Saturday, June 01, 2013

Eli's Not Fond of Lu

ELEVATOR SPEECH UPDATE:  At ABC David Karoly points out that the CFC replacement HFCs have as large a global warming potential as the CFCs so Lu's prediction of falling temperature is, what do you know, wrong.  Please hold the door for a moment.  Look at the first and last figures below which show that the effect (the forcing) of CFCs+HFCs has remained constant for 17 years and under business as usual will do so for at least another twenty before it starts to increase because of additional HFCs

Substantial updates below

So Eli's Friend, Qing Bin Lu, the Thor of the dissociative electron transfer (DET) reactions on ices hammer drives ozone depletion and now global warming, has found a new home at Journal of Modern Physics B (open version at the arXiv), Gerlich and Tscheusner's old home.  Lu again talked the flacks at U Waterloo into pushing his peanut.  This one is showing up even in newspapers but some of them have a clue or two.    OK the Bunnies say, but that is Canada.  What about our fellow bloggers, they love it, Willard Tony and Heartland are having hot global cooling flashes.  Rick Piltz has a comment in the other direction on the "new" paper, but of course, the old ones were not exactly complementary.

Eli actually has read the paper, and let the Rabett point out to the person who sent him the link, that Bunnies have sharp teeth.  One could, of course, fisk the trash, but that bogs down into explaining to the Shubs of the world that more comprehensive is a perfectly good way of comparing things.  Let us rise up above pedantry in defense of Richard Tol.

Q-B points out that DET is REALLY effective on ices for busting CFCs apart and forming Cl- ions and claims that this does something or other to the global surface temperature, although he is quite confused about what he is saying, either blaming it on the increase in CFCs or what is happening on the polar stratospheric clouds to destroy ozone.  So a natural thing is to look at the forcing from say CFCs and CO2 over say the last 25 years taken from the WMO 2011 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion:2010 Chapter 1 Figure 24.  (Added for clarity:  the forcing from the CFCs+HFCs is ~constant since 1990 and projected to remain so or increase with time.  This falsifies Lu's prediction of decreased gobal temperature based on decreases in CFC alone because of the Montreal Protocols)

QB does some fancy mathterbation exercise to mislead the average reader.  His version is

but here is a more realistic one

Eli, for suitable begging, could expand on this later, but Ms. Rabett calls and the Bunnies will have to go high to beat that.

UPDATE:  Well, there is a subtlety.  The Lu graph is for land + ocean.  the one below it from Skeptical Science for land alone (CO2 alone is about the same).  Why land + ocean compared for forcing is wrong is simple, as put by a Real Climate post which explains how one calculates the effect of increasing carbon dioxide
Current forcings (1.6 W/m2) x 0.75 ºC/(W/m2) imply 1.2 ºC that would occur at equilibrium. Because the oceans take time to warm up, we are not yet there (so far we have experienced 0.7ºC), and so the remaining 0.5 ºC is ‘in the pipeline’. We can estimate this independently using the changes in ocean heat content over the last decade or so (roughly equal to the current radiative imbalance) of ~0.7 W/m2, implying that this ‘unrealised’ forcing will lead to another 0.7×0.75 ºC – i.e. 0.5 ºC. 
Since the oceans have not equilibrated to the forcings comparing how much the oceans have warmed to date compared to forcings is comparing apple seeds to apples.  As Eli said to Andy Revkin when Revkin mentioned a couple of weeks ago in his best Pielke Jr. voice about there not having been a whole lot of tornadoes this year:  Wait

UPDATE 2:  In answer to a question about Lu's correction of the series for Total Soar Irradiance, Lu is using  old data which has recently been corrected for an instrumental issue by the sun goddess, Judith Lean.  the base dropped from 1365 to 1361 W/m2 (Details at the link)

If we look at projections of CFC/HFC forcings into the future from Velders et al, we see that Lu has completely messed up.  He underestimates the effect of CO2 and completely forgets about the HFCs which are being substituted for CFCs.


Russell Seitz said...

A cautionary riff comparing the height of the bar and the impact factors, or lack thereof, of

The International Journal of Modern Physics A

The International Journal of Modern Physics B

( World Scientific Inc. ),

The Journal of Modern Physics

(SCRIP publishing Inc.)


Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical

Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

( Institute of Physics publishing )

& the dozen or so almost, but not quite homonymous journals, out on the high seas of trawling for Sturgeon's Law fodder.

