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Do forests drive wind and bring rain? Is there a major man-made climate driver the models miss?

...

Clouds over Amazon forest (Rio Negro). Image NASA Earth Observatory.

What if winds were mainly driven by changes in water vapor, and those changes occurred commonly in air over forests? Forests would be the pumps that draw in moist air from over the oceans. Rather than assuming that forests grow where the rain falls, it would be more a case of rain falling where forests grow. When water vapor condenses it reduces the air pressure, which pulls in more dense air from over the ocean.

A new paper is causing a major stir. The paper is so controversial that many reviewers and editors said it should not be published.  After two years of deliberations,  Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics decided it was too important not to discuss.

The physics is apparently quite convincing, the question is not whether it happens, but how strong the effect is. Climate models assume it is a small or non-existent factor. Graham Lloyd has done a good job describing both the paper and the reaction to it in The Australian.

Sheil says the key finding is that atmospheric pressure changes from moisture condensation are orders of magnitude greater than previously recognised. The paper concludes “condensation and evaporation merit attention as major, if previously overlooked, factors in driving atmospheric dynamics”.

“Climate scientists generally believe that they already understand the main principles determining how the world’s climate works,” says Sheil. “However, if our hypothesis is true then the way winds are driven and the way rain falls has been misunderstood. What our theory suggests is that forests are the heart of the earth, driving atmospheric pressure, pumping wind and moving rain.”

Judith Curry has been following this idea for some time.

Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, an author of the standard textbook Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans, is encouraging. “The process they describe is physically correct,” she said. “The main question is its relative magnitude compared with other processes.” She thinks it could explain why climate models do not get monsoons and hurricanes right.

If this is a strong driver, it means Australia is not covered in arid land because rainfall is low. If the trees were planted the rain would fall:

“I would have said Australia is a desert because of the global climate cycles, but if you do the calculations, a forest across the surface of Australia would produce forces strong enough to water it and you wouldn’t need to irrigate.”
 Sheil said.

Even New Scientist admits this paper could be a big one.

The implications are huge. “In standard theories, if we lose forests the rainfall in the continental interiors generally declines by 10 to 30 per cent. In our theory, it is likely to decline by 90 per cent or more,” says Sheil.

[New Scientist, Fred Pearce]

True Greens will surely be torn

If the paper is right, it’s a reason to plant many more trees, but it diminishes the role of CO2, shows the climate models are pathetically inadequate and is another reason why a carbon market, giant windfarms, and solar panels are a waste of time and money.

On Judith Curry’s site the authors are answering questions

Lead author, Anastassia Makarieva comes from the Theoretical Physics Division, Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, Russia. Douglas Sheil hails from Lismore NSW, and the School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University.

The authors describe getting it published as a two year epic.

It’s been an epic process – most papers get published (or rejected) in less than a tenth of that time. The paper is accompanied by an unusual Editor Comment (p. 1054) stating that in the paper we have presented a view on atmospheric dynamics that is both “completely new” and “highly controversial”. They accept that we have made a case to be answered: they clarify that “the handling editor (and the executive committee) are not convinced that the new view presented in the controversial paper is wrong.” That’s not exactly an endorsement but it is progress.

What is new?

We have described a new and significant source of potential energy governing atmospheric motion. Previously, the only such recognised energy source was the buoyancy associated with temperature gradients. Unlike the buoyancy mechanism, that applies to both liquids and gases, our new mechanism applies only to gases. Water vapor condenses and disappears from the gas phase when moist air ascends and cools. For this reason the water vapor pressure declines with height much faster than the other (non-condensable) atmospheric gases… (See Curry’s site for the equations and more theoretical background).

The authors explain why this is a big leap forward for models, and why models are not based on physical laws but are merely fitted to past data.

Fig. 1.  (Click to enlarge)

Models and physical laws

The physical laws behind all existing atmospheric circulation models are Newton’s second law, conservation of mass, the ideal gas law and the first law of thermodynamics. Here the first law of thermodynamics is assigned the role of the energy conservation equation (see, e.g., McGuffie and Henderson-Sellers 2001, p. 1084). However, while equilibrium thermodynamics allow the estimation of the maximum possible mechanical work from heat it provides neither information about the actual efficiency of converting heat to work (kinetic energy) nor whether such conversion to motion actually occurs. In practice, this means that models do not define these factors from physical principles but through adjusting model parameters in order to force it to fit observations (i.e., to produce the observed wind speeds). Mostly this pertains to the determination of the turbulent diffusion parameters. An
interested reader see p. 1776 of Bryan and Rotunno (2009) for a simple example (see also here for a discussion). The principle remains the same even in the most complex models.

Thus, while there are physical laws in existing models, their outputs (including apparent circulation power) reflect an empirical process of calibration and fitting. In this sense models are not based on physical laws. This is the reason why no theoretical estimate of the power of the global atmospheric circulation system has been available until now.

Fig. 2.  (Click to Enlarge).

 

Abstract:

Phase transitions of atmospheric water play a ubiquitous role in the Earth’s climate system, but their direct
impact on atmospheric dynamics has escaped wide attention. Here we examine and advance a theory as to how condensation influences atmospheric pressure through the mass removal of water from the gas phase with a simultaneous account of the latent heat release. Building from fundamental physical principles we show that condensation is associated with a decline in air pressure in the lower atmosphere. This decline occurs up to a certain height, which ranges from 3 to 4 km for surface temperatures from 10 to 30 C. We then estimate the horizontal pressure differences associated with water vapor condensation and find that these are comparable in magnitude with the pressure differences driving observed circulation patterns. The water vapor delivered to the atmosphere
via evaporation represents a store of potential energy available to accelerate air and thus drive winds. Our estimates
suggest that the global mean power at which this potential energy is released by condensation is around one per cent of the global solar power – this is similar to the known stationary dissipative power of general atmospheric circulation. We conclude that condensation and evaporation merit attention as major, if previously overlooked, factors in driving atmospheric dynamics.

REFERENCE

Makarieva, A. M., Gorshkov, V. G., Sheil, D., Nobre, A. D., and Li, B.-L.: Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 1039-1056, doi:10.5194/acp-13-1039-2013, 2013. [Abstract] [Final Revised Paper PDF]

 

Image Source: NASA Earth Observatory Sept 2 2006, Rio Negro, Amazon

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182 comments to Do forests drive wind and bring rain? Is there a major man-made climate driver the models miss?

  • #
    Ian

    looks as if Abbott’s proposal to plant more trees rather than have an emissions trading scheme might be an idea whose time has just arrived although perhaps not for the reasons initially thought. Interestingly and tellingly, Isaac Held of the NOAA recommended the paper be rejected saying “A claim of this sort naturally has to pass a high bar to be publishable, given the accumulated evidence, implicit as well as explicit, that argues against it.”

    The authors made a very appropriate comment saying “A higher bar for unconventional ideas automatically implies a lower bar for conventional ones,” they said. “Introducing a positive feedback – relating the height of the higher bar to the number of studies that have passed the lower bar – in time, if this continues, a once-vibrating scientific community can be trapped in dogma.”

    Looking at the abysmal way climate change proponents operate one can only say” Well ain’t that the truth”


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    • #
      michael hammer

      Ian I totally agree. It would indeed be ironic if Abbott’s proposal to plant more trees turned out to be far more appropriate a response than even he (or anyone else)realised. Wonder how Gillard would respond to that? The comment about the high bar is the same as the comment made some years ago in another context; ” extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”. As was pointed out then, that is wrong, they need exactly the same level of proof as any other claim, its just that obtaining the proof may be harder.


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      • #
        Dave

        .
        Plants have always been the ones that look after the land.

        Abbotts proposal for 20 million trees is not enough. It doesn’t even have to be trees?

        I would prefer a one hectare paddock full of weeds than one of bare soil. By using plants (of any sort) you reduce evaporation, increase fertility, reduce leeching of fertilizers etc, reduce salinity and protect the valuable water table. Nearly 40% of water loss comes from evaporation in Austalia – transpiration is less than 30%. The rest goes to storage or run off.

        This article highlighted by Jo is going to quash the opposition to Abbotts plan of planting trees etc. He should forget CO2 emmissions, RET, solar etc and concentrate on rebuilding the land through forestry, CSIRO, farmers, pastoralists etc etc with tax reduction for planting out Australia. The floods we have currently experienced in QLD are part of Australia as is drought. Windmils and solar panels are not going to help.

        The only true solution is the humble plant. I think it was in Mount Isa where a massive planting program was carried out in the 1960′s – the local climate changed considerably where by evaporative A/C’s no longer worked as efficiently due to the increase in humidity.


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        • #
          PaulM

          I would prefer a one hectare paddock full of weeds than one of bare soil.

          The problem with this argument is weeds are invasive species that compete with all other types of vegitation for water and nutrients and in the long term destroy the growth potential of soils. Much better to plant species that can reverse the existing problems, be they salinity, nutrient deficit or high clay or silt content. Put in practice measures that rehabilitate damaged soils, reinforce riverbanks/waterways and lead to increased growth potential of native grasses and other native plant species. After all they are the plant species that have evolved to thrive on this continent.


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          • #
            Dave

            Paul,
            The weeds only start because the soil lacks fertility or moisture. One crop of weeds initially can restore the soil for much better cover of pasture grasses the following season. The majority of weeds have deeper root systems and penetrate the soil, increase in biomass much faster, retain moisture and once mulched provide for a much better paddock.

            Spraying to kill weeds, then fertilizing and then seeding with native grasses is too expensive. Also the majority of pasture grasses now grown are introduced anyway. If natives are available by all means use them – but sometimes its quicker to let the local weeds rejuvinate the soil for you – For Free.

            If weeds were as bad as everyone makes out – they would have taken over by now. But instead they just exist in a small sections of time and space in the landscape until again it’s suitable for the locals.


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          • #
            PaulM

            The weeds only start because the soil lacks fertility or moisture.

            That is simply wrong, weeds occur as a result of cultivation which removes the existing hardy plant species and allow faster growing and more competitive species to get a foothold. They are weeds because they are more able to compete with the slower growing native species for water and nutrients. Whilst there are some species that are classified as weeds, that is a definition as a function of land use, not a botanical definition. They do not assist native species, they compete with them.

            Here is a list of noxious weed species in Australia, please point out one single area of this country that has benefited from these species becoming the dominant plnat species.


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          • #
            Dave

            .
            PaulM
            I am not advocating dominant weed plant species in paddocks or elsewhere – but simply using them in simple steps to rejuvinate pastures.

            It’s actually called Natural Sequence Farming – in fact Gerry Harveys Baramul Stud is a classic examlple of this method. Also the The Australian Story Part 1 and Part 2 are good viewing.


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          • #
            Dave

            .
            Sorry PaulM – but we’re both way off the subject – but none the less interesting.
            Thought this interview may be of interest also.


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          • #
            bananabender

            @Paul.

            Dave is correct.

            Most Australain soils have very low phosphorus levels. This makes it very difficult for most non-native plants to compete over the long term (decades/centuries) with native plants.

