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CO2 Pulse-Chase Experiment

Let's get some actual experimental data
  [vote for,

Not all science is equal. A fact lost on the majority, but important nonetheless. Like any occupation, the size, quality and motivation of the field tends to foster a higher general standard and the peak quality is pushed a little higher. A good and current example of this is neuroscience. As a field it is currently well funded, tends to publish in bigger journals and most importantly is benefiting from a sudden availability of new tools which provide an awful lot of opportunity. In the past, new tools have inspired other surges in scientific output. The electron microscope produced a frenzy of interesting subcellular imaging in the 60's&70's and sadly, we're probably nowhere near as good at that now as we were then.

Anyhow, climate science was a bit of a backwater in the past. An offshoot of some Earth science or other, with total of about 100 bearded Berghaus fleece wearers using meagre funding to travel the world indulging their hiking fetish. Now, it's more serious, competitive and as such some real data exists*. Anyhow, we can increase the quality a bit further, with a chunk of cash, a little ambition and some proper techniques.

Currently, climate science is essentially observation only, with a bit of computer modelling at the back end. Models are only as good as the data you put in and as bad as the variables left swinging about in the breeze. We're in an interesting position where we can actually perform some real experiments. The total amount of non-CO2 producing power generation in the word has increased significantly in recent years. it looks likely that this trend will continue. Now, much of the coal,oil,&gas infrastructure remains. So, before it gets phased out, lets use it for proper science.

Even solar and wind power generation techniques require maintenance, as does conventional power generation. By synchronizing these, we can have significant pulses of CO2 production followed by relatively low CO2 production periods. So, we have 6 months of coal oil and gas burning frenzy, then turn it off and watch. With care, you will know how much carbon went in, how much came out, where, and how that ends up distributed. If you're really clever you can dope your CO2 with isotopes, you've got C12, C13, C14 to play with and at least 3 stable oxygen varieties. There's also Nitrogen, methane, sulphur and argon that can be labelled and traced.

The idea is, that a little synchronization should only alter the distribution of CO2 emission through time, not the total amount. This gets it past the world government's notoriously tricky ethics committee. There, some proper more proactive climate science.

*Actually, it's still not that great. Turns out gases trapped in ice cores diffuse around a lot before being properly trapped, and you rely on proxies like isotope ratios. Absolute concentrations of gasses are a nightmare to get hold of from ice cores, we've only been measuring atmospheric CO2 for a little while, in maybe 2 places, and atmospheric oxygen for about 2 mins. No one is measuring nitrogen or say, argon, so we have no good historical idea of the total composition of the atmosphere, or annoyingly the total amount.

bs0u0155, Sep 23 2016


       The problem is that the result is already known - the only thing missing is the experimental data, which will of course be construed to fit the known answer.   

       Consider each of the following possible results of your pulse experiment, and the explanations in light of the known answer:   

       (a) There's no downstream effect over the following 15 years. Explanation: the effects of CO2 manifest only over longer time periods. Solution: more funding!!   

       (b) There's no downstream effect over the following 50 years. Explanation: the oceans are buffering the pulses, but we still have a real problem. Solution: more funding!!   

       (c) There are short-term fluctuations, at some point in the future, after your pulses. Explanation: we told you so! Solution: more funding!!   

       (d) There are fluctuations, but they appear to be in the wrong direction. Explanation: the climate is complex; localized or short-term cooling is a consequence of long-term warming. Solution: more funding!!   

       (e) The next ice-age begins. Explanation: we didn't call it "global warming", we called it "climate change", and the climate is definitely changing. Solution: more funding!!
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 23 2016

       using satellite based lasers, you could actually, just possibly, measure column of air warming above a large herd of plantivores, like they could have them graze at areas 40 miles different than usual, then have a control and swap back to the usual grazing lands. this is not a silliness, it is just that with some thought a few million methane generators could occupy, avoid, then reoccupy a spatial area of earth, with column of air effect measurements   

       I do not know how you put up with it being 72 F one afternoon and 70F another, other than the 3d volumetric mapping being super high p value like fMRI p values.
beanangel, Sep 24 2016


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