Russell Seitz said...

Is invited from knowledgeable bibliobunnies .

Lars Karlsson said...

In the first graph, by Lu, the (estimated) solar influence has been subtracted.

Anonymous said...

... Bunnies have sharp teeth ...

And laser beams shooting from their eyes!

John Mashey said...

U Waterloo is generally a good school, although I may be biased by knowing it from computer science, whihs has long been very good.

Professors can publish whatever they can get published, but nothing *requires* a school to give junk a big press push.

Embarrassing for UW.

Miguelito said...

"At ABC David Karoly points out that the CFC replacement HFCs have as large a global warming potential as the CFCs so Lu's prediction of falling temperature is, what do you know, wrong."

This is just too awesome, but entirely predictable.

david lewis said...

I skimmed the arxiv version of the paper.

Lu is claiming that there will be no further warming due to any increase of any greenhouse gas other than halocarbons

quoting from the version of the Lu paper available at arxiv:

"it was shown [ Lu cites himself, a previous paper, to substantiate this ] that there has been absolute saturation, i.e. no GHG effect associated with the increasing concentrations of non-halogen gases, since the 1950s".

His claim is that, due to what he takes to be the fact that the warming effect of CO2 and methane etc cannot increase no matter how much more is added to the atmosphere, all civilization would have to do to limit global warming and cool the planet is to continue on with the phaseout of substances that deplete ozone, and limit new species of GHG that retard infrared in previously relatively clear regions of the spectrum.

This would be a way for him to defend himself against the Rabett critique that he ignored HFCs, as they could be described as new species.

The way I'd critique him is to point to evidence that CO2 and methane are not saturated.

He also ignores heat storage in the oceans and thinks he is explaining something with his focus on the global average surface temperature chart. The word ocean is not in the paper.

I was astonished the the dean of science at Waterloo would allow himself to be quoted by the university paper to the effect that he buys what Lu is shovelling, as if he understood enough climate science to say one word. No wonder homo sapiens is going to become extinct.

EliRabett said...

He might try the saturation argument, but it is chopped spinach as Popeye would say. This thing is getting so much play that it is probably worth a serious fisking.

david lewis said...

My impression is Lu isn't going to "try" the saturation argument - it is his argument.

I heard a claim that Joe Farman definitely laid the claim that cosmic rays and not UV are primarily responsible for liberating halogens from halocarbons in the stratosphere in a 2002 paper I don't have ready access to. I.e.

Harris, Farman Comment on "Effects of cosmic rays on atmospheric chlorofluorocarbon dissociation and ozone depletion" PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.89.219801 Published: NOV 18 2002

Because Farman was the first to observe the ozone hole he seemed to take it as his personal responsibility from then on to consider very deeply any explanation anyone had on any aspect.

brent said...

Many thanks for your attention to these odd claims by Qing-Bin Lu, I certainly agree they are unsupportable, but some misunderstandings have crept in that are in need of correction.

Prof Karoly is a little wide of the mark in asserting that HFCs have already reached the same impact on global warming as the climate benefits achieved by reducing CFCs. This is where we are headed if substantial efforts are not made to phase out HFCs soon, but as illustrated in Figure 1-24 of the WMO 2011 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion:2010 HFCs are substantially less significant than the climate impact of CFCs, although according to the same report the sum of HFCs used as ODS replacements is increasing by 8-9% p.a. I have made an effort to explain this more fully at

In Response to Eli's "added for clarity" in parenthesis, It is the forcing from CFCs and HCFCs that is ~constant. The HCFCs are increasing by around 4% p.a., and higher than projected emissions from banks of CFCs are preventing a more rapid decline. But the growth of the very powerful HFCs is an emerging threat to climate that needs to be addressed by the Montreal Protocol, end use bans and pricing mechanisms.

This doesn't alter the falsification of Lu's prediction, but nobody should walk away from this debate thinking the halocarbon threat to the climate is fixed yet.

Anonymous said...

David Lewis.