            Aggressive “weeds” are cultivated in many places to improve soil, provide fodder and prevent erosion. In many cases they have been deliberately introduced by scientists. eg:

            - prickly pear [North Africa]
            - gamba grass [Northern Territory]
            - Singapore daisies [Queensalnd]

            The much despised Singapore Daisy [ http://www.weeds.org.au/cgi-bin/weedident.cgi?tpl=plant.tpl&ibra=all&card=H55 ] is fast growing and forms a very thick ground cover. It was once widely grown in Queensland to prevent erosion in high rainfall areas. Singapore daisies will often smother other vegetation such as ferns along roadsides or creeks (it cannot grow shade). However Singapore daises can be very beneficial for restoring degraded land. Singapore daisies grow extremely fast and can provide a very moist and very fertile groundcover that is ideal for germinating rainforest trees (and shelter for small animals). The growing tropical trees tend to very quickly shade out the Singapore daisies.

            I spend a lot of time in the bush. One of the most noticeable things is that weeds are actually quite rare. They simply cannot compete with established native vegetation. Weeds will certainly grow in clearings or along sunny creek banks. However weeds will rarely penetrate more than a few metres into forests. In most cases native trees will eventually outcompete the weeds.

            If you visit the rainforest at Mt Cootha at Brisbane you will notice that there are relatively few weeds except along the walking paths. This is despite the fact that the entire forest is former farmland that has been allowed to naturally regenerate over about 100 years. The native vegetation has sucessfully outcompeted the weeds over the long term.


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        • #
          elva

          In that dubious book, “The Web Of Life” it describes how a barren landscape is transformed. The first ‘settlers’ are the hardy weeds. Thse make way for lesser plants and son until substantial flora is established such as trees.

          BTW, I don’t like the book because it makes too much about the proposition if one species dies or is eliminated then that affects all others negatively. This is not so. To follow Darwin’s theory another species would take the place of the vanished one. In short, the ‘web’ is a 3D model not a 2D one. Thus all the efforts and costs trying to save some rare endangered species is, imo, a waste of time and interfering with naure.


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        • #
          RoS

          I recall many, many years ago that a Japanese venture wanted to plant millions of trees in WA. They claimed that it would improve rainfall and was a way to green the desert. North of Laverton I believe. Surely there should be some references that can be found. I have often thought about it but could never find any follow ups.


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        • #

          Dave

          “I would prefer a one hectare paddock full of weeds than one of bare soil.”

          Then you have obviously never met African Lovegrass. One acre of that and it will never be controlled. If you dont believe me then do some research on Bredbo NSW. No actions of the most diligent private individuals has managed to stop its spread and definitely no government action has been able to.

          There are many other “weeds” whose control costs much more than the value of the land on which it stands. The land does NOT have to be cultivated for many invasive plants to spread. All “weeds” are not simple to deal with like thistles (whose seeds remain viable in the soil for over 15 years)

          I think your comment is simplistic and does not take into account the complexities of the issues.


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          • #
            Snake Oil Baron

            “We’re starting to notice when african lovegrass is left ungrazed, it goes into a period of senescence and it holds moisture underneath, it seems to be a good seedbed for old snowgums and candlebarks that previously haven’t been seeding.” –some guy quoted on a web page.

            Maybe the problem is trying too hard to defeat it when it is young. Has anyone tried letting it get old? They say it grows really well in acidic, poor quality soil. It might not stay acidic and poor quality if it were left to get old and die. Maybe these are not the answers but if all of the planet (it’s not exclusive to Australia) becomes a monoculture of lovegrass, I’ll admit I was wrong. If I’m still alive. Which I most likely won’t be by then.


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      • #
        David, UK

        The comment about the high bar is the same as the comment made some years ago in another context; ” extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”. As was pointed out then, that is wrong, they need exactly the same level of proof as any other claim, its just that obtaining the proof may be harder.

        The actual quote “An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof” (Marcello Truzzi) was later improved by Carl Sagan, to state:
        “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” This is known as the Sagan Standard.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan


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      • #

        I applaud the courage of these authors, the editors of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, you and Professor Curry for bringing attention to this important paper.

        I also appreciate the authors’ exact identification of the problem with post-normal science:

        “A higher bar for unconventional ideas automatically implies a lower bar for conventional ones,” they said. “Introducing a positive feedback – relating the height of the higher bar to the number of studies that have passed the lower bar – in time, if this continues, a once-vibrating scientific community can be trapped in dogma.”

        That practice has continued since 1946, when misinformation on Earth’s heat source was published and became the foundation of the standard solar model (SSM) – without public debate or discussion.

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel
        Former NASA Principal
        Investigator for Apollo


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    • #
      Albert

      It’s often been claimed with the deforestation of the Amazon the rains diminished.
      Gore said CC was causing the snows of Kilimanjaro to disappear when the record shows the snows reduced then returned with the deforestation and regrowth of the surrounding forest.


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    • #
      Manfred

      (Ian #1) Indeed, trapped in a dogmatic bog of confirmation bias (including those biases driven by politics, funding and institution), where ‘implied evidence’ (whatever that is) continues to stoke the fire of deluded and misplaced self-assurance, and any explicit evidence is ‘weighed’ against its coherence (Hill 1965) with the unfalsifiable meme.

      Well, could be we’re privileged to be seeing a Kuhnian ‘paradigm shift’. Here’s hoping.


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    • #
      Brett_McS

      I remember reading somewhere that geological evidence has shown that Australia used to be basically covered in forest. Forests definitely do draw moisture inland so planting trees will help create the conditions for more trees to grow.

      Besides which we may as well take advantage of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere, which is greening the world – even encroaching on the Sahara – as we speak.


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    • #
      Louis Hissink

      They are trapped in dogma, though in this particular case the cynic in me suggests as their present models don’t work too well, then this is the first straw they are grasping.


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  • #
    Backslider

    We conclude that condensation and evaporation merit attention as major, if previously overlooked, factors in driving atmospheric dynamics.

    This final comment makes it all sound like what we have had pushed towards us is all kindergarten stuff. I am astounded that such basic processes have been overlooked in the whole scheme of how climate works.


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  • #

    Winds are certainly generated to “fill the gap” where water vapour has been through a phase change back to water which was then precipitated. The falling water also has a cooling effect as it gathers energy by conduction from the lower layers of the atmosphere. In general, if the winds generated come in horizontally they would bring air of similar temperature, so all we are talking about here is weather events, not world-wide annual climate.

    In general, the main cells are caused initially by warm air rising by convection in the tropics, for example. This also leaves a “gap” to be filled, and it is filled by Trade Winds heading towards the Doldrums near the Equator. But the tropopause at the Equator is at about 17Km, and the height then reduces to about half that at the poles. The volume of the troposphere between any two lines of equally spaced latitude decreases far more rapidly as latitude increases, due to the circumference of the globe also reducing. Hence there is a “funnel effect” and winds that are generated above the Equator (when the rising air “squeezes” air towards the poles) then enter this funnel effect. The reducing volume explains how air gets back to the surface in the form of downward winds.

    In general, all these are weather events which average out over the whole planets. Yes, wind cells are more complex, but this “model” gives a reasonable understanding of the processes involved due to convection and, to some extent, phase change such as discussed in this paper.

    Doug Cotton B.Sc.(Physics) et al
    Sydney


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  • #
    Louis Hissink

    I recall reading last year an anecdote from the medieval English that the cutting down of forests will stop the rain.

    In addition trees and foliage also generate electrical particles, ie they seem to be conduits of internal charge to the atmosphere, and its the accumulation of atmospheric electrical charge that causes rain to develop. There are Russian firms commercially producing rain by ionising the atmosphere, I discovered last year from an internet search.

    This theory seems to be on the right track.


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  • #

    Yeah, a big gum is also a big water pump. Makes sense.

    Let’s really bring back the bush – but with strict fire and vermin controls. Tallowood country around here should be a koala paradise, not a delicatessen for wild dogs. Don’t tell me it’ll be expensive. Since 2007 I’ve learned what “expensive” is.

    Proper forest maintenance (with some exploitation), shiny new coal power generators…and dams! In a word: Conservation.

    Of course, everything depends on cheap, abundant energy from that wonderful concentrate of sunshine called COAL. Abbott needs to do a Merkel, and talk green while digging brown.


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  • #
    Kevin Moore

    http://www.forestclimate.org/desert-australia.html

    Sydney Morning Herald
    March 4, 2005

    Fewer trees, less rain: study uncovers deforestation equation
    By Richard Macey

    Australian scientists say they have found proof that cutting down forests reduces rainfall.

    The finding, independent of previous anecdotal evidence and computer modelling, uses physics and chemistry to show how the climate changes when forests are lost.

    Ann Henderson-Sellers, director of environment at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, at Lucas Heights, and Dr Kendal McGuffie, from the University of Technology, Sydney, made the discovery by analysing variations in the molecular structure of rain along the Amazon River.

    Not all water, Professor Henderson-Sellers said, was made from the recipe of two atoms of “common” hydrogen and one of “regular” oxygen.

    About one in every 500 water molecules had its second hydrogen atom replaced by a heavier version called deuterium. And one in every 6500 molecules included a heavy version of the oxygen atom.

    Knowing the ratio allowed scientists to trace the Amazon’s water as it flowed into the Atlantic, evaporated, blew back inland with the trade winds to fall again as rain, and finally returned to the river.

    “It’s as if the water was tagged,” she said.

    While the heavier water molecules were slower to evaporate from rivers and groundwater, they were readily given off by the leaves of plants and trees, through transpiration.

    “Transpiration pumps these heavy guys back into the atmosphere.”

    But the study showed that since the 1970s the ratio of the heavy molecules found in rain over the Amazon and the Andes had declined significantly.

    The only possible explanation was that they were no longer being returned to the atmosphere to fall again as rain because the vegetation was disappearing. “With many trees now gone and the forest degraded, the moisture that reaches the Andes has clearly lost the heavy isotopes that used to be recycled so effectively,” Professor Henderson-Sellers said.

    Tom Lyons, professor of environmental sciences at Perth’s Murdoch University, said there was now “certainly very strong evidence that changes in surface conditions have an impact on the climate. In some parts of the world the impact is very marked”. The Amazon research “helps us understand the mechanism”.

    Professor Henderson-Sellers said the average water molecule fell as rain and re-evaporated fives times during its journey from the tropical Atlantic to the river’s starting point in the Andes mountains. Forests played a vital role in keeping the heavy molecules, and their far more common relatives, moving through the water cycle.

    “People will tell you that when you remove the forests it rains less,” she said, adding, however, such anecdotal evidence, and even computer modelling, did not convince everyone.

    “This is the first demonstration that deforestation has an observable impact on rainfall.”

    http://abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2007/2073363.htm

    Native trees key to cooling climate
    Dani Cooper
    ABC Science Online

    Tuesday, 30 October 2007

    Extensive clearing of native trees is making Australian droughts hotter and is an under-recognised factor in climate change, research shows.

    The study by researchers from the University of Queensland and Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Water shows that land clearing made the 2002-3 drought in eastern Australia 2°C hotter.

    The research, published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also found average summer rainfall has decreased by between 4-12% in eastern Australia and by 4-8% in southwest Western Australia because of land clearing.

    These are historically the regions in Australia that have been most extensively cleared of native vegetation.

    Dr Clive McAlpine, of the university’s Centre for Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Science, says about 13% of the Australian continent has been cleared of native vegetation since European settlement in 1788.

    However, in many agricultural areas in eastern Australia and southwest Western Australia more than 90% of native vegetation has been cleared.

    “This study is showing Australian climate is sensitive to land clearing,” he says.

    “And our findings highlight that it is too simplistic to attribute climate change purely to greenhouse gases.

    “Protection and restoration of Australia’s native vegetation needs to be a critical consideration in mitigating climate change.”

    What’s the impact?

