeed irrigation activity, which as we already have observed lowers the regional temperatures.

On Earth, carbon is continually cycling through terrestrial systems, inland waters, the ocean, and the atmosphere. Until little over a decade ago, when calculating the terrestrial component of the global carbon budget, inputs were limited to the ocean and the land. Because inland water bodies cover less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, it was assumed that their contribution was inconsequential.

This view was recently challenged in an Ecosystems paper highlighting the findings of a National Center for Ecological Assessment and Synthesis analysis. Carried out by a team of international scientists, including Institute of Ecosystem Studies Biogeochemist Dr. Jonathan J. Cole, the paper’s senior author, the group reveals that inland water bodies are important areas of terrestrial carbon transformation that deserve inclusion in global carbon cycle assessments.

Take, for instance, the role played by lakes and reservoirs. By burying carbon in their sediments, lakes serve as important regional carbon stores. In aggregate, lakes play a significant role in the global carbon budget. On an annual basis, they bury 40% as much carbon as the ocean. Reservoirs, which are steadily increasing in number, bury more organic carbon than all natural lake basins combined and exceed oceanic organic carbon burial by more than 1.5-fold.

These findings debunk the concept that inland waters are inconsequential when accounting for the global carbon budget; instead they are places of complex and active carbon transformation. The take home message from the authors: "Continental hydrologic networks, from river mouths to the smallest upstream tributaries, do not act as neutral pipes— they are active players in the carbon cycle despite their modest size."

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