With apologies for the length and the lack of re-formatting, this is an extract from the paper you mention at 4/6/13 9:08 PM:

"In a recent Letter [1], Lu and Sanche (LS) put forth the
claim that the ‘‘dissociation of chlorofluorocarbons by
capture of electrons produced by cosmic rays and localized
in polar stratospheric cloud ice may play a significant
role in causing the ozone hole.’’ While we do not dispute
the existence of this molecular mechanism or their measurement
of it, we do dispute its importance in the stratosphere.
Here we briefly address some specific points of
disagreement. We urge the reader interested in more detail
to consult the international assessment documents on
stratospheric ozone depletion [2] and review papers [3].

First, the LS analysis does not provide the actual
removal rate of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from the
atmosphere in polar regions due to cosmic ray activity.
The cited rate of 4.3 x 10 ^5 s ^1 is the removal rate
for CFC-12 molecules physisorbed on H2O ice in polar
stratospheric clouds (PSCs). The removal rate from the
atmosphere depends on the fraction of CFC-12 molecules
physisorbed on ice. To date, no laboratory studies of polar
heterogeneous processes have reported significant uptake
on representative surfaces under conditions similar to
those of cloud particles (185–200 K, 100–30 hPa).
CFCs are strongly hydrophobic, and it seems very unlikely
that sufficient chemisorption occurs for the proposed
mechanism to be of atmospheric importance.

Second, the LS analysis is incorrect in interpreting the
low values of CFC-12 observed by the UARS satellite in
the two polar regions as observational evidence ‘‘that
CFCs are strongly destroyed in the winter polar stratosphere
at altitudes below 20 km.’’ The lower concentration
in the polar winter air parcels (relative to air at similar
altitudes in lower latitudes) does indeed signal that more
of the CFC molecules were destroyed. However, this
destruction occurred at earlier times when the air was
at lower latitudes and higher altitudes. Photolysis by solar
UV radiation is the primary loss process for CFC-12 and
most other CFCs. Photolytic loss rates are largest at
tropical and subtropical latitudes in the mid to upper
stratosphere and negligible at polar latitudes in winter.
It is the transport of low-latitude air parcels poleward and
downward each winter that causes the observed seasonal
changes and latitude gradients in CFCs."

Bernard J.

david lewis said...

A discussion of CFCs and HFCs and other minor trace gases can be found in Hansen 2013 Climate forcing growth rates: doubling down on our Faustian bargain which itself cites Hansen and Sato 2004 Greenhouse gas growth rates.

The combined forcing effect of all trace gases other than CO2, CH4 and N20, i.e. everything the Montreal Protocol phased out and everything significant that is produced as substitutes is described by Hansen and Sato 2004 in their Figure 1B, i.e. Estimated Forcing by Trace Gases.

Hansen classes HFCs in with the OTGs, i.e. Other Trace Gases, as opposed to the MPTGs, i.e. Montreal Protocol Trace Gases.

Hansen and Sato's 2004 chart shows Total MPTGs as somewhere between .3 and .35 W/m2 in forcing power and still increasing at the time, whereas Total OTGs never mind just the HFCs are only somewhere between .02 and .04 W/m2 and increasing more slowly at the time.

By now, it may be as Kaoly says that HFCs are adding forcing power to the MPTGs+OTGs total as fast as the reduction of what most refer to as CFCs is reducing it, but the change in the overall picture of forcing agents is minor, unless, as Lu claims, all further additions of CO2 CH4 and N2O to the atmosphere will have no effect.

HFCs could be replaced or stopped from entering the atmosphere far more easily than CO2, CH4, or N2O.

Hence the reason I see the most solid substance in what Lu is shovelling is this idea he has that all non MPTGs+OTGs are saturated in the atmosphere and have been so for decades.

Anonymous said...

And this is another extract:

"Depletion of CFCs by PSC surface reactions in winter
has not been detected by in situ measurements. CFC
abundances show compact correlations among themselves
and with other long-lived compounds such as nitrous
oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) [4]. Changes in the
compact correlation of reactive nitrogen species and
N2O are used to quantify local and large-scale denitrification
in the winter polar stratospheres [5]. No CFC-N2O
correlation changes that indicate local loss of CFCs have
been found in polar air highly processed by PSCs.