    Dr McAlpine says the research used the same modelling system as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to determine the impact of land clearing.

    It simulated climate scenarios for the country using data on pre-European settlement vegetation coverage and 1990 vegetation coverage for Australia.

    This showed more than 150 years of land clearing had added significantly to the warming and drying of eastern Australia.

    He says native vegetation plays an important role in moderating climate because it is deep rooted, which leads to more moisture evaporating into the atmosphere over a longer period.

    This is then recycled into the environment as rainfall.

    Native vegetation also reflects less short-wave solar radiation into the atmosphere than crops, which keeps the surface temperature cooler and helps in cloud formation.

    Looking to the future

    McAlpine says the findings should help in the development of policies to deal with the effects of climate change.

    “The first thing is we need to protect what vegetation remains,” he says.

    “We also need to carefully consider in regions such as Queensland where there is a lot of regrowth how we protect that so we are not leaving the landscape vulnerable.

    “And we need initiatives in southern Australia to restore native vegetation.”


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    • #
      Rick Bradford

      Anecdotal, I know, but the farmers round here (eastern Thailand) are convinced that the planting of rubber trees 50 years ago has led to considerable increased rainfall, making the whole area more productive.


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  • #
    Kevin Moore

    Is there a major man-made climate driver the models miss?

    From issue 1 of CSIRO’s ECOS magazine 1974

    An urban heat island

    When you build a city you change the local climate.Concrete, asphalt, and stone absorb and store heat more efficiently than vegetation and loose soil; buildings and other structures affect wind speeds and atmospheric mixing; and factories, cars,and many other things eject vast amounts of heat.

    The result is what meteorologists call an urban heat island. On a mid-winter’s morning the temperature in the centre of Sydney is likely to be 3-4°C above that on the outskirts; this temperature difference is characteristic of big cities world-wide.
    Much needs to be learnt about the causes and effects………….


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  • #

    I support the large scale planting of trees in some locations, not because of the ‘carbon sink’ aspect, but because forest pushes the boundary layer upwards, so tends to result in an increase in rainfall. Turns out the concept is controversial …

    (I was naive about the ‘carbon sink’ aspect. There was never any intention to do a “Green Corps” type response, eg go out and plant 400 trees per person. Just ‘lock up’ existing vegetation, claim ‘credits’ etc.)

    To me, this study is a bit like researchers re-discovering the bleedin’ obvious, like aspirin prolongs the life of cut flowers etc.

    Caution is needed of course. More rain falling in one place does not necessarily mean more rain – could mean less rain somewhere else.

    Boundary layer effects are very obvious in cyclonic areas. Even in the open savanna woodland around here (19°S), trees are far more likely to be felled or damaged on the edges bordering open land than within the treed area. Enough trees, and the boundary layer is pushed up above them. Same with normal winds and residential development; airflow at ground level starts to reduce when building density rises above 29% and is absent when the percentage goes above 40. The airflow is all above roof-top level.


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  • #
    Sonny

    PLANT TREE FARMS INSTEAD OF WIND FARMS !!!

    LESS CO2 MORE O2 !!! EVERYBODY WINS !!! WOO HOO !!!


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  • #
    Peter Miller

    I don’t know how relevant this might be, but 30 years ago I had a drilling business in South Africa. A few of our drills were percussion ones for groundwater.

    After a few years operations, we used to write in our protocols that we would not be responsible for pump failures if the water wells were located within a 75 metre radius of a poplar or eucalyptus tree. You cannot believe how quickly the root systems of these trees can spread in the search for water. I remember one instance of a hole around 50 metres from a gum tree in which the water table was at a depth of around 70 metres. It took about 3-4 years for the roots to get down to the submersible pump and strangle it.

    I think this indicates something pretty obvious, tree roots in forests can access huge amounts of water that would otherwise not be quickly recycled into the atmosphere. The process of transpiration is potentially awesome depending on the tree species and availability of groundwater.

    It is perhaps worth remembering that one of the earliest methods of draining swampland was by planting eucalyptus trees.

    The bottom line is transpiration by trees increases humidity and – all other things being equal – this should increase the likelihood of precipitation.

    While deserts at the same latitude will be hotter than jungles during the day, they are much cooler at night. Jungles are darker than deserts and therefore will reflect less energy back into space. On balance, this should mean tree rich environments should have a higher average temperature and humidity than barren areas, which in turn means an increased likelihood of intensification of any low pressure systems which might be developing.

    Bottom line: forests are an aid to greater rainfall.

    Man made irrigation systems are probably having the same effect.

    Any of this in alarmist climate models? Don’t be silly!


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      Peter Miller

      My apologies, I think I just used a flawed alarmist argument by mistake:

      “Jungles are darker than deserts and therefore will reflect less energy back into space. On balance, this should mean tree rich environments should have a higher average temperature and humidity than barren areas.”

      Higher humidity through transpiration should mean a greater likelihood of rain, and that of course means more clouds. And even the alarmists admit the fluffy white tops of clouds reflect energy back into space making things cooler. As anyone knows who has been in one, tropical thunderstorms can have a dramatic localised cooling effect.

      So that means more (lots more!) trees will reduce local temperatures. So deforestation should mean rising temperatures, and reforestation lower temperatures.

      So what has happened to global deforestation trends in recent times? Answer: the global deforestation rate in 2000-2010 is about 35% lower than in 1990-2000, so the rate of global deforestation has dropped dramatically – however, in Asia, the Caribbean, North America and Europe the forests have expanded! See official UN figures:

      http://foris.fao.org/static/data/fra2010/FRA2010GlobaltablesEnJune29.xls

      The recent slowing of the rate of global deforestation may be partly responsible for the flat lining of global temperatures over the past 16 years. If so, there could be an argument for AGW, but one based much more on forestation trends than those of CO2.

      One thing for sure about our global climate: What we don’t know is a large multiple of what we do know. Alarmist climate models are a biased reflection of some of what we know, hence their inaccuracy and unreliability in forecasting anything.

      Once again I make the comment: “Any of this in alarmist climate models? Don’t be silly!”


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        Dave

        Peter

        So simple and I forget who said the quote:

        Plants are the lungs of the earth

        Yet Tim Flannery thinks the solution is the following
        1. Seeding the worlds atmosphere with Sulphur.
        2. Building millions of killer windmils.
        3. Building Geothermal sinks to supply electricity – how did this turn out TIM?
        4. Drive a rare Earth Toyota Prius.
        5. Create a global Supa Organism Gaia?
        6. Put solar panels on every house? Only work when it’s sunny.
        7. Charge $23 per tonne of CO2 emmitted and keep it for your own benefit – buy house at low water mark.
        8. Become part of the EARTH GAIA – as one should.

        Has this guy Tim missed something in his travels or just found a new drug called MONEY$$$$$


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        Ian

        Nice post Peter Miller (8.57pm) Surprising how we “all” think (thought?) that trees grow where rain falls but never (well I certainly didn’t) thought about the converse that rain falls where trees grow. From the ferment on Judith Curry’s blog, where the authors have been answering questions and being berated by the alarmists for taking the time and trouble to do so (why are the alarmists so bloody arrogant, condescending and rude?). The alarmists are not at all happy campers at the moment. Naturally they think this research is all fklawed rubbish and doesn’t conform and why is there no code etc etc. Early days yet but looking through the posts it seems that farmers and not only in Australia, have been aware for many years that plants bring rain. Fascinating stuff that the alarmists instead of discrediting out of hand should seriously consider and analyse. Will they though? Unlikely


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          Peter Miller

          Thanks Ian

          There is one very important point here: in areas of relatively low rainfall, high transpiration rates for trees (potentially providing the tipping point for rainfall) have a pre-requisite of their roots being able to have access to groundwater. In soft sediments, groundwater may be too deep for roots to access. In hard rock environments, tree roots need to locate water bearing faults and fractures.

          The bottom line is this: before planting a new woodland or forest in a low to modest rainfall environment, you need to look at the availability of groundwater.

          As a general rule of thumb, just about anything the alarmists try to discredit usually makes good old fashioned common sense.


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      Snake Oil Baron

      From what I have heard about desert irrigation, there is indeed an increase in rainfall and native vegetation downwind of the farms.


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    gnome

    Forests won’t grow where, historically, forests didn’t grow. After the last ice ages most of Eurasia and North America were devegetated and the forests there regrew. Australia lost less vegetation and didn’t grow forests.

    We’ve always had a lot of scrub which grows where forests won’t grow, and planting trees won’t alter that.

    The weather can’t differentiate between forests and scrub. Why should it rain more on forests than on scrub?

    Clearing scrub or forest causes the same problems.

    Academics at play. There’s a real world out here.


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      Dave

      Absolutely correct.

      Just one thing though is the biodiversity reduced about 50,000 years ago, and introduced a fire tolerant forest (excluding tropics) of Eucalyptus, Banksia, Acacia etc – and so we need to start planting numerous other species also especially deciduous species (introduced) instead of the oil laden Eucalyptus etc.

      The government is still paying landowners and grants to different green group for removal of weeds on millions of acres of land. The management of land is in the control of plants – not governments or windmills. GREEN councils are telling householders to get rid of exsisting trees and plant water wise natives in the cities. What a lost cause these GREEN Criminals are – the UHF just gets worse with this. They tell us not to plant lawns but replace with gravel, one Banksia in a pot and two dwarf lillypillys? The lawn (100 sm) supplies enough O2 for 3 people over a 24 hour period. This new GREEN agenda 21 is wrecking the Australian environment. The old house across Australia used to have a central path with vegies, and fruit trees growing in the front yard – what a solution to a lot of things.


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        Dave, I’ve spent years establishing moso bamboo over a broad acreage. I’m not mentioning it here to promote it – I’m way past that – but there are circumstances when forests ought to be exotic, not “native”. This year, I had a horror spring, obviously, but at last I mastered the natural lacto-pickling of shoots (the few that I got). What a taste revelation! (And one component, chlorgenic acid, is supposed to have a role in diabetes treatment.) None of this is world-changing, but moso is useful, it’s edible, it stabilises…and it forms cool, open forest on marginal slopes.

        I look at the adjacent state forest behind me and wish it could be a koala sanctuary rather than a home to wild dogs and cats. But I don’t see it as any more “natural” than what’s on my land. And my land will be capable of producing human food by the tonne, without fertilising or irrigating. Plus, as I said, moso is forest, up to 100 feet high, plus it yields timber and fibre (if you have support industry).

        Dave, you make an important point about antiquated green dogma on what belongs and what does not. In fact, we are ourselves exotic, and I wouldn’t be without humans, now way.


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          Dave

          Robert,
          A man of true understanding: Phyllostachys edulis – massive growth of a plant in such a short space of time – I saw one grove in SE QLD nearly 20 meters high – huge. They prevent evaporation around creek and rivers – and prevent salinity problems. I have a mate with a grove of Gigantochloa atroviolacea the Java giant black bamboo – I have one piece as a surf rod for my trips to Rainbow.

          without fertilising or irrigating

          The most important part of this is your plants are doing it for you – well done.

          AND “we are introduced also”:
          The GREENS all forget this along with the thousands or so other animals and plants we’ve introduced along the way. Yet they want a monoculture of Eucalyptus and Grevillea for feel good reasons only.

          And on chlorgenic acid as a a role in diabetes treatment – there will be more to come on this (bamboo shoot sconsumption in asia & diabetic rate).

