Friday, January 25, 2013

New paper says Amazon trees will tolerate IPCC projected temperature in 2100

A new paper published in Ecology & Evolution finds trees in the Amazon rain forest have tolerated temperatures in the past similar to the [exaggerated] temperature projections of the IPCC for the year 2100. According to the authors, "The remarkably old age of these species suggest that Amazon forests passed through warmth similar to 2100 levels and that, in the absence of other major environmental changes, near-term high temperature-induced mass species extinction is unlikely." The paper adds to several other peer-reviewed publications showing that alarmist claims of ecosystem collapse or drying up of the Amazon amount to fear mongering, falsehoods, and exaggerations.

Neogene origins and implied warmth tolerance of Amazon tree species

Christopher W. Dick1,2,*,
Simon L. Lewis3,4,
Mark Maslin4,
Eldredge Bermingham2

Tropical rain forest has been a persistent feature in South America for at least 55 million years. The future of the contemporary Amazon forest is uncertain, however, as the region is entering conditions with no past analogue, combining rapidly increasing air temperatures, high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, possible extreme droughts, and extensive removal and modification by humans. Given the long-term Cenozoic cooling trend, it is unknown whether Amazon forests can tolerate air temperature increases, with suggestions that lowland forests lack warm-adapted taxa, leading to inevitable species losses. In response to this uncertainty, we posit a simple hypothesis: the older the age of a species prior to the Pleistocene, the warmer the climate it has previously survived, with Pliocene (2.6–5 Ma) and late-Miocene (8–10 Ma) air temperature across Amazonia being similar to 2100 temperature projections under low and high carbon emission scenarios, respectively. Using comparative phylogeographic analyses, we show that 9 of 12 widespread Amazon tree species have Pliocene or earlier lineages (>2.6 Ma), with seven dating from the Miocene (>5.6 Ma) and three >8 Ma. The remarkably old age of these species suggest that Amazon forests passed through warmth similar to 2100 levels and that, in the absence of other major environmental changes, near-term high temperature-induced mass species extinction is unlikely.


  1. The fundamental assumption of the greenhouse effect is that back radiation has warmed the surface from 255K to 288K. But this assumption is itself based on a false assumption.

    So why should anyone be "puzzled" that climate is not racking carbon dioxide levels?

    Roy Spencer (in his post about Greenhouse misunderstandings) claims in his point (6) that the atmosphere would have been isothermal at 255K in the absence of any GHG.

    An isothermal atmosphere in a gravitational field would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which reads: "An isolated system, if not already in its state of thermodynamic equilibrium, spontaneously evolves towards it. Thermodynamic equilibrium has the greatest entropy amongst the states accessible to the system"

    In isothermal conditions there would be more potential energy (PE) in eash molecule at the top, and, because kinetic energy (KE) is homogeneous, molecules could "fall" downwards and do work in the process. hence it was not an equilibrium state, let alone one of maximum entropy, as is required by the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics has to be obeyed. So (PE+KE) has to be homogeneous, because otherwise work could be done, and so the system would not be at an equilibrium with greatest entropy, as the Second Law requires. In the process of reaching such equilibrium it is inevitable that molecules at the bottom have more kinetic energy, and there are more of them in any given volume, and so that does give a measure of higher pressure, yes. But the whole column could still cool down, maintaining the same gradient and pressure.

    So pressure does not maintain temperature. The relationship in the ideal gas law only applies in adiabatic conditions, but the atmosphere can radiate heat away. If you "turned off" the Sun, Venus atmosphere and surface would eventually cool down.

  2. (continued)

    We need to consider how the thermal energy actually gets into the Venus surface, especially at the poles. The facts are ..

    (1) the poles receive less than 1W/m^2 of direct insolation.

    (2) the atmosphere 1Km above the poles is at least 9 degrees cooler, and not absorbing much insolation either. It could have at most 1W/m^2 coming back out of the surface, which (at 0.5 absorptivity) would raise it to a mere 7K.

    (3) Rather than being 7K, the lowest Km of the Venus atmosphere is around 720K, just a few degrees less hot than the surface.

    If all convection (resulting from absorbed incident insolation at various altitudes) only went down the thermal gradient (ie towards space) how would enough energy get into the surface, especially if it were even just 1 degree hotter than the base of the atmosphere?

    My answer is that the sloping playing field (the thermal profile) becomes a level playing field due to gravity, so all energy absorbed in the atmosphere (mostly incident insolation) spreads out in all directions, creating convection both up and down, and also diffusion and convection right around the globe producing equal temperatures at equal altitudes, but higher temperatures at lower altitudes. Then intra-atmospheric radiation reduces the magnitude of the net gradient by about 10% to 15% on Venus, (as best I can work out) but by about a third on Earth. Some of the extra reduction on Earth. though, is probably due to release of latent heat.

    Here's a thought experiment. Construct a perfectly insulated sealed cylinder filled with pure nitrogen gas. Suppose there are two insulating dividers which you can now slide into place one third and two thirds up the cylinder, thus making three equal zones. Warm the middle zone with a heating element, which you then turn off. Allow equilibrium to establish with the warmer nitrogen in the central zone. Then remove the dividers. Those molecules which move to the top zone will lose some KE as they gain extra PE, whereas those which fall to the lowest zone will gain KE as they lose PE. Hence, when the new equilibrium is established, the highest zone measures a lower temperature than the middle zone, and the lowest zone measures a higher temperature than the middle zone. Hence the highest zone measures a lower temperature than the lowest zone. QED.

    So there is no need for any greenhouse effect to raise the surface temperature, simply because gravity cannot help but do so, because the atmosphere must obey the Second Law of Thermodynamics.