02. Carbon Footprints

A Study in Infra-Red

Part two -Carbon Footprints


How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Sherlock Holmes


In part 1 it was revealed that certain inconvenient truths are jealously kept from both Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) proponents and skeptics by a global, monopolizing entity that can only be described as psychopathic. We began a systematic approach in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, aimed at discovering the nature of those truths. We first established that global warming is indeed occurring, though in a spatially uneven fashion and suspect 1, the sun, was eliminated from our inquiry. Now we shall turn our attention to the next suspect.


Suspect 2 – Carbon Dioxide


Carbon dioxide as one of the three primary radiation absorbing constituents in the atmosphere (along with water vapour and ozone) has been increasing in concentration since the beginning of the last century. As every schoolchild knows, its effect is to decrease radiative loss to space via the greenhouse effect, and to warm the earth.


Let us look at  Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere versus the temperature increase in degrees Celsius.




Compare this with the solar cycle length versus temperature anomaly graph that we observed in part 1.



Solar cycle length (red) vs Northern Hemisphere temperature (blue) (Stauning 2011).


We can see that the correlation between temperatures and solar activity, declining in tandem from 1850 to 1900, rising from 1900 to 1940 and declining from 1940 to 1970, would seem to argue that other factors are more influential than increasing CO2. That is, up until 1970, after which the relationship between the sun and temperature breaks down. This is generally recognised as the period from which the anthropogenic fingerprint makes its mark. There does seem to be a definite upturn in CO2 levels from around 1960 that correlates with this.


In this video depicting CO2 levels in the atmosphere over 1 year, 2006 we can readily observe that this gas is primarily emitted in the northern hemisphere, as one might expect.


NASA - A Year in the Life of Earth's CO2


Clich here to watch video


This would seem to sit well with the heat signature revealed in this NASA GISS map below showing the trend in temperatures annually (Jan-Dec) from the period 1979 - 2006.


Fig 1: Global map

It is clear that the warming is predominantly a northern hemisphere and particularly Arctic phenomenon.

However, the video only showed us CO2 over 1 year, 2006. Let us now look at how measurements of this gas vary over different latitudes covering the period from 1979 to 2006 as in this video below:



Click here to watch video




CO2 as a gas, although emitted mostly in the northern hemisphere, is dispersed evenly throughout the globe by the atmospheric circulation. This does not sit well with the heat signature of the planet covering the same period.

This even spread does not correlate with the uneven distribution of global temperature changes.


If CO2 were solely responsible for the warming we should see:


  • Warming of the Troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere, and a cooling of the Stratosphere as heat is prevented from reaching this level.


  • Equal warming during the night as during the day.


  • More warming in winter.


  • More warming at the poles than at the equator.


All the points except for the last one are what we have actually observed.


It can hardly be said that both poles are warming more than the equator. 


Again by the methods of observation and exclusion we have established that this thermodynamic footprint points towards something other than CO2 alone.


We know that Arctic surface air temperatures have increased by around 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) since 1976 whilst the Antarctic has increased by 0.35 °C (0.6 °F). That’s a 4 times greater increase in the North pole than the South pole. 


If CO2 should be heating both poles evenly, what else could account for this uneven pattern?


A potential candidate is Soot.


Suspect 3 – Soot


Scientists have been finding soot, or black carbon as it is technically known, in the Arctic.


Black Carbon


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It has been suggested that as much as 45% or more of the warming in the Arctic since 1976 has been due to this black carbon. These particles absorb solar radiation and have a strong warming influence both in the atmosphere and on the surface where they counteract the albedo effect of the ice.


The source of black carbon is said to be from industrial processes and combustion of fuels which have steadily risen. As one would expect, industrial activity is concentrated in the northern hemisphere. It is claimed that, since the enactment of clean air regulations passed in the 1970s in the west, Asia has been mostly responsible for industrial black carbon emissions, contributing one-third. Fire around the world also contributes one-third, and the remaining third comes from the United States, Russia, and Europe. 
















NASA | GEOS-5 Aerosols


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We see the dominant aerosol is sea-salt (blue), churned up by winds. Not surprising in a world made up primarily of ocean. Dust (red) from mainly from Africa, the Middle-East and Asia, mixes with tropical storms in the Atlantic. Organic (biomass) and industrial black carbon are in green. Industrial black carbon, produced mostly in the northern hemisphere, is in fact difficult to make out in the video, certainly over the Arctic region. It is clear that South America, Indonesia and Africa are the biggest producers of biomass black carbon emissions. The southern hemisphere is the dominant producer of all black carbon, yet as can be seen in the GISS map and zonal mean temperature changes by latitude graph, the least warming has been observed here. 


Black Carbon Emissions: Industrial and biomass black carbon emissions with boxed areas showing regions assumed in the model experiments. Credit: NASA/GISS



A complicating factor, is another product of both volcanic activity and fossil fuel emissions over Asia, Europe, Russia and the US, sulphate (white). Sulphate particles scatter incoming Solar radiation and have a net-cooling influence on the climate. 


“Sulphate (white) can be seen from two primary sources, those being fossil fuel emissions over Asia, Europe and the US, and also from volcanic emissions”



According to NASA scientists, sulphate emissions were one of the factors responsible for the sharp decline in temperatures from 1940 to 1970. The same scientists also claim that since the enactment of clean air regulations passed in the 1970s in the US and Europe, Sulphate emissions have been reduced by 50% and this has contributed towards the spike in temperatures from that time onwards. 



“Since the 1890s, surface temperatures have risen faster in the Arctic than in other regions of the world. In part, these rapid changes could be due to changes in aerosol levels. Clean air regulations passed in the 1970s, for example, have likely accelerated warming by diminishing the cooling effect of sulfates. Credit: Drew Shindell, Goddard Institute for Space Studies”


Difficulties arise when we consider that fossil fuel emissions on an industrial scale were not suddenly introduced from 1940 but originate from the 19th century. From 1920 to 1940 there was a sharp rise in Arctic temperatures. Where was the cooling effect of sulphates then?

As we have established previously, the correlation between temperatures and solar activity, both rising from 1900 to 1940 and declining in tandem from 1940 to 1970, would seem to be a better fit than sulphate emissions. 

Significantly, in addition to the greatest quantities of industrial carbon black, most sulphate emissions, having a cooling influence, also come from Asia. These sulphate emissions, uninhibited by clean air regulations, do not seem to be having the cooling effect that emissions in the west are claimed to have had.




Sulfate aerosol optical thickness 2005 to 2007 average


This also illustrates that industrial carbon black and sulphate emissions go hand in hand. The warming effect of carbon black is mitigated by the cooling effect of sulphate and vice versa. You cannot have it both ways. In the video, sulphate, including from the US, despite the “clean air regulations”, seems to be streaming over the Arctic region, whilst industrial black carbon is conspicuous by its virtual absence. 


All Tarnished and Covered in Soot


Prominent Climate scientist James Hansen claims that the Arctic is blanketed with black carbon haze, one-third from Asia, one-third from fire around the world, and the remaining third from the United States, Russia, and Europe.