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CO2 Concentrations by Hemisphere

  1. Sep 29, 2005 #1
    I recently read an article that stated that the Arctic ice cap is melting at a geologically rapid rate and that the air temperature over the North Pole is doing the same. The link is below:


    I was wondering if any data have been collected regarding CO2 concentrations by hemisphere. Is it possible for CO2 concentration to be greater in the northern hemisphere than the southern, since the majority of industrialized nations are in the northern hemisphere? Or is CO2 concentration equally distributed over the globe?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2005 #2


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    From what I've read on the forums here, CO2 concentrations are equally distributed. Also, the idea of global warming from CO2 emissions by humans seems to be a media hype with no real scientific evidence.

    Read the entire topic and links in the post titled: "Key Argument for Global Warming Critics Evaporates"
  4. Sep 29, 2005 #3


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    http://www.climate.unibe.ch/gallery_co2.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  5. Sep 29, 2005 #4
    No, that's Andre's spin on it. He spends so much time promoting that view here, that any reasonable individual with anything else going on in their life won't be able to debunk it all without abandoning their spouses and children and work. He also uses "bait and switch" and other tactics to keep from putting any single item to rest.

    If you get your news from a single source, you will not be seeing the objective picture. ("Physics Forums" would qualify as a single source. An individual on Physics Forums, even moreso.) My advice to you, Deckart, is to read the scholarly articles and decide for yourself what the consensus is, and why the data supports it.

    Even Bush says that human emissions contribute to warming.

    (The website asked that I respect copyright. If you wish to find it, enter the keywords "bush admits anthropogenic CO2" and take the third hit.... or do your own search!)

    To the original poster: CO2, in mylimited understanding, does appear dispersed over the planet. So here's a question for you: What is the single most distinct feature of the poles?

    If we lose that feature, what might happen to temperatures at the poles?

    in other words, is warming likely to be more pronounced at the poles than in other regions?

    if you have trouble with these questions, I'll post again.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2005
  6. Sep 29, 2005 #5


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    Good link. I summize from those charts that the amount of CO2 is rising 1 ppm every year. The chart I was looking at started from 1955 - present and the average is extremely linear. That's what makes me wonder if it is a natural event or a man-made event.

    Excuse the sarcasm but I just had a thought. I could fill a small room with 1 million pennies then take a picture. And every year I could open the door and throw a penny in it for fifty years. Then take another picture and compare them. LOL

    OK, the truth is the difference is 340 ppm in 1955 and 370 in 2005. That is a change of 8% in 50 yrs. If the trend continues another 50 yrs we are looking at 16%. So over 100 years there is a change of 16%. Does this create the "Green House" effect so worried about? I'm have not convinced... yet. Is this a natural or man-made phenomenon? I don't know.
  7. Sep 29, 2005 #6
    The debate is more involved than that.

    For one thing, the ppm back in 1850 were around 250 - 270 (IIRC). For another thing, there are more GHG than just CO2. There are additional factors, such as climate dysjunction and others, the point is the question isn't solely CO2. For another thing, there are unquestionably natural cycles like warming and cooling oceans (multidecadal cycles) that affect temperature measurements.

    Your penny analogy is not the best (sorry) - we are talking parts per million..... and the amplified effect of raising those ppm 5 or 10 or 20 or 40%. Now, you may think 5% "sounds safe enough" and you may think 40% "sounds like it might be a problem..."

    But the people best suited to determine whether 1% or 80% or something in between is a problem... are the atmospheric chemists and physicists. That isn't me, and frankly it isn't you. If you stick to your "sounds safe enough" approach you need to acknowledge that you are going with gut instinct, not science.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2005
  8. Sep 29, 2005 #7


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    pattylou... you bug me. I hear this nagging little voice in my head when I read your posts. You seem to have assigned me to some "enemy" category in your little brain. You've insulted, Andre, because he doesn't agree with your political views not because you have any idea of how he is coming to his conclusions. And, he obviously knows what he is talking about.

    The reason I added the third paragraph is because I am trying get a fair perspective of the topic. And, who the hell are you to tell me that I'm not qualified to come to rational conclusions from data? For crying out loud, woman. :bugeye:

    I've looked at these graphs and I don't see anything that refers to the year 1850. I may be wrong (give me a link please) but I have trouble believing they had equipment able to determine particulates of gases in the atmosphere in parts per million in 1850.

    Anyhow, could you tone down your emotions and argue facts instead of straight opinion, for the sake of this thread? :wink:
  9. Sep 29, 2005 #8
    You said you're a student on another thread.
  10. Sep 29, 2005 #9
    I don't know Andre's political views. He isn't American, so I don't pay attention.

    More in a minute...
  11. Sep 29, 2005 #10


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    I've never said that I am a student. I've been out of school and working as a hydraulic systems designer for a number of years.

    Anyway, until you have something constructive to say, I'm not responding to your posts.
  12. Sep 29, 2005 #11
    I deleted this post because you aren't a student, but it did have some bits in it.