          Willows that are banned by the Natural Heritage Council, Landcare etc also contain a type of natural Aspirin and cattle/horses from properties that have willows are healthier than those from ones that don’t.


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        PaulM

        Forests evolve and develop as a complete ecosystem, with a vast array of interconnected and symbiotics relationships.

        Your analysis of Eucalypt forests is simplistic as it ignores two critical points.

        1) Eucalypt forests have the highest diversity of any type of forests when you consider the soil bourne bacteria and fungi, the number of insect and animal species they support etc.
        2) Eucalypt forests come in two forms, wet and dry sclerophyll and cover everything from low shrubs to tall trees.

        A forest is a complex ecosystem with a vast range of natural management mechanisms.

        I would point out that germination in Dry sclerophyll forests in Australia is a function of fire, Eucalypt forest fires contribute to soils carbon levels through the charcoal produces and helps reduce the acidity of soils and adds potassium to the soil at the same time as it binds with silt and clay particles and increases the friability and water retention of soils.

        Another thing I would point out is that Eucalypts evolved on this continent between 35 & 50 million years ago, where the last ice age was only 10 000 years ago.

        Lastly, on this continent, the distribution and type of forest is more a function of soil type. There are over 700 species of Eucalypts native to this continent that have evolved to thrive in the various soil types that dominate this continent. As the continent ages, and the soils wether the type and distribution of plant species will also change, as will the ecosystems they support. If there is any other example needed to show the folly of introducing foreign plant species into the Australian forest ecosystems you need only look at the effect of the introduction of European Lantana species.


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          Dave

          PaulM,

          You are correct regarding the composition of Ausralias current forest and woodlands etc.
          But 60,000 years ago plus the Australian landscape was very different with much more biodiversity than now. It comprised nearly 1/3 palm, 1/3 Eucalyptus etc, and 1/3 conifers. It was a vastly different place to what we have now. Many of the Eucalptyus have gained the upper hand only because of fire introduced by man some 50,000 years ago.

          The majority of Lantana infestations are actually in National Parks, State Forests etc that constantly supply new infestations to neighbouring agricultural and pastoral land. The hydrology of Australia is now so changed that salinity, erosion etc is a problem that can still be rectified if done the correct way.


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            PaulM

            Just one thing though is the biodiversity reduced about 50,000 years ago, and introduced a fire tolerant forest (excluding tropics) of Eucalyptus, Banksia, Acacia etc

            This was your assertion.

            Eucalypts evolved on this continent between 35 & 50 million years ago

            This shows that your assertion is demonstrably wrong.

            When your post starts with an assertion that is demonstrably wrong, all that follows is meaningless.


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            Dave

            PaulM

            Species evolution and species domination are two completely different things.
            Eucalyptus etc starting dominating 50,000 years ago – they evolved 40 odd million years ago.


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            I’m surprised that more people don’t use lantana as a transition. I’m gradually replacing all lantana with a climax species, but I wouldn’t be without it as a host. I should add that this does not apply to most other weeds, and that I have a technique of trampling or weakening lantana as the climax species moves into it that is basically an organic solution to lantana. (In case anyone interprets this as a defence of noxious weeds, my method gets RID of lantana quickly and for good.) For forestry and orchard, just bruise the stuff continually till it disappears. Don’t hack, dig or poison it. A wall of impassable lantana can be clear forest floor in a couple of years.

            In paddocks, of course, it just has to be eliminated fast, by any means available. However, I find lantana to be a superb soil improver and transition species for broad acre bamboo – the best!


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            GregS

            I can agree about the Lantana infestations.

            I have some land that borders onto a piece of council owned watercourse and am regularly having to cut out incursions of Lantana that comes out of the council owned land.


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      Albert

      After 1900 there were areas bordering the Sahara where the vegetation was so thick one would need a knife to pass through it. After that forest was cleared, the sand claimed it and it never returned nor did the rain. There was a system in balance and we interfered with it, we had to take the lot and we now have a permanent expanding desert.


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      Snake Oil Baron

      “The weather can’t differentiate between forests and scrub. Why should it rain more on forests than on scrub?”

      It is conceivable that forest species release aerosols which are more effective at condensing water in the atmosphere because they benefit from the rain more that scrub species since they would not want the extra competition which more rain would bring. Maybe microbes which live on and near trees have spore forms which are more adapted to provide nucleation sites for water drops. Since they encourage the forest growth which they are most adapted to. Maybe not but like I said, it’s conceivable until it’s ruled out.


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    janama

    Nice to read that what you have intuitively thought is actually correct.


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    Shub

    Amazon researchers have known this. The forest makes the rain.


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      Cookster

      Agreed. I’ve read many times that deforestation in Indonesia has caused drought and upset the local monsoon there. I think another example is reduced snowfalls on Mount Kilimanjaro. I was of the opinion that the effect of deforestation on local rainfall was self evident. I’m actually suprised to discover here that this is in scientific dispute and that the climate models don’t factor this in.


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    With regard to re-forestation, we have to be wary of aping the mechanistic, Big Lever solutions of the climate luvvies and the GetUp Left. I say this because our most urgent needs are water from dams and electricity from modern coal power facilities, not tree plantings. There is already so much regrowth in my region that managing forests is more of a problem than planting them.

    There have been droughts before tree clearing, and mega-droughts in pre-history. Re-forestation is one good idea. Irrigation may be another.

    We’ll still get droughts in Oz. It’s what we do. We’ll need to store water and generate power efficiently, and that means confronting Environmentalism while practising Conservation.


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      Hasbeen

      Well said Robert.

      I am getting worried about the level of rapture appearing about this. I have all ready seen greenies calling for the protection of any forrest/vegetation, using this as a support.

      From research I have read we all ready have more trees in Oz than at white settlement. They may not be good or useful trees, but there are more. Why aren’t they drawing all this rain?

      Yes much of the extra trees is infill growth, thick rubbish forests/jungles, where the aboriginals had developed open woodlands with their fire sticks. Secondly to be useful forrests must be on the right land. Not much use attracting rain, if all the good land is under forrest, & not available for productive use.

      Thirdly please ease the rapturous excitement. The great barrier reef cores, drilled many years back now, produced evidence of droughts that make any recent droughts look like a minor dry spell. Some were as bad as anything seen since white settlement, but spanned 25 years.

      I have often wondered when we might get a drought like that. However it does show that huge droughts occured long before any white man clearing commenced.

      Just as an aside, those cores also showed flood events that make anything we have seen look like a small damp patch.

      I have always liked very open wood lands for grazing. The right mix of trees reduce hot dry wind speed, helping reduce their drying effect, but also reduce frost damage in a cold snap.

      Then they also act as a nutrient pump in light soils, bring nutrients up from deep below grass roots, washed down there by heavy rainfall, & dropping it on the top again.

      However I am also terrified of any government tree regulation. If farmers can’t control the regrowth as required, we would see the same effect that has seen improved pasture treated as virgin woodlands, preventing the maintenance of pasture, resulting in those useless thickest appearing all over Queensland, & other states.

      Yes I’m a fan of trees, but please dont go overboard with this bit of research. It is no golden bullet.


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        Hasbeen, re-forestation is a wonderful idea and a terrible dogma (like all wonderful ideas). As Dave has pointed out, people who make a fetish of native species have not thought things through. Farmers and conservationists have to deal with both exotic and native species in environments that did not exist before white settlement. Our modern undergrowth in “native” forests is especially strange, as you’ve pointed out. We are trying to handle different fauna, different fire regimes etc while catering to the fetishism of green rhapsodists who only know one thing for sure: people are a pest.

        I recently walked through a vast re-forestation area in a hillier part of Spain’s meseta. It was done very ambitiously and with care, whole hillsides having been micro-contoured. Okay, it was done pre-crisis with somebody else’s euro-money, but at least it was done. They might have frittered the money on more ludicrous wind “power”, so one can’t complain. Eventually, there will be forestry and hunting in those bare hills. While vast areas of Oz can indeed be conserved as “native”, we ought to look at many other options as well.

        But, really, before any progress is made, we have to wipe the green goo from our minds and get back to Conservation.


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        Byron

        “I am getting worried about the level of rapture”

        Good comment Hasbeen , scepticism seems to have gone temporarily on hold over this . From what I can make out of it forests are a precipitation modifier that has been vastly underestimated rather than a overall driver


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        Another Ian

        Hasbeen

        We’re over-endowed with the Peter Beattie Sacred Weeds and haven’t seen any sigh of the moisture supposed to be forthcoming.

        A note on assumptions of tree cover and temperature. It has been my discovery from vehicle temperature gauges that, on a hot W Qld day, the vehicle runs cooler on open plain country than where the road is going through treed areas. Obviously the wind is the same, but boundary layered over the trees.

        So, is it actually cooler under the shade of your saddlecloth on a fence on a grassy plain than under a tree in a mulga forest?


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          Dave

          .
          Another Ian,

          Humidity will effect both your car radiator and engine resulting in higher running temperatures. Especially if you have turbo or super charger etc. Engine & radiator temperatures will run hotter in higher humidity even though the temperature outside is the same.

          But I wouldn’t sit in a wattle mulga with no wind – it would be shocking. No evaporation!

          I’ll take the saddlecloth on the fence on a windy day anytime over the mulga. :)


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    Alfred Alexander

    Plants Rule the Earth!!!!
    Animals are to work for them.
    Alfred [;{)…


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    Dave

    When water vapor condenses it reduces the air pressure, which pulls in more dense air from over the ocean.

    When water vapour condenses around small forest & bush areas you end up with a much higher water content and less evaporation from the ground from shading (trees, scrub etc) because of the cooling effect – and if the area is not being cleared or interfered with it tends to spread rapidly – even in western areas away from the coast.

    Nature itself will cool the world more rapidly than any CO2 Tax or renewable energy ever will.

    Nice One, JB, MattyB, Catamon, Maxine, SillyFilly cannot change nature with the money they demand for CO2 emmissions. They are part of the biggest scam on earth – when in reality the plants rule the earth. The trolls are just criminals parasites on the environment


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    Beth cooper

    Here in beautiful ivanhoe, a garden suburb of Melbourne,
    where a few years ago, we had back yards with fruit
    trees and in the front garden rose bushes blooming,
    now blocks of flats and concrete, double garage
    monoliths covering the block are more the norm.The
    tribute ter nature,a couple of spikey plants on the
    patio. When it rains, like yesterday’s downpour,
    there’s nowhere for the rain to go except down
    the drain. We still have a little forest at my
    joint, popular with the local birds.


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      Considerate Thinker

      Same here Beth, in the days when Melbourne gardens ruled, we had enough water for lawns, gardens, and abundant fruit trees just a few kilometres from you. I have no doubt that in itself this watering combined with the UHI footprint of Melbourne and increased atmospheric take up of moisture probably helped the Dandenongs and Gippsland forests to flourish.

      Sadly restrictive watering regulation, sky high added service charges, make it impossible to maintain that style of garden we had grown accustomed to. Not only that the conservators of the day dictated that we needed colonies of fruit bats, that now devastate fruit trees and eat anything else, like elm tree buds, at crucial times in the year. What is left in flowers and vegetables must be wire netted as the abundant possums will eat them to the grown, as well as the green tree shoots if they can’t find anything else.

      The bats and possums do leave abundant manure deposits and plenty of stinking urine over our cars, oh and we can’t deprive the possums and Bats of free range access. On a positive note, that manure and urine, might create a new environment hostile for humans and solve our traffic jams.

