Further Comments Regarding The Concept “Heating In The Pipeline”

Climate Science has shown why there is, at present,  no “heat in the pipeline” [or an equivalent term “unrealized heat”]; e.g. see

Is There Climate Heating In “The Pipeline”?

Can The Climate System “Mask” Heat?

We were alerted to two weblogs that incorrectly discuss this issue and further illustrate why this concept is being misinterpreted. These weblogs are



The 2008 bravenewclimate weblog includes the text

“In brief then, we are NOT currently feeling the impact of 450 ppm CO2-e. Because of aerosols and other cooling factors, we are most probably experiencing the partial result of the extra energy being trapped by about 375 ppm CO2-e. Indeed, we are not even feeling all of that, at least in terms of changes in air temperature, because so much energy is currently going into heating large bodies of water and melting huge chunks of ice.”

The writer of this weblog is in error as, since mid-2003, there has not been heating of large bodies of water, and the amount of melting of ice, in term of Joules, is quite small (see Table 1 in this paper).

Their weblog also states

However, this offsetting effect is unlikely to remain in the future as improved pollution controls are expected to significantly reduce the cooling effect of aerosols over the course of coming decades: Meinshausen et al (2006).

The improvement of controls on industrial and vehichular emission would reduce that aerosol source, however, grassland and forest burning as well as dust from land management practices such as overgrazing (e.g. that result in desertification) are unlikely to be reduced as population continues to grow in the tropical and subtropical latitudes, and forest fires continue in the high boreal latitudes. The aerosol contribution to the climate system will remain with us indefinitely.

The 2009 bravenewclimate weblog specifically defines the term “heating in the pipeline”. They write

“Warming ‘in the pipeline’ is a term used to describe lags and inertia in the climate system…. there is a ‘missing’ quanta of  warming, which is being hidden by a number of poorly understood factors.

The error in the above is that the authors of the weblog (and the IPCC) are using surface temperature trends to quantify climate system heat changes. With temperature changes in response to heating or cooling, there are lags (e.g. it takes time to heat a pot of water on the stove). However, by using the appropriate metric of heating and cooling (i.e. Joules) there is NO lag or ineria. The heat is either being added or it is not.  There is NO hidden heat.

Finally, their weblog makes the recommendations

“That is, there is still a fair chance that we can ‘hold the 2°C line’, if strong mitigation of greenhouse gases is combined with the following three actions: (i) a slow, rather than instant, elimination of aerosol cooling, (ii) a directed effort to first remove warming aerosols like black carbon, and (iii) a concerted and sustained programme,  over this century, to draw-down excessive CO2 (geo- and bio-engineering) and simultaneously reduce non-CO2 forcings, such that the final equilibrium temperature rise will be lower than would otherwise be expected on the basis of current concentrations.”

The argument that we should slowly reduce aerosols, with the first removal being of black carbon, assumes that climate change, as represented by global warming is more important that the health benefits of reducing these aerosols. As reported on Climate Science, this is a misplaced approach which jepordizes millions of lives who need better air quality; e.g. see

Misconception And Oversimplification Of the Concept Of Global Warming By V. Ramanthan and Y. Feng.

In the above Climate Science weblog, I wrote

This “tradeoff” [of climate benefits at the expense of health benefits from air pollution] is a seriously misleading recommendation. There are no tradeoffs with respect to air pollution abatement! Health benefits of reducing air pollution should be a worldwide goal irrespective of how it alters the global average radiative forcing.



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