Finally, the LS analysis that concludes that the proposed
CFC loss pathway will lead to ‘‘a significant delay
in the eventual recovery of the ozone hole’’ is incomplete.
Contemporary atmospheric models which predict ozone
recovery in the coming decades do not include a significant
direct CFC loss mechanism in the winter stratospheres.
Inclusion of the LS mechanism would have two
consequences: the reduction of atmospheric CFC lifetimes
and an increased sensitivity of winter polar ozone
to changes in PSC activity. In the LS analysis, only the
latter consequence is addressed. Any new loss process
necessarily reduces CFC lifetimes. Shorter lifetimes
will cause total chlorine loading in the atmosphere to
decrease more rapidly than expected, accelerating ozone
recovery. On the other hand, LS are correct in stating that
if PSCs were to increase with additional stratospheric
water vapor, ozone recovery would be delayed. Thus,
the net result of adding the LS mechanism is the sum of
two effects with opposite signs. A complete lifetime
evaluation, which requires a global atmospheric model
that includes both transport and photochemical processes
affecting CFCs, is needed before any conclusion can be
drawn concerning ozone recovery dates."

Bernard J.

david lewis said...

Lu is disputing (see the last response in his list on the page at the link) that any experimental evidence of "the physical mechanism by which CO2 warms the planet" exists.

david lewis said...

If those are extracts from the Harris, Farman and Fahey 2002 comment on Lu's cosmic rays cause the ozone hole idea, it appears Farman says Lu has no measurements supporting his idea either in the stratosphere or in the lab, and that Lu's idea that something is fishy in what everyone else thinks because CFC concentration is lower in the Antarctic stratosphere has no merit.

I once talked to Rowland about the lower CFC concentration in the stratosphere over Antarctica: he said its lower there because the concentration of CFCs was steadily rising due to the accelerating rate of emission over industrialized areas at the time and it took 5 - 10 years for the rising concentration at the Earth's surface to make itself felt in the stratosphere over Antarctica because of the way air from the surface of the Earth gets to the stratosphere over the poles. Thunderheads in the tropics push tropospheric air into the stratosphere which then moves slowly toward the poles.

Anonymous said...

David, not so good at embedding the link (or just lazy), but see also:

There is some "suggestive" lab evidence, apparently, but already at that time three groups offered some major criticism.

And reading Lu's reply on climatesciencewatch doesn't make me any more confident in the man's abilities. As you note, he apparently knows of no evidence. This is a major red flag, considering that there are many papers offering said evidence. But he's got plausible deniability until he acknowledges *he* has seen that evidence, I guess.


EliRabett said...

Brent, that the combined CFC+HFC forcing is roughly constant over the las 15 years is shown by the first figure. That it most likely remain roughly the same for over 50 years is shown in the last one. Maybe Eli will sharpen this up by adding a sentence to the elevator speech.

david lewis said...


When you say to Eli "it is the forcing from CFCs and HCFCs that is ~constant", based on Figure 1-24 of the WMO 2011 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion:2010, you might want to look at page ES.3 in the Executive Summary of that document, i.e. Figure ES-1, where the bottom panel shows the "GWP-Weighted Emissions" of all these substances from 1950 projected to 2050, expressed in terms of CO2e equivalent.

I have the bottom panel of ES-1 here. The WMO document containing it on page ES.3 is here.

It shows the total forcing power of CFCs, HCFCs, halons, etc, i.e. all the ozone depleting substances except the substitute HFCs, to be declining now and projects them to continue to decline. Only when the current production of HFCs are added in is the present total forcing curve ~constant. The projected increase in HFC production causes the projected total forcing of all these substances to start to rise from now on. So Eli could say, based on the data as presented in ES-1, that "the forcing from the CFCs+HFCs is ~constant" since about 2000 or 2005 rather than 1990. I don't know why the Figure 1-24 appears to be based on different data than Figure ES-1.

But Q-B's prediction (in the version of his paper at arxiv) reads like this: "It is predicted that the success of the Montreal Protocol will lead to a long-term slow return of the global surface temperature to its value in 1950-1970 for coming 50-70 years if there is no significant emission of new GH species into the atmosphere".

New GH species are what HFCs are. This allows him to discount any criticism that says he is wrong to predict a cooling planet because the forcing power of the total of the Montreal Protocol Trace Gases is declining.

He's wrong to predict a cooling planet because he's wrong in his assertion that no additional forcing will result from the projected steady accumulation of CO2, CH4 and N2O, and because the planet is out of energy balance now and hence would warm even if the composition of the atmosphere was immediately stabilized.