      I really miss our lush gardens, and don’t look forward to the inevital further increase of water charges due to a moth balled over expensive desal plant, that they expect this generation to pay for. I thought the politicians told us that the dams were to drought proof Melbourne so we paid up then but no one built dam’s to keep up with population growth for no other reason but appease the greens.

      I would not have minded them building a 3 million dollar dam, rather than the multi millions as the extended pay off for the Desal plant.

      So I commiserate with you.


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    Beth cooper

    Hmm …looks like a concrete poem, the mouse’s tale.)


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    It is nice to see climatologists discussing relative magnitudes. In other areas they ignore this problem, a or misrepresent. For instance, they talk about ice melt in gigatonnes (Gt), without translating it into actual sea level rise.* Or the impact of the lack of recent warming on the projected relative magnitude of future warming.

    The effect of reduction in forest is well known. In Southern Brazil where large areas of forest have been cleared for farming, the climate has got drier. This is certainly perceived by the long-term residents of the area. Another area is impact of the reduction in trees in the C20th century on the snows of Kilimanjaro.


    *1GT of water = 1km2. So this will raise the level of a 1 million Km2 sea by 1mm. Total area of oceans about 325 million Km2. So 325GT ice melt = 1mm of see level rise.


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    Carbon500

    Let’s not forget the missing work which should surely have been done before the CO2 scare started – an artifical atmosphere to study both the separate effects of varying concentrations of CO2 and water vapour, plus an investigation into how they might react together, if at all, in the air.
    And yes, I know about and have copies of Professor John Tyndall’s work from the late 19th century. I’m thinking about an updated model, using modern instrumentation.
    This seems reasonable to me given that CO2 is water soluble – in other words, I’m talking about a real model atmosphere, not calculations in a computer.
    Water and CO2 are generally thought of as separate entities – but what really happens in the atmosphere?
    For example, I’ve often wondered what happens to CO2 concentrations in the area covered by a rainstorm.
    Finally – a paper ‘so controversial that many reviewers and editors said it should not be published’?
    That’s pathetic – if the basis appears reasonable, it **** well should be published and discussed.
    Have the editors of science magazines become so spineless that they’re afraid of a bit of controversy? No wonder the whole CO2 saga got such a grip.


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    Jaymez

    I have always puzzled about why much of the Middle East is so dry when we know that it used to be covered in forests and grasslands. Yes climate change happened, but not to the same degree at the same latitude around the globe.

    We do know that early civilisation developed quickly in the Middle East. We know there were some crazy projects such as the building of the great pyramids which took around 30,000 workers around the clock 30 years to complete (off the top of my head). That’s a lot of trees chopped for heating, cooking, scaffolding, building materials, and so on and I don’t suppose they had the foresight to plant trees to replace the ones they felled.

    Similarly all around early civilisation Middle East, in the forests and grass lands trees were felled for building materials or fuel, and any younger trees are likely to have been eaten by the goats, sheep and cattle grazing to feed the masses. Deforestation could have brought about their own climate change.

    A similar story may have hit the civilisations which are known to have disappeared in south america due to prolonged climate change. The areas where they disappeared from were once wooded but are no longer.

    I’m with Judith Curry, I certainly think this paper is a piece of the jigsaw puzzle and it is a question of what level of magnitude forests of lack of them have of formation of winds and rain. This should just act as another reminder that the science is far from settled and the Climate Models are pretty much worthless.


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      John Brookes

      And no doubt, Jaymez, there were people back then saying, “I’m not sure chopping all the trees down is a good idea”.


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        Jaymez

        Totally agree John. I don’t think you will get much argument here. You appear to assume that a person who questions the dodgy climate alarmist ‘science’ which blames the majority of any recent climate change on human greenhouse gas emissions, would be a supporter of chopping down our forests. Well I hope I am wrong in interpreting your comment that way. In my experience most ‘climate skeptics’ would be delighted to see more forests protested and more trees planted because there is an undeniable environmental benefit from doing so. Though I think we would also support compensation for landowners who have restrictions placed on what they can do with their land, which were not previously in place and which impact on the commercial value of their property.

        I have been an educated rather than radical conservationist for a long time. Personally I am fortunate to have been able to support reforestation since 1986 when I first started and financed my own reforestation project and I have been involved ever since. I have reforested land in the north west and south west of WA, and in South East NSW. All laboriously planted to local native species. I am not totally altruistic in this approach. I hope to achieve financial self sustainability through commercial rotational cropping with many of the species allowing for coppicing and therefore quick re-growth. But I only apply this approach to areas which I rehabilitate not areas of existing natural growth forests.

        I also provide ongoing support to http://www.rainforestrescue.org.au/ to purchase and rehabilitate and preserve rainforrests in Australia and Indonesia. I have been involved with this organisation for years and highly commend them to readers who want to do something practical to help the environment rather than the scandalous wasteful pojects the Government and The Greens are supporting including costly, inefficient renewable energy projects and carbon trading which has been and will forever be open to emissions.

        As it is even in Indonesia, we (Rainforest Rescue) have to employ security guards to protect government gazetted protected forests from logging by corrupt local businesses who are supported by corrupt local officials!

        But just to get another plug in – Rain Forest Rescue is a very sound conservation organisation providing tax deductible status for Australian donors.


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    Roy Hogue

    Which came first, the tropical forest or the rain to water it?

    Another chicken and egg problem to solve… It seems too simple to assume that if you planted trees all over Australia (or anywhere else) the rain would come to water them.


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        Byron

        WTF 4 red thumbs for that comment ? When Mattb , John Brookes or the yapping thing come out with catastropharian dogma , go ahead shoot `em down but just marking them down because they`re them IS AN EXAMPLE OF F#@%ing Tribal Groupthink


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          Roy Hogue

          I agree with Byron.


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            Roy Hogue

            Let me see here…ummm; MattB and Byron both get red thumbs but I don’t. As I see it the situation is like this:

            1. I made a statement which no one has a problem with.

            2. Matt agreed with me and he got disliked 8 times so far.

            3. Byron called attention to the obvious hypocrisy and was also disliked by someone.

            4. I agreed with Byron but no one has a problem with that.

            Are there only two of us who see the problem here? Or is it only the two of us who care? Is it really OK to knock someone for agreeing with a statement you have no objection to? What motivates this behavior?

            Please, I can’t see any way we can complain about someone else’s house if we can’t keep our own house in order.


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            Mattb

            Roy… ignore the thumbs up and down. There are some real morons around everywhere you go in the world.


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            Roy Hogue

            Matt,

            True. But that doesn’t mean I have to suffer them endlessly without comment.

            Believe me I pay no real attention to them most of the time.


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        Jaymez

        Of course you would initially have to irrigate, perhaps from the massive artesian waters.


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    john robertson

    But even though the connection between forests and rainfall sounds right and confirms a personal bias, I do wonder, is this a part of the glibbering climb down of the climatologist religion?
    Are we about to be told abandon Carbon dioxide fears, plant forrest frantically or we will all fry?
    From save the planet to save the trees is no big step, or retreat as it was save the trees 30 yrs ago.
    I have no trust to extend to the practitioners of climatology.
    Individuals might be producing genuine science and replicable results, but I am still sore and vengeful.
    Where is my scapegoat, for the abuses of the last 30 years?
    Move the UN to Haiti?


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      John Brookes

      For some time, changes to land use have been apportioned part of the blame for global warming.


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        Mattb

        I guess, John, when it comes to land clearing being really bad news, at least “It’s worse than we thought” :)


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        sophocles

        For some time, changes to land use have been apportioned part of the blame for global warming.

        Yep, as in: site a thermometer, in its Stevenson Screen in a nice rural paddock.
        20 years later, build an airport around it.
        Pave the runway.
        Blow hot air from the jet exhausts over the thermometer.

        Hold up the higher temperature readings as proof of global warming.

        Resite the thermometer to a better/proper location?
        Eh?


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          Byron

          Nailed it Sophocles ,
          Another bit of sophistry They like to try on is “but it`s been an airfield since temperature readings started being taken there”

          Of course They don`t like mentioning that the airfield has gone from a paddock with a windsock and two sheds with a Curtis “Jenny” flying out every other day to something like this


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      Bite Back

      Move the UN to Haiti?

      No, move it to that other place beginning with “H”. That’s where it belongs.


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    Dr K.A. Rodgers

    Hasn’t some sort of relationship been established – or is is only specualtion – regarding deforestation around Mt Kilamanjaro and the size of the snow field? I vaguely recall Professor Pielke Sr had something to say on this matter.


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    Entropic man

    Western Amazonia is in extended drought as less water vapour crosses the Andes. East amazonia may lose water as deforestation continues.

    If these two effects are positive feedback processes, have we already lost the rainforest?


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    J Martin

    Australia has a lot of coal, so in those locations there were once large forests. Do those locations still have large forests ?

    Perhaps the arrival of man made fire turned Australia into the giant desert it is today.

    Replanting would be a great idea if it could be done, but you would need to do it during a wet thirty year cycle like the one that has just started. Considerable resources would need to be given to irrigation for some time.


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      John Brookes

      But perhaps Australia was in an entirely different position on the globe, with an entirely different climate.


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        Kevin Moore

        John Brookes

        You allude to continental drift but if the universe is expanding could not the Earth be also?

        Is there any intelligent life in charge of this world?

        Monty Pythons “The Galaxy Song”

        Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
        And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
        That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
        A sun that is the source of all our power.
        The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
        Are moving at a million miles a day
        In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
        Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.
        Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
        It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
        It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
        But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
        We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
        We go ’round every two hundred million years,
        And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
        In this amazing and expanding universe.

        The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
        In all of the directions it can whizz
        As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
        Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
        So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
        How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
        And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
        ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.


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        Richard the Great

        Entirely correct, JB. Most of Australian, South African and Indian higher rank ‘black’ coals (not lignites) are mainly Permian age. These land masses were part of Gondwana and in very southerly latitudes. When the galciers retreated as the landmass moved away from the pole, the land was colonised by relatively cold climate woody plants. When Gondwana broke up India carved off and moved into the northern hemisphere. Other northern hemisphere coals tend to be younger (Carboniferous) and derived from plants that grew in much warmer climates.


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    Rodzki

    Interesting article, Jo. I remember my mum, back in the mid 1970s when I was at high school, telling me about the work of Richard St Barbe Baker and his theory that trees drove rainfall. He hypothesised that the Sahara could be reclaimed by systematic tree planting. Presumably the same could apply to Australia.

    I remember particularly because I wrote a school essay based on this concept of trees driving rainfall, only to have my teacher correct me in red saying “surely you mean the other way round”. St Barbe Baker died in 1982, so the idea has been around for a while.


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    Neville

    This is O/T I know but I thought I’d post this here as well.

    I hope everyone here may find the time to look at Lomborg’s address to the CIS about the projected limits to growth BS from the 1970s.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zdz2NeAmMtg

    Just about everything these idiots forecast has been proven wrong. His best quote is “poverty equals pollution”.
    The near empty fridge scenario and aluminium and iron ore etc are spot on as well.

    This was the first Neville Kennard address and is preceded by a short talk about his life and business career etc.
    Neville was one of Jennifer Marohasy’s friends I think and Jennifer had a post there at the time of his passing.


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    RobH

    Another aspect of this which is overlooked is that trees are extremely good at retaining and slowing water movement in the landscape by providing ground shade, covering the ground with moisture retaining litter and dropping branches in creeks, creating natural dams. This is why when we destroy a rain-forrest it’s extremely difficult for it to grow back.
    Trees have been blamed for centuries for sucking the water out of the landscape but they play a vital part in the hydroculture.


