Does CO2 Lead Or Lag Temperature?

People love to debate whether CO2 leads or lags temperature, based on ice core graphs. The whole discussion is a farce. You can make CO2 appear to lead or lag by how you position the two graphs on the Y-axis.

CO2 appears to lag.

CO2 lags temperature rises in ice core data

Same graph with the Y-axis shifted. Now CO2 appears to lead.

CO2 changes as a response to ocean temperature.  Warmer water (and beer) can hold less CO2, so it outgases CO2 to the atmosphere. Cold water holds more CO2, and removes it from the atmosphere. This is one of the first things geology students learn.

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38 Responses to Does CO2 Lead Or Lag Temperature?

  1. Gator says:

    This is one of the first things geology students learn.

    Back when I was a climatology student, that was one of the first things we were taught, along with the fact that CO2 residency is only 3-7 years. But of course this was right after the ice age scare and right before the great global warming swindle.

    • Cal says:

      CO2 residency is over 100 years, so clearly you never were a climatology student.

      • Gator says:

        Sorry Cal, I was, and you are wrong.


        Climate scientists presume that the carbon cycle has come out of balance due to the increasing anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use change. This is made responsible for the rapidly increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations over recent years, and it is estimated that the removal of the additional emissions from the atmosphere will take a few hundred thousand years. Since this goes along with an increasing greenhouse effect and a further global warming, a better understanding of the carbon cycle is of great importance for all future climate change predictions. We have critically scrutinized this cycle and present an alternative concept, for which the uptake of CO2 by natural sinks scales proportional with the CO2 concentration. In addition, we consider temperature dependent natural emission and absorption rates, by which the paleoclimatic CO2 variations and the actual CO2 growth rate can well be explained. The anthropogenic contribution to the actual CO2 concentration is found to be 4.3%, its fraction to the CO2 increase over the Industrial Era is 15% and the average residence time 4 years.

        • Lars Neumeister says:

          The article byHarde is an embarassement – you certainly did not study climatolgy.
          The Harde article is so absurd and debunked many times…. there are Gigatonnes of anthropogenic CO2 emissions every year and the CO2 concentration are higher than ever before, and Harde says: there is no connection? You maust be joking.

          • Gator says:

            Thanks for sharing your biased opinion regarding Harde. Considering the hard and fast fact that you are absolutely wrong about my educational background, and that you are also absolutely incorrect regarding historic CO2 levels, I will judge your opinion of Harde accordingly.

          • steve case says:

            I just ran across this post on a Google search on, “CO2 lags temperature” and I was prompted to do so because of a WattsUpWithThat article:CO2 and Hockey Sticks…

            I’m not sure what I’m going to say over there if anything, but I found your post very interesting. I’ve always doubted the 1,000 year CO2 residency time for the simple reason that the Keeling curve is negative for several months of the year.

        • James says:

          “… estimates of the characteristic ‘residence time’ of a molecule of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere involve a complicated mélange of factors, leading to the conclusion that

          although almost half of newly added carbon dioxide molecules remain for only a decade or two, roughly a third stay for a century or more, and fully one fifth for a millennium.

          (see, e.g., Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 7 (2007), pp. 2287-2312).
          This is why the residence time of such molecules is generally characterized as a century.”

          Source: Robert M. May (Former President of the Royal Society (2000-2005), Chief Scientific Adviser to the British Government (1995-2000), Oxford, England), How Long Will They Stay (in cache) -in response to Freeman Dyson, “The Question of Global Warming”, New York Review of Books (NYBooks), Volume 55, Number 15, October 9, 2008 (in cache).

  2. griff says:

    Arctic sea ice extent lowest in the satellite record for 7 days in a row as of April 5th… area lowest for 8 days.

  3. tonyheller says:

    Arctic sea ice extent is right where it always is for the date. Your clown show is entertaining however.

    • Cal says:

      Unsurprisingly you cherry-pick the data from 4 of the hottest years on record.

      • tonyheller says:

        Who is this whack job?

      • RW says:

        They are last 4 years.

        Regardless, the mean and two-times the standard deviation from 1981 to 2000 are visible in the graph. I would guess that a mean curve that included the years from 2001 -2013 would fall closer to the more current annual profiles…and I would think that someone who thought the arctic ice was shrinking all those years would be forced to agree. So, if anything, the graph is probably exaggerating the difference between the past and the present.

      • spike55 says:

        piddling 40 year record of reliable temperatures.

        Was FAR warmer for most of the first 8000-9000 years of the current interglacial

        We are actually still in a COOLER part of the Holocene, barely a degree above the COLDEST period in 10,000 years.

        Do at least TRY to learn some facts, cal.

      • jord says:

        dude there is something called seasons if you are going to use a year you are a dumb cuck
        better to look at the amount over the past centuries

    • jord says:

      don’t you notice the data the in presented it is the “sea ice extent” it does not account for the ice/snow above the poles
      also do you not understand that seawater that is being diluted with fresh water from the ever-shrinking (mass not size, a thing that you did not understand) poles have an effect on freezing temperature? Maybe by lowering the temperature for freezing.

  4. spike55 says:

    At no point in time was peak CO2 able to maintain peak temperature.

    In fact, peak CO2 was ALWAYS coincident with the start of rapid COOLING.

    • Rah says:

      And as far as we know, at no time has CO2 at any concentration caused feedbacks that resulted in forcings to cause runaway warming as alarmists claim it will this time.
      (In AR. Take over driving in an hour or so to get us to San Antonio then head West)

    • Cal says:

      In reality, at NO time has that ever been the case.

      • spike55 says:

        “at NO time has that ever been the case.”

        Except EVERY time. !

