Humidity. It just kept coming up again and again. First it was Willis Eschenbach and his thunderstorm hypothesis. This has been covered by a post on WUWT so I won’t go into detail here. There was a lot of endorsement of what he said from the members of the audience; several of those who commented afterwards were meteorologists saying that this was stuff that was no longer fashionable in meteorology teaching (but implying that the importance had been forgotten, rather than being no longer valid). I also watched later Willis’s Livetooning while he drew the one of the Heartland’s Joe Bast – he is fast and so accurate – deadly intelect.
William Kininmonth’s presentation also looked at the hydrogeological cycle as a means of self-reguation of climate and Earth’s surface temperature. He concluded by saying that evaporation increases near exponentially as surface temperature rises and has a major stabilising effect on climate.
Covering CO2 increases/decreases in relation to time (but as a geologist sees it) Ian Plimer was very entertaining. Did you know that rocks don’t “suffer” deformation – they actively “enjoy” it? no – nor did I 🙂 More seriously, I also didn’t know that only 0.25% of earth’s volcanic activity is on the land surface, and this is important. On a theme of “One volcano can ruin your whole day” he started with ‘ordinary volcanoes’ like Ejyafjallajokull and Mount St Helens and described how much CO2 they eject, then started to go up orders of magnitude – Tambora, Toba, supervolcanoes, Deccan traps and basaltic flows. That’s when he started on the undersea volcanic activity – from undersea supervolcanoes to sea mounts (3.5 million of them!) and mid-ocean ridges. And this deep ocean activity doesn’t pump CO2 into the atmosphere directly, but under the right conditions leads to mineral formation (dolomites and carbonates). And his overall point? That there is a very high proportion of the Earth’s CO2 locked up by geological processes – and that ongoing geological activity is a (the?) major part of the carbon cycle on Earth, but is has been ignored in the IPCC.
So what else? Well I got to say hello to Steve McIntyre on behalf of Kevin (I did promise I would) and chatted to him with E.M.Smith about the treratment of stations by NASA in GIStemp. I introduced myself to Lucia, who is every bit as bubbly and friendly as her blog would suggest. we agreed that this was like no other conference we’d been to – I mean where else do you get waiters serving breakfast? No definately nothing like the more usual engineering and science conferences. As I left Lucia she was hoping for a chance to talk to James Delingpole, and I had a rather facetious thought: every time I saw him he was being interviewed – cameras, microphones, TV, radio, bloggers whoever…. James, love ya really, but can’t resist – you were speaking in one of the science sessions at a conference about the science and economics – did you actually get a chance to hear any of the science?
One more observation. The use of media and the web has been a very important aspect here. Blogs have made a difference and yet we continue to be surprised at this. Anthony Watts commented that keynote speaker and former astronaut Harrison Schmitt had been a boyhood hero whom he remembered watching as a child, and he was gobsmacked to have Dr Schmitt come up and comment on Anthony’s Surface Stations work and thank him for it. Likewise E.M.Smith expressed incredulity at the number of people who came up to him and thanked him for his efforts and blog – both the GIStemp and economics sides – even a well known economist came over to ask his advice. He really is too modest.
And so I said goodbye to friends old and new and, as I write this on a seriously delayed flight, I’ve been awake since 5am; I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to post it. I’ve left Chicago with heavier bags (climate books) a probably heavier me (all the excellent food) but with a much lighter heart and a clearer head full of ideas. I did expect to enjoy ICCC4, but did so much more than I expected.