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      Hasbeen

      This idea also has to be tempered with a few considerations.

      Every time I loose another 30Mt by 30Mt chunk of river bank, it is always caused by another tree, undermined by a flood, falling into the river, & the resulting swirl pattern taking a huge bite of my back paddock.

      My fence, built along the top of the bank to keep my stock off the river bank, is like a dogs hind leg, due to bits of it going down to Morton bay each flood.


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    J Martin

    The coast of Africa bordering the Mediterranean was once forested and was cut down by the Romans. Never to recover ?

    I think it has been suggested before that attempts should be made to replant that area.


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    Is this really news? I have known for years that cutting down rainforest leads to a decrease of precipitation. I know examples in Cote d’Ivoire and Madagascar.

    That is the main reason why I didn’t trust the climate models that predict a savanne climate for the Amazon with increasing temperature. The savanne climate is caused by deforestation, not by warming. Typical example of cause and effect mixup.

    Xinyu Zheng, Elfatih A. B. Eltahir, The response to deforestation and desertification in a model of West African monsoons, Geophysical Research Letters Volume 24, Issue 2, pages 155–158, January 1997, DOI: 10.1029/96GL03925

    deforestation along the southern coast of West Africa (e.g., in Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast) may result in complete collapse of monsoon circulation, and a significant reduction of regional rainfall.”


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    Barry

    Australia’s history seems to point to the truth of this theory. Your readers may remember that your old friend Tim Flannery, who is now adored by the Left because of his book The Weather Makers, was not too long ago reviled by the Left for theorising in his book The Future Eaters about the destructiveness of indigenous populations across the Pacific. His book (I have not read it but saw the TV series) pointed to the fact that Australia was not the dry continent it is today but was once heavily forested, and the destruction of those forests, and the mass extinction of the mega-fauna, may have coincided with the arrival of the first humans on the continent. At the time leftists emphatically denied any such link, because, as we know, the Left have ruthlessly used ‘such matters’ as a political tool to drive their anti-development environmental agenda. This page on ‘their ABC’ might be a useful reference.

    Furthermore, as other contributors have already pointed out, your readers may recall that during the 90s the declining snowfall on Mt Kilimanjaro was attributed to lower levels of water vapour in the air as a consequence of the deforestation of lower slopes of the mountain by humans. But, then, as we all know too well the Left hijacked the issue and redefined it as another example of the effects of ‘global warming’.


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    Water Wizard

    Trees filter the water. Particulates (from fires) in the air form rain droplets. A source of potassium and nitrogen for plants. Transpiration from the underside of a leaf raises the relative humidity and lowers the temperature. None of this is new. If its not in the current climate models, why not?

    The process of evaporation over an ocean remains unknown. Its not as simple as the water “boils” in a turbulent pressure layer. Something else happens. Some input occurs that is yet to be officially discovered. An element in the sea water causes the atmosphere at the seawater air boundary to be low enough to “boil” water at 28 degrees.


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  • #

    I’ve noticed in my travels that people in the rest of the world burn stuff we would leave lying about – you don’t have to look further than trendy Tuscany! Do those who resist fossil fuels really think people are not burning everything they can get their hands on?

    Just because the carbon dioxide from combusted shrubs, twigs and dung isn’t quantified for tax purposes doesn’t mean nothing was burnt. I’m guessing the number of people engaged in such energy production is in the billions.

    Now, our Green Betters, in love with easeful death, no doubt think that forced reduction of population is the answer. Like all green ideas, this is bunk. Desperate people breed desperately. Well provided people do not breed enough. (Not noticed, this global phenomenon of naturally low breeding First World peoples?)

    I don’t mind Bob Brown having a bit of atmosphere at home with a wood fire. But there is no point in trying to stop desertification when people are feeling cold, or need to cook and clean, and have nothing but what the desert fringe grows.

    We start with cheap, abundant energy for all Aussies, as a birthright. Then we stretch it to the rest of the world. Being all middle class and prosperous won’t make people happy? It will if you add “grateful” after “prosperous”.


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    RoHa

    It wouldn’t surprise to learn that it’s the trees. I’ve never trusted them.


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    RoHa

    It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it’s the trees. I’ve never trusted them.

    (Edit fucntion so we cloud fix our typos would be ncie)


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      Byron

      One problem with an edit function is that the temptation would be there for people to re-edit their statements to say something completely different than the original post and throw the replies out for the whole thread . Given the penchant that certain climastrologists have for “adjusting” data I have no reason to believe that Their acolytes would display any more integrity .


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    Have a look at satellite images of clouds across the whole globe at http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/sat-bin/global.cgi
    Notice the streams of cloud originating in the equatorial forest regions (SE Asia-Indonesia, Congo, Amazon/carribean) and streaming away towards the mid latitudes.

    This paper makes a lot of sense.

    Ken


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    Kevin Moore

    Restoring Fertility

    Helping men perform better in bed could rejuvenate Alxa’s grasslands – and make locals richer than ever. Erik Nilsson reports.

    The planting of congrong – an herb infused into boozy tonics that traditional Chinese and Japanese medicines use to treat male sexual dysfunctions – has been crucial to decelerating the deserts’ conquest of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region’s prairies.

    Congrong has been used in Chinese tonics for millennia to remedy impotence, ejaculation difficulties, groin and knee wounds, and infertility – basically, anything that could afflict a man’s nether-regions. Its health benefits were documented by Shennong – the legendary herbalist, “Divine Farmer” and deified doctor from whom mythology says all Chinese descended about 5,000 years ago.

    Congrong grows as a parasite on the roots of suosuo, a plant used to reverse desertification.

    After a decade of planting thousands of hectares of suosuo, the Tengali, Badanjilin and Lanbuhe deserts have slowed their encroachment into the Alxa grasslands in Inner Mongolia’s northwest.

    About 60 herdsmen-turned-farmers have planted the cash crop over the past decade through the Japanese NGO the OISCA Institute for Alaxa Ecology’s suosuo project, which provides seedlings, funding and knowhow…..

    http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2012-12/05/content_15988303.htm


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    IcebergTip

    Good grief, soon the establishment will be publishing one of the hundreds of papers that challenge biological evolution!
    No, how ridiculous. That would threaten innumerable vested interests.


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    rukidding

    O/T But.

    CSIRO & BOM tell us

    Hottest year start keeps climate change in spotlight

    Yet none of the capital cities recorded a max mean for January.

    Sydney 26.8
    Melbourne 27.3
    Brisbane 30.5
    Hobart 23.1
    Perth 30.6
    Darwin 30.7
    Adelaide 30.4

    This new Australia wide temperature should be called for the deception it is.


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      Backslider

      Add Alice Springs mean to that also (39.9 – no record), just so we don’t forget the red centre :)


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        John Brookes

        Alice had 17 consecutive days over 40C. That was a record.


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          Backslider

          If you take the time to look at all the data, it will only show you that we have approached the warming of the nineteenth century and thus we are heading toward another cooling. That’s the facts rather than alarmism.


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            Grant (NZ)

            From my little weather station (very unofficial) I note that we have had a very wide range in temperatures – the mean of the minima has been lower than 2007 and 2008. Likewise, while the max temp has been higher than in other years the mean of the maxima was lower than 2007 and 2008. Cherry picked to blazes but you can see how a suitably motivated analysis of the data will yield (eventually) the desired result.


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    Streetcred

    “At present the models are incorrect,” he says, “because they are missing one the key mechanisms of how the global climate works. I know it does sound amazing to say this, but once you look at these models they are not as detailed and not as smart as you would think.

    “A lot of it is, they are calibrated to fit. There is a little bit of people hiding the problems, and that is bad science.”

    What else need be said? The models have no credibility and thus anything based upon that lack of credibility is by an order of magnitude a bigger load of shite.


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    bananabender

    Conventional land rehabilitation via agressive weed clearing and tree planting is extremely expensive and often very ineffective (the trees frequently die once the artificial watering stops). [A local land care group in Brisbane has spent most weekends for about three years trying to "rehabilitate" an area of creek bank. Despite their massive effort they have only managed to "repair" an area about the size one house block.]

    The simplest and most effective way to revegetate a large area is simply to fence it off. Once an area is free of grazing the vegetation will regrow remarkably quickly. The area will soon be covered with weeds. The weeds will stabilise, fertilise and condition the soil. This provides a microclimate for tree seed germination. The weeds will eventually be shaded out and outcompeted by native vegetation.

    If you visit the Mt Cootha area of Brisbane you will see very thick bushland. Yet it is all natural regrowth. The entire area was clear-felled in the 19th century. [A single tree at the very top was left - hence the old name of "One Tree Hill"]


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      Grant (NZ)

      They are not weeds. They are adventitious pioneering species.

      It’s amusing that we regard the most successful pioneers in our vege plots as weeds when they show up in a regeneration situation.


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      mullumhillbilly

      … > revegetate a large area is simply to fence it off
      Fence-and-forget is only cheap if you don’t count beyond year 1, if you overlook the lost opportunity for making some productive use of a ~natural landscape, and if you overlook the problems it can create. In large under-managed landscapes, feral pests of all sorts will increase, as will fire risk, and there is no material yield such as wood, grazing, flowers, food etc. In most cases, natural regeneration in mainly cleared landscapes or landscapes with derelict low vigour remenant trees, is slow and unreliable compared to the alternative of more actively planting and management of multi-purpose blocks. However I’d agree that fencing is effectve for land rehab in smaller enclosures, eg around clumps of reasonably healthy partial forest with regen stocks. In the Mt Cootha case, I think you may be underestimating the remnant lignotubers that were present.


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    bennyg

    The fact that this has been published does not mean it disproves all previous theories and observations. In fact:

    Editor Comment. The authors have presented an entirely new
    view of what may be driving dynamics in the atmosphere. This
    new theory has been subject to considerable criticism which any
    reader can see in the public review and interactive discussion of the
    manuscript in ACPD (http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/
    10/24015/2010/acpd-10-24015-2010-discussion.html). Normally,
    the negative reviewer comments would not lead to final acceptance
    and publication of a manuscript in ACP. After extensive deliberation however, the editor concluded that the revised manuscript
    still should be published – despite the strong criticism from the
    esteemed reviewers – to promote continuation of the scientific
    dialogue on the controversial theory. This is not an endorsement or
    confirmation of the theory, but rather a call for further development
    of the arguments presented in the paper that shall lead to conclusive
    disproof or validation by the scientific community. In addition
    to the above manuscript-specific comment from the handling
    editor, the following lines from the ACP executive committee shall
    provide a general explanation for the exceptional approach taken in
    this case and the precedent set for potentially similar future cases:
    (1) The paper is highly controversial, proposing a fundamentally
    new view that seems to be in contradiction to common textbook
    knowledge. (2) The majority of reviewers and experts in the field
    seem to disagree, whereas some colleagues provide support, and
    the handling editor (and the executive committee) are not convinced
    that the new view presented in the controversial paper is wrong.
    (3) The handling editor (and the executive committee) concluded
    to allow final publication of the manuscript in ACP, in order to
    facilitate further development of the presented arguments, which
    may lead to disproof or validation by the scientific community.

    It always amuses me that the “anti” side of the debate leaps on these isolated published articles that cast some doubt on AGW as if they prove beyond doubt what they want desperately to believe, yet they ignore the 10s of 1000s of published articles that support AGW.