His cosmic ray idea appears to me to be just a red herring. He is agreeing (in his June 5 response hosted on Climate Science Watch) with the NAS 2010 report that concluded "cosmic rays are not regarded as an important climate forcing", and he doesn't make an argument that goes from cosmic rays cause the ozone hole instead of UV, to how that might affect climate.

EliRabett said...

CFC+HFC has been pretty constant since 1992 or so. See first figure above

brent said...


Many thanks for your informative and helpful replies, the work by Hansen and Sato in particular is more deserving than ever of attention from policy makers and Parties to the Montreal Protocol Open Ended Working Group meeting in Bangkok in a couple of weeks to consider amendments to include HFCs for the 5th consecutive year.

As is all too seldom acknowledged, the Montreal Protocol is about 5 times more effective than the first commitment period of Kyoto because of the dramatic reduction in annual emissions of CFCs it has achieved (Velders et. al. 2007).

I urged Eli to clarify that the forcing impact of CFCs and HCFCs has been roughly constant because I think it's important to call attention to the looming threat posed by HFCs. While the forcing impact of CFCs is only gradually declining, this is mainly due to their very long atmospheric lifetimes, and the still rising annual annual emissions of less ozone depleting but powerful forcers the HCFCs is the main factor in holding halocarbon forcing at a constant level. HFCs have yet to make a major (though ~1-2% of emissions is still very impressive for gasses that have only come into widespread use since the early 1990's) contribution, and I remain convinced Prof Karoly was in error in saying emissions of HFCs are yet anywhere near the forcing significance of reductions in CFC emissions. This matters because if this view is accepted it adds to the misguided perception that the question of ozone depleting gases and their replacements is fixed, rather than the looming threat that Hansen, Velders and others identify.

As you say David, HFCs are a much easier contributor to climate change to address than any of the others, as are the 'banks' of ODS, but very few scientists or activists are currently making this point.

Eli, you are correct that the combined CFC+HFC forcing is roughly constant because the HFC contribution is still relatively small. But the important contribution of Velders (2009) is to show that this is not likely to remain the case for very much longer due to the projected increase in HFCs, in the absence of a swift policy response to drive a phase out similar to that achieved with CFCs. This is particularly so if regard is paid to the 20 year GWP figures of HFCs, which roughly double the 100 year impact. Velders gave me an unpublished graph which shows this, and is published (15 Feb 2012) over at Skeptical Science on the "It's CFCs" post.

So referring in the same breath to the Montreal Protocol trace gases and the "Other Trace Gases" as Hansen and Sato call them is not helpful I think, because of the very different growth rates and policy choices that need to be confronted in respect of each basket.

brent said...

David, it's worth looking at the right hand graphs in Figure 1-24 of the WMO 2011 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion:2010 which illustrate the dramatic growth in forcing impact of the "Kyoto Protocol Synthetics" and HCFCs and are anything other than roughly constant.

I'm sure you'll agree it's important to distinguish the 'stock' and 'flow' of greenhouse gases. While Figure 1-24 illustrates the stock or forcing impact over time, Figure ES-1 (also Fig 5-6) shows the flow, or magnitude of the annual emissions added to atmosphere per annum, and I think is drawn more from the ODS emissions data in Figure 1-3 (p. 1.13) and the HFC emissions projection in Figure 5-5 (p. 5.28). In any case, both show CFCs declining in emissions and forcing impact (though not as fast as projected, mainly due to underestimated importance of emissions from banks (and the failure to address these)), and emissions and forcing impact of HCFCs and HFCs are rising.

My view is that it is helpful to draw attention to these differences, in the hope that the need and opportunity to control HFCs (and HCFCs more strongly) gains wider recognition and action.

That said, all credit to those engaged in responding to Lu's claims, I completely agree his theories were and remain wrong. But if the ensuing debate results in any better appreciation of the real significance of the F-gases there might be something to thank him for?

Hank Roberts said...

> HFCs

Kevin Drum quotes from the NYT:
""Coolant manufacturers spied an opportunity:

"'... They quickly figured out that they could earn one carbon credit by eliminating one ton of carbon dioxide, but could earn more than 11,000 credits by simply destroying a ton of an obscure waste gas normally released in the manufacturing of a widely used coolant gas. That is because that byproduct has a huge global warming effect. The credits could be sold on international markets, earning tens of millions of dollars a year....'

"As it happens, this has been a known problem for about five years (see here and here for more). So why hasn't anything been done about it yet? Blackmail, basically ...."