    Anyway, show me where I expresed emotion. And consider your use of the phrase "your little brain."
  13. Sep 29, 2005 #12
    Oh. I thought you were a student. Sorry. It makes sense that I sounded condescending, to you, given that you're not 18 years old but I thought you were and so on.

    Look we got off on the wrong foot. Try reading through the thread again, with me in the part of "woman who mistakenly thinks Deckart is a young student."

    Or something like that. We are certainly capable of civilised discourse, and I for one am all for it.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2005
  14. Sep 29, 2005 #13
    I was wondering if anyone has measured differences in concentration by region. It would make for an interesting investigation to see if CO2 is more concentrated in the northern hemisphere vs. southern.

    The most distinctive feature of the poles is that they are white, which means that some solar energy is reflected back into space. A cascade scenario could potentially play out in the future:

    1. More anthropomorphic CO2 emissions --> warmer Earth.
    2. Warmer Earth --> melting poles.
    3. Melting poles --> less albedo.
    4. Less albedo --> more solar energy input.
    5. More solar energy input --> even warmer Earth.

    Of course, evaporation and cloud cover could change with the warming Earth, and could even increase the albedo to the point that the Earth may actually cool down (maybe even an ice age?). How accurate are these scenarios?
  15. Sep 29, 2005 #14


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    Ok, then, you brain is no longer little to me now :biggrin:

    But, now I have to ask, what's with the condescending attitude toward students? (Other than they can be cocky little know-it-alls?)
  16. Sep 29, 2005 #15


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    This really is the BIG question. Does increased CO2 directly cause, all factors considered, global warming. It is no question in a controlled enviroment there is a warming effect but with all the many factors involved, is it the cause of global warming? The polar ice caps have been recending long before we were a civilization. Are we a factor? If so, could the results be catastrophic, or very minor?
  17. Sep 29, 2005 #16
    In my understanding, the poles will warm faster relative to other areas of the earth, because they are losing their reflective snow, as you say far more eloquently. And your link looks like a link I was reading the other day (yesterday?) on Science Daily:


    Another conributor to warming at the poles may be the huge quantity of biomass frozen in the tundra, which is now more readily available for decomposition leading to a localised release of methane and CO2. Presumably this would disperse, although I don't know how quickly. Also presumably it would be seasonal. We ought to be able to measure it - and perhaps since we haven't seen reports on this sort of seasonal increase in the arctic (have we?), perhaps it is quickly dispersed. (I am familiar with reports that show a burst of CO2/methane following wetting of dry soils, due to a burst of decomposition, but this doesn't address the dispersal question.)

    I'm sure you're aware that the oceans appear to have absorbed "most" of the CO2 that we have generated. (I don't know the exact percentage offhand but 50-70% rings a bell.)<begin utter speculation> Thus, it would seem that there *is* some spatial divvying up of the CO2, at least between the oceans and the atmosphere, and perhaps (?) if the oceans are absorbing a fair amount, then maybe (?) there are localised pockets.... of slightly higher or lower levels, depending on the chemistry at the ocean/air interface....</end utter speculation>

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Tangentially, we did spot an interesting article in Science today, I'll start a new thread so as not to hijack yours.
  18. Sep 29, 2005 #17
    I'll make that the focus of my meditation tonight.
    Odds are that's what I'll come up with.
  19. Sep 29, 2005 #18


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    We have --- see the link to NOAA's CO2 data. The seasonal dependendence is such that the high Arctic concentrations are seen in winter.
  20. Sep 30, 2005 #19
    Thanks, bystander. I do sincerely appreciate that.

    So CO2 *isn't* evenly dispersed?

    Also, your reply sounds like the peak in the winter has been demonstrated to be due to the biomass decomposing (by virtue of the fact that you responded directly to that - in my quote.) Does NOAA make that claim, or are we starting to mix apples and oranges here? I don't know your views on the "debate" or your educational status or anything - so if I sound condescending please forgive me.

    It appears that you latched onto "seasonal change in GHG" without appreciation for whether or not that seasonal change has been demonstrated to be due to increased decomposition in the arctic. As far as I know, we do not have a sense as to how much biomass is now available for decomposition relative to ten years ago, for example.

    Is this characterization more or less on the money?

    I went to your earlier link assuming that was the NOAA CO2 data you mentioned. Which graph should I look at? There are about 8.

    Nothing in this post is intended as anything other than a desire to keep the discussion focused and data-based.
  21. Sep 30, 2005 #20


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    http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/gallery/ccgg_figures/co2rug_mlo [Broken] looks to be the current active link to NOAA. A latitudinal-seasonal variability of 10s ppm in a 300 plus ppm total concentration is as uniform a distribution in a dynamic system as you're going to see, given that the residence time in the atmosphere is 3-5a, comparable to an atmospheric mixing time of 2-3a (last time I checked).

    The Arctic winter isn't noted for high biological activity. If you check around on the NOAA-CMDL site for methane "rugs" you'll notice the same pattern --- peak concentrations at high latitudes in the dead of winter. Your other hint for understanding the seasonal variation is to note the inversion of the pattern at the equator, i.e., peak concentrations during the Austral winter, and the smaller amplitude of the seasonal oscillation in the southern hemisphere.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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