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      llew Jones

      It always amuses me that the “anti” side of the debate leaps on these isolated published articles that cast some doubt on AGW as if they prove beyond doubt what they want desperately to believe, yet they ignore the 10s of 1000s of published articles that support AGW.”

      The “anti” side is not influenced by the “tens of thousands of papers” that cannot scientifically explain real world observations that invalidate the claim that AGW exists. e.g.s the apparent stasis in global temperature anomalies when human CO2 emissions are increasing. And of course the mystery of the missing “hot Spot”.

      What most skeptics see in this paper is not about global warming per se but a possible cause of decreased precipitation and a possible solution.

      Its relationship to AGW dogma is that that dogma, in the face of global temperatures not doing what the models based on dogma predict, has without any scientific basis attributed droughts and floods and any other scary scenario, the dogmatists can think of, to AGW.


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      Backslider

      This is not an endorsement or
      confirmation of the theory, but rather a call for further development
      of the arguments presented in the paper that shall lead to conclusive
      disproof or validation by the scientific community.

      Now if only they would do that with AGW, we might make some real progress……


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    • #

      And you, Mr Anonymous BennyG, ignore the many papers based on valid physics which rebut any AGW effect.

      How about you get back to trying to explain in any other way to the way I have, how the thermal energy gets into the surface of Venus?

      You have no empirical proof that there would be any climate forcings by carbon dioxide, because climate forcings are all natural and primarily from extra terrestrial sources over which mankind has no control. The laws of physics fully explain this, showing how surface temperatures relate to such things as the level of Solar insolation, atmospheric height, gravity and the mean specific heat of the atmospheric gases, and that no greenhouse effect has been responsible for raising Earth’s surface by 33 degrees or the Venus surface by about 500 degrees.

      I suggest you also read this* peer-reviewed journal paper which, you may note, refers to the thesis which the author wrote for his PhD in Climatology back in 1998. No one has successfully rebutted his work with valid physics. Either be the first to do so, or stop propagating the greatest scientific mistake of all time, because it’s going to cost many lives. Think on that, even if you have a vested interest in maintaining the hoax.

      * http://ruby.fgcu.edu/courses/twimberley/EnviroPhilo/FunctionOfMass.pdf


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      Ian

      Yes BennyG but that’s just the point. The sceptics, who you seem to think are muddled fools are quite OK with looking at stuff from all over the place and adding it to their store of knowledge. Alarmists like you however have closed minds where no light is allowed to fall. Your over riding mantra is “the science is settled” despite the fact the science is ever rarely settled. Why don’t you accept that the climate models are programmed by humans not god like beings from some superior planet. Tell me BennyG and don’t pike out and not answer, do clouds have a negative or positive feedback on global warming? Models are programmed to say positive but observations suggest negative. Why are you and your ilk so closed minded?


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    J.H.

    Deifying forests still… Sounds like more Greenie ecocultism to me.

    Plant trees and prostrate ourselves before them …..and the rains will come. If only we would shirk off all material possessions and run naked through the desert planting trees…. a green nirvana would arise… etc and so forth, just make your check payable cash.

    Nah. Not buying it…. Once again a grain of truth wrapped in an entire narrative of ecofascism.

    Europe used to be covered in forests. England used to be covered in forests…. Mostly those great Oak forests are gone now, but it still rains plenty from what I see. According to their hypothesis, if the forests fall the rainfall lessens. The forests grow the rainfall increases……… Well that doesn’t seem to hold up with Europe.

    Do trees have an effect on rainfall…. Yes.

    Will planting tens of millions of them where none grew before turn a desert into a rainforest…. No.

    I am skeptical of the magnitude of their stated effect.


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    Nice One

    Even New Scientist admits … Fred Pearce

    LOL


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    Geoffrey Cousens

    Right or wrong[the study] its wonderful to see the knee jerk reactions of the green extremists,panicking in their irrational rush to smother this work.


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      Considerate Thinker

      My conclusion too, I reckon Dana “Nutsitelli” will be working up a lather fitting some construct to defend their awful “science” rather than manning up that there are things they don’t know about atmospherics and climate, but never mind I am sure they will make up something for the gullible to hang onto.

      General comments on other sites are quite positive to the issues raised. If the paper does nothing else, it will stimulate scientific ideas and theories other than the meme of dangerous C02 and high climate sensitivity that just doesn’t now fit with the data or the physical science.

      I think James Annan in his rethink, is looking for some middle ground rather than the extemes “Cooked up” by those attempting to maintain a false consensus “the one that never was” and, this paper is a good catalyst for others to take a closer look at where they stand on the C02 is the evil driver, sinking ship.


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    JMD

    source of potential energy governing atmospheric motion. Previously, the only such recognised energy source was the buoyancy associated with temperature gradients.

    Is this really the case? I’d have thought one decent thunderstorm would be enough to convince anyone of the potential energy of atmospheric moisture. I also don’t see forests having much influence on the belts of high & low pressure that correspond to latitude. That’s not to say they don’t have an influence.

    Also, as someone living in a region not noted for extravagant rainfall, I can tell you the problem is not planting trees, but getting them to grow, and this area is hardly a desert.


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      Hasbeen

      I’ll drink to that JMD.

      When I bought a rather abused turf farm, for a horse property, I put in some internal fences, & planted a few hundred trees along these as shelter & windbreaks.

      Running into a dry period, I installed a watering system to keep my trees alive. I kept about half of them alive, only to have most of these survivors die of root root, when the dry was followed by a couple of very wet years.


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        JMD

        Such is life. If it helps ease the pain, I’ve had trees kark it only weeks after planting, and planting is a big job here with the need for fencing strong enough to withstand half a tonne of cow.


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    RWTH

    Wow!! What a giant piece of thought, perhaps we can green this continent after all…


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    Errol Read

    Well maybe it’s worth increasing efforts to re-afforestate large areas of land, starting in areas where forest traditionally has existed, while at the same time keeping farming industries afloat. That could mean planting trees as thickly as possible along farm verges and round the edges of fields. Then, these areas could be gradually extended from the edges outwards, using watering programs to assist initial growth.

    If these extended areas resulted in more rainfall, we’d know we were on the right track. It could also be that, once forest areas have reached a “critical mass” then the extra run-off produced makes it easier for forests to spread without much extra planting or watering.

    It would be nice if it were true, but it’s worth giving it a try. We seem to have such enormous amounts of rainfall these days in the north and east that special dams and levees to divert and catch some of this could be devoted to forest watering programs in the drier areas.


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  • #

    [...] firms are the way to go. In point of fact the overwhelming consensus among scientists is the planet is being destroyed by Green House gases. Oil, Coal, and to a lesser extent Natural Gas are the primary culprits. Let me be clear fossil [...]


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    john robertson

    Whether forests cause weather is almost chicken and egg stuff, but the water retention value of forests for keeping streams flowing year round and constraining run off are well known.
    Our ancestors liked to burn the forests, it pushed back the night and renewed grazing which improved hunting.
    And if the wind was right it improved the neighbours.
    Where is Attila the Stockbroker these days? I like to sit and watch things burn.
    There might be a reason forests keep getting crisped, it appeals to our dark side.


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    John Smith101

    Clear away the forests and woodlands, or vegetation in general, and over a relatively short period of time you dry out the landscape with corresponding rises (and falls) in extreme temperatures, and reductions in relative humidity and rainfall.

    For example, the eastern wheat-belt in Western Australia has less rainfall than the uncleared wilderness country lying immediately to the east, even though there is an overall natural trend of rainfall to decrease from west to east. This is a direct result of the removal the surface roughage (the tree layer) that provides transpired moisture and helps create low-level atmospheric turbulence. Also, vegetation clearance has altered the albedo or reflectivity of the ground surface by replacing relatively dark native vegetation with relatively light cereal crops. This results in less heat absorption by incoming solar radiation and consequently less low-level turbulence as that heat is re-radiated. Low level turbulence is an integral part of the rainmaking process.

    This is not rocket science. Clear the landscape, remove the surface roughage, change the albedo and dry out the countryside upwind and you get less rainfall. The solution is quite simple and could be achieved in one to two generations: re-vegetate the landscape.

    As Nature constantly self-renews this process can be readily and cheaply achieved through unassisted natural regeneration rather than the much more expensive assisted regeneration (tree planting, etc), the latter of which is prone to high levels of failure due to the vagaries of rainfall or inadequate water supplies. Just by leaving some land unfarmed or ungrazed (this would require fencing) Nature herself will eventually re-vegetate that land for free, with results likely to be apparent within five years, even during times of drought.

    A growing tree and shrub layer increases surface “roughage” and absorbs more heat, both important components of rain-making in the moist stable airflows typical of the rain-bearing winds of winter and spring in southern Australia, the rains that provide the essential moisture to most of our cropping and improved pasture lands. The “roughage” creates mini-turbulence near the ground as the moist winds pass over, turbulence that is transferred into the atmosphere to help rain to fall.

    By re-vegetating the countryside and returning moisture to the environment we can minimise the effects of drought, help induce rainfall, reduce our salinity levels, maintain and increase biodiversity, and increase productivity on our good quality agricultural and grazing lands.


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    Streetcred

    Forests of trees versus forests of solar panels ? One envigors the environment and the other desecrates the environment.


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    janama

    I wonder if the size of the trees counts. In my area in Northern NSW according to the history when the first settlers arrived, via Tenterfied, there were huge trees, around 4-5/acre with open grass land below, you could ride a horse from Casino to Tenterfield. Similarly with the Big Scrub rainforest that stretched from Mullumbimby to Lismore. Of course the settlers cut them down and burnt them. Now its rows and rows of plantation trees and macadamia nuts or dense eucalypt and camphor laurel forest. Perhaps the bigger, older trees with their deeper root systems would act as stronger pumps and draw more rain.


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      mullumhillbilly

      Hey Janama,
      In a given set of temp, humidity, soil water potential etc conditions, plant evapotranspiration is proportional to leaf area index LAI, the leaf area per unit land area.

      LAI can be up to 6 in a dense forest, and 10 in some crops and say 2-3 in short grass or sparse forest. So the the size of maccas and camphors (and even lantana) don’t matter so much to water volume turnover, it’s the total regional LAI that counts. The abundance and type of forested land cover in the whole landscape is probably the more crucial driver.

      I do agree that tree size counts for other reasons, and we need to maintain, and encourage more big trees and healthy forests into the landscape.


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    Dave

    .
    Slightly O/T but:

    Report in Sunday Mail 03/02/2013,

    I cannot find this on the internet anywhere:

    “Aggressive creek clearing in the wake of the 2011 floods has contributed to silt problems at the Mt Crosby water treatment plant and may have added to flood levels. Australian Rivers Institute deputy director Jon Olley said yesterday it was impossible to quantify the precise efects tens of kilometers of clearing had on the Lockyer, but there was only one place for floods and sediment to go, and that was downstream.”

    Seems revegetation is the solution.
    There is no indication of who did the clearing of this area. The reporter was Brian Williams – Environment Reporter for Sunday Mail.


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    Geoff Sherrington

    This paper, which I will study more closely, has 3 of my personal pet peeves working in its favour.
    1. Too often, science neglects to evaluate reverse causation.
    2. As I’ve often written, the energy in phase transitions can be considerable compared with that within a fluctuating phase.
    3. Inadequate attention has been given to Ross McKitrick’s paper on land use. 2.McKitrick, Ross R. and Lise Tole (2012) Evaluating Explanatory Models of the Spatial Pattern of Surface Climate Trends using Model Selection and Bayesian Averaging Methods. It touches on similar concepts to the paper being discussed.