        Look at the DATA.

      • mkelly says:

        Cal is the following thermodynamic equation correct for 100% CO2 mass? Use 300 K at 1 atm. Input is with an IR component.

        Q = Cp m dT

        If not why not?

    • GeologyJim says:

      Thanks Spike55 for making my favorite point

      Ice core records repeatedly document temperatures starting to fall (into the next glacial period) while CO2 continues to rise for several hundred years (before also falling)

      So there is no way CO2 can be controlling temperature. None.

      • MikeCMcGee says:

        Dear sir, I would say co2 was not the primary driving force in the climate system you describe. Maybe it was the sun. If CO2 was high enough I would assume it could change sensitivity. That’s where I see the risk and the debate at present. We have certainly pushed CO2 up above those natural levels.

  5. John F. Hultquist says:

    It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated.

    (This) affords ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them not only interesting to the advancement of science but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations.”
    President of the Royal Society, London, to the Admiralty, 20th November, 1817 [13]

    *13 President of the Royal Society, Minutes of Council,
    Volume 8. pp.149-153, Royal Society, London.
    20th November, 1817.

  6. Jeff says:

    I like the made up Antarctic Ice Core Data 1 graph.

  7. Denis Rushworth says:

    “You can make CO2 appear to lead or lag by how you position the two graphs on the Y-axis.” True, but usually points on a graph are positioned in accord with the data which is represented by the graph. This may not be true in climate science, but in other areas it is. So which graph is true?

  8. Don B says:

     The temperature leading carbon dioxide relationship is more easily seen by looking at the Vostok data from just one interglacial, for example, The Eemain.

  9. Rick says:

    Why is it you can almost always trace the climate skeptics back to the coal and oil industries?

    • tonyheller says:

      Where does these clowns come from?

      • paddy says:

        Where “do” these clowns come from? Science explained is protagonist , antagonist, for and against, and resolution in a number of cases. The clowns appear on both sides of this debate, but I’m not laughing.

    • Disillusioned says:

      Hey Ignorant Ricky!
      From the link above (which you could have searched before making a fool of yourself):

      People are constantly questioning my credentials. Here are a few of them:

      BS Geology, Arizona State University
      Masters Electrical Engineering, Rice University
      Boston University Geology
      Northern Arizona University Computer Science
      Colorado State University Computer Science
      University of New Mexico Geochemistry

      Lifelong environmentalist.
      I testified at my first Congressional hearing in support of Wilderness in 1972.
      I fought for the Clean Air and Water acts
      Wilderness Ranger Cibola National Forest, New Mexico
      Wilderness Ranger Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico
      Currently battling the City of Boulder, Colorado to stop development on the South Boulder Wetlands
      Full time cyclist for all my local transportation, for the past 40 years

      Science teacher, Athletic Director and Soccer Coach at Oak Creek Ranch School, Arizona
      Math teacher at Phoenix Country Day School
      Substitute teacher at Murphy School District, Phoenix Arizona
      Computer instructor at Tomball College, Texas

      Geothermal research at Los Alamos National Labs
      Oil shale research at Los Alamos National Labs
      Thermodynamic research of methane hydrates at Los Alamos National Labs
      Volcano research at Los Alamos National Labs
      Safety Analysis Report for the Permian Basin DOE nuclear waste disposal site
      Volunteer curator Arizona Mineral Museum

      Electrical Engineer
      Compaq/SGI MIPS consortium design team
      Power PC design team IBM/Apple/Motorola (Used in most game consoles over the last three decades, and PowerMacs)
      Sandia Labs computer architect
      Sandia Labs representative to Al Gore’s Bankers Trust key escrow consortium
      Cyrix Media GX microprocessor design team manager
      Raycer Graphics OpenGL graphics processor verification lead
      Design manager Hitachi/ST SH5 microprocessor
      Verification lead MemoryLogix microprocessor
      Founder, design lead Visual Media video effects/editing software
      OpenGL driver development ATI
      Itanium/i7 design team Intel (very likely being used by you right now)
      Sped up Helicos DNA sequencing algorithm by 50X
      Sped up NCAR weather microphysics kernel by 500X
      Ported NCAR’s radiative transfer model to GPU
      Ported NCAR’s WRF weather model to Windows
      Drone visualization and control software for the US military
      Medical device control systems (under NDA)
      Virtual reality visualization design (under NDA)
      Radio control and visualization software (under NDA)

      There are many more projects I haven’t listed here. You will be hard pressed to find anyone with a broader and more successful career in science, education, environment and engineering. I use the same skill set and techniques to analyze climate science claims, as I have used in science/engineering.

      Your computer/game consoles work, partly due to my efforts. By contrast, climate science doesn’t work, because it is done largely by dishonest, incompetent hacks who don’t follow or even understand any legitimate methodology.

      I don’t receive any funding from anyone, other than small donations to my blog – which work out to about $5/hour. I hate cars and would love to see 90% of them off the road. I have been hit by cars several times riding my bicycle, and they foul the air with pollution.

      Myself? I was a Democrat from 1998 to 2012. I also never worked for, and was frankly afraid to work for the coal and oil industries, out of fear of people like YOU (people I, ironically once considered my friends). I was such a fool I used to pass out Al Gore’s DVD. Then I began to study. And I became disillusioned. I had to finally admit I was wrong. The data don’t lie. People do.

      Keep your head buried and keep believing the Big Lie as long as you need, Ignorant Ricky.

    • rah says:

      Why do alarmists always make such accusations without a lick of proof and on old dead threads? No link. Just shoot a line of BS and run away.

  10. Disillusioned says:

    CO2 changes lag (follow) temperature changes in a matter of months.

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