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    Geoff Sherrington

    It might be OT here, but perhaps not. Here is a letter covering a number of drought years in the Murray Darling basin.
    http://www.geoffstuff.com/mdba.JPG
    It opens a number of considerations that might need more attention in the sense that, like the above paper, it is counter-intuitive (depending on how you were schooled).


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      Dave

      .
      Geoff

      Amazing that the MDBA is unaware of the statistics Prof Flannery based his statements on:

      Why is this fool of a man allowed to continue to advise on climate change?

      Bureau of Satistics proves him wrong. Yet he still gets paid. Irrigation reduced by 55% yet production reduced only by 3%. Some of these farmers were doing something right. What is Tim Flannery doing to quote the exact opposite.


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    John Brookes

    I like this paper. It is interesting to think that we could incorporate the work in this paper to improve climate models.


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      John, climate is fantastically variable and complex, with vast unknowns. Climate models are fantastically flimsy and superficial…the best ones, I mean.

      You could lavish resources on improving climate models. But it’s kind of like hiring the Berlin Philharmonic to play Achy Breaky Heart.


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      Joe V.

      Improvement is in the nature of process. Getting hung up on process can veryquickly cause one lose touch with the purpose .

      What good is a process that doesn’t leave room for improvement ?

      Or those that can do and those that cannt process.


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      Geoffrey Cousens

      Interesting?Nong,its further proof of how crude the flat earth 24 hr. sunlight models are.The ones upon which your belief system is enshrined.[att. Brooks].


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      Streetcred

      [ ... ] we could incorporate the work in this paper to improve climate models.

      Qe ? You’re not part of WE, jb.

      Maybe you could sashay on down to Lewandoski’s orifice for some counselling.


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    Norman

    Duh as Bart Simpson would say it was bleeding obvious. Just take a look at vapour radar over the amazon during day time. I would have thought this was very obvious from simple physics.


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    Julian Flood

    quote
    We conclude that condensation and evaporation merit attention as major, if previously overlooked, factors in driving atmospheric dynamics.
    unquote

    Look, sorry about this: I’ll be brief, not a general attribute of the swivelly-eyed.

    Condensation depends to a considerable extent on the availability of aerosols.

    Oil and surfactant pollution of the ocean surface: reduce evaporation; reduce wave breaking and hence salt aerosol production; reduce ocean mixing and hence phytoplankton nutrition which lowers DMS production; lower emissivity; lower albedo; reduce turbulent lifting of aerosols to the cloudbase. All this warms the ocean surface and lowers cloud albedo. Surface warms.

    Enough light oil and surfactant comes down the world’s rivers to coat the entire ocean surface every two weeks. I have seen a smooth of over 10,000 square miles while flying from abeam Portugal to Madeira. Google images of the ocean and look for smooths, They are everywhere.

    See
    http://i39.tinypic.com/2igd1mr.jpg
    for what happened when the Kriegsmarine offensive spilled millions of gallons.

    See
    Hughes S.L., N.P. Holliday, J. Kennedy, D.I. Berry, E.C. Kent, T. Sherwin, S. Dye, M. Inall, T. Shammon, and T. Smyth (2010) Temperature (Air and Sea) in MCCIP Annual Report Card 2010-11, MCCIP Science Review,
    Fig 2
    for what the polluted Rhine outflow is doing to warming in the southern North Sea.

    By altering aerosol production and condensation we may have changed the weather. A trial off Fiji using a tanker full of oil/surfactant would quantify the effect. I volunteer to carry the bags.

    There, that was quick.

    BTW, Noziere has found that forests generate their own clouds from bacterial aerosols.

    JF
    [drains a dipper of brandy and water to become once more a perfect English gentleman]


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      Streetcred

      Enough light oil and surfactant comes down the world’s rivers to coat the entire ocean surface every two weeks. I have seen a smooth of over 10,000 square miles while flying from abeam Portugal to Madeira. Google images of the ocean and look for smooths, They are everywhere.

      Haven’t I seen you posting this bullshit elsewhere before and being thoroughly rounded up ?


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    Bevan

    About 1500 years ago, the Nazca people of Peru suddenly vanished. Research has indicated that they cut down their trees thereby reducing the rainfall as well as making their countryside prone to flooding from El Nino events. It is now a vast desert area. See the report on the research findings at:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8334000/8334257.stm


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    Water Wizard

    When a forest burns it is unknown just how long the particulates stay in the air and how far they move from the fire. What is obvious is that there is a drought, a fire, then a flood. No necessary all in the same place but these events are related. A cycle occurs, the wavelength of which is not well understood. However, once a big fire occurs it should be possible to plot the movement and critical density of particulates and the particulate diameters. Once the fire happens, the disaster is not yet over so to speak. The fire may be crucial for the flood. This cycle is also driven by another factor, sunspots. More sunlight means more uptake of water from our oceans and stronger winds. This can be seen from river volumes & sunspot activity vs time.


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    Bribie John

    “The paper is so controversial that many reviewers and editors said it should not be published”.

    What?

    60 years ago this was normal science in my high-school. I have asked several other older folk who agree that they were taught the same.

    Seems as if old knowledge has become new knowledge.


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    This sounds good and clearly too important to silence. I guess they thought about that, two years is a long wait. At least it’s out.


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  • #

    Has anyone mentioned the diversionary datum that humans actually occupy a tiny fraction of a percent of the land mass. Oh lordie.


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    Chris Schoneveld

    The cutting of the forest around Mount Kilimanjaro reduced precipitation and caused the icecap to shrink. So this is another well known example, although on a smaller scale


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    Chris Schoneveld

    It would be interesting to see the precipitation statistics before and after israel started to irrigate the Negev desert for agricultural use.


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    Beth cooper

    Tenured climate modeller: Take a look at me latest climate model.
    Man in the street: Say, where are the clouds?
    Tenured climate modeller: We don’t do clouds,they’re kinda compluh-cated.


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    Matt Thompson

    If this is true then how does one explain Western Australia with more trees per acre and less rainfall than most places on earth.


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    TexCIS

    This blog post reminds me of an article saw recently. You’ve got to read this! It’s about reclaiming arid land with “trincheras” and “gabions” . . . tiny micro-dams that slow runoff, trap silt and promote vegetation growth.

    If it could work in arid Mexico, it could work in Australia!!!
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/21/living/oprah-rancher/index.html

    Since more plants = more water, there’s nothing to lose. And the investment in materials is nil, just labor. And time.


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    Andy R

    “…and is another reason why a carbon market, giant windfarms, and solar panels are a waste of time and money.”
    Why this statement?
    Actually I agree about the carbon market, but wind and solar are making their own inroads for reasons having nothing to do with the subject at hand.

    This is the same kind of mixing politics and science that causes me to question the legitimacy of global warming alarmists.
    If the science is sound, let it speak for itself – introducing politics to the argument does more harm than god IMO.


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    mullumhillbilly

    Cloud cover is the largest source of uncertainty in IPCC climate models, and the uncertainty straddles the possibilitites that changes in cloud cover and distributions could have positive or negative effects on global temperature. Efforts to mitigate CO2 output hinge upon that certainty.

    Thank you and congratulations to Dr. Makarieva and her team, for having identified a crucial but overlooked element in the physics of clouds and system feedbacks, that may help to reduce that uncertainty. The implications of “the Pump” process in Biotic Regulation are profound and deserve major attention and debate.

    The “Pump” is explained on Makarieva’s website . In brief, condensation of evaporated water above a corridor of forests extending far inland, can generate its own inflow of winds, winds which are bearing moisture from the ocean. Forests may regulate climate in other ways too. For example, aerosol particles from bacteria could be triggering cloud formation, both over forests (Noziere) and in the troposhore at 8-12km altitude. recent Jo Nova post

    Now we can see that biotic evaporation and condensation and cloud formation is creating inland-flowing sky-rivers, dropping their moisture over the same large forests which grow best in well-watered areas, and this must over time produce large land-rivers. Planet Aqua indeed.!

    Fortunately, CO2 fertilisation will help sustain these life-bringing processes..the Amazon is not turning into a fiery drought ridden savannah from climate change after all ! Quote: “The benefits of CO2 fertilisation exceeded those losses in most scenarios. Benefits ranged up to a 319 billion tonne net gain of stored carbon over the 21st century.” And bowl me over, it’s in the SMH !!

    So Nature is tough, resilient and adaptable, and will thrive if allowed. But while the extra CO2 can help forest and trees grow faster, the extra growth and carbon storage don’t offset the possible changes to regional climate that might follow loss of forest-covered land area. These changes might happen if regional evaporation rates are lessened by forest clearing (eg grass and crops transpire less than forests), and if condensation nucleii from crops and grass are less effective than forest bacteria.

    These factors suggest that the major anthropogenic climate change risk is from land-clearing, the loss of large areas of forest. Did European climate change since MWP and LIA follow patterns of deforestation?. Is current-day deforestation (mostly driven by poverty) changing regional climate? .

    Overlooking these factors and spending resources, investment and research on mitigating CO2 emissions is wasteful. It diverts energy and effort away from more practical beneficial and necessary human development and environmental actions. Beneficial environmental actions are those which build upon natural resilience and adaptablity, like reversing forest loss, maintaining clean water and air. CO2 mitigation is too costly on many levels.


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    mullumhillbilly

    My two bobs worth of sensible madness :-) .
    Its not often I can do that out loud, too many confirmation-bias thought-bubbles surround those who live in this supposedly “free-thinking” neck of the woods.
    If yer not Green yer Redneck Trog and vice versa.

    If the SMH link doesnt work try

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/amazon-less-at-risk-from-climate-change-than-feared-study-20130207-2dzlf.html

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/06/us-climate-amazon-idUSBRE91510O20130206


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      Backslider

      Thanks, I already read those articles today. Slowly but surely we are getting some common sense back into the climate debate.

      Where in Mullum ru? I was there in the 70′s (Cooper’s Lane).


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    mullumhillbilly

    In the nearby southern woods. Sorry don’t want to be too specific in public.
    70′s is wayback.. all dairies and fresh flower children at that time I guess.

    The debate has surely become interesting since the Mayan calendar change.
    (threw that one in as a mullum memento just for you) :-)


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    RossCO

    The same thing happens when we build and mine – the areas around pits and dumps always seem to attract more rain. Unfortunately the rain that lands around cities dissappears into the drains.


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    Snake Oil Baron

    Sorry if this has been covered but there are lots of comments here:

    The vast majority of weeds are NOT invasive species, they are indigenous species or transitional species (those which have evolved to invade a disrupted area like after a fire or land slide, reproduce massively and die off as the location transitions back to the climax community). Even invasive species tend to lose their mojo over time as more and more native plants, animals, pathogens, parasites and microbes are exposed to and adapt to their presence.

    Back on topic, the Sahara heat pump theory (probably not the exact name) proposes that long ago, the earth’s angle to the sun made the Sahara more sunny than now and caused updrafts pulling in moist winds from the coast as currently happens further south where Africa has much tropical forest. Maybe the jungles there at the time were responsible for some of the winds or maybe the forests are a majority cause and earth tilt was actually minor. Interesting to think about and it would mean that reforestation might be more productive by working from the west, north and east coasts inwards instead of from the wet south towards the desert north.


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