Apollo-Gaia Project

Director: David Wasdell

Sensitivity and the Carbon Budget

Questions, Comments, Feedback, Peer-Review and Responses


Wadhams, Peter,

Professor of Oceanography, Dept. of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge
6th June 2014
Issues Addressed: Accolade; Publication; Anticipated reactions; Methodology; Radiative Damping Coefficient.
Dear David,
It may seem absurd, but it is only now, on a flight from London to Chicago, that I have had the coherent time and peace of mind (and absence of email) to read properly through your "Sensitivity and the Carbon Budget"
It is a completely staggering work, the most important thing in climate change research that I have ever seen. It is also enormously saddening, since it indicates that we are heading for complete disaster as the climate system takes off into accelerated warming which may well exceed a tipping point and become self-sustaining and self-accelerating.
What is the publication route for this paper? Is it out in any form? Are you going for a journal or for publication through some other means? It needs to get out to the widest possible readership, but I can see that it will arouse intense hatred and kneejerk rejection from virtually everyone. Given what is happening in the world, your life may even be at risk. Certainly the enemy forces will use your lack of an academic affiliation as an excuse to try to squash publication.
What is very striking is the simplicity of your approach. You are not a mathematician, but you have followed a systematic, straightforward, mathematically correct development of the various amplification factors which is fully explained and which leaves no room for doubt that you have hit upon a correct analysis of the earth system response and its massive exceedance of the transient response espoused by IPCC (and not even correctly by them). Congratulations.
The only component of the approach that I was unfamiliar with is radiative damping coefficient. Do you have a good source for the derivation of the value used?
We the human race will have to cope with this large earth system response at some stage, and by happily throwing more CO2 into the atmosphere at an undiminishing rate despite the fact that we have already passed our emission allowance, we are making it more and more likely that the future path will be one of utter disaster. The fact that this disaster will strike after the terms of office of our current politicians is irrelevant
I don't know how I can best help you with this but I'd like to try
Best wishes,

David Wasdell Response

I find the best and most up-to-date treatment of the "Radiative Damping Coefficient" is in Previdi et al (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qj.2165/abstract) Section 2 "Earth’s energy imbalance" introduces λ as the climate feedback parameter. Then on the next page the authors clarify the two factors determining the value of λ for any given forcing, namely λo as the basic Planck response, and the feedback factor brought into play in response to temperature change. Hence λ = λo - FF. You will find an excellent treatment of the derivation of the value of λo in Appendix B at the end of their paper.
You described me as "not a mathematician". However you may remember that I took a first in Mathematics and Physics from Durham University, and was awarded a University Prize on the basis of my finals results. As a (partial) dyslexic I think visually in multi-dimensional animated topology which represents multi-variable and multi-order partial differential equations. The intense training in philosophy and textual analysis that formed part of my second degree has been a life-long asset in sharpening my logical thinking process. As a communicator I always seek to translate the underlying mathematical concepts into visual and textual forms that do not depend on formal mathematical training in the reader.
You also note my "lack of an academic affiliation". That is true only if you restrict your meaning to the traditional structure of an established university. However, the "Unit for Research into Changing Institutions" is a registered Educational Research Trust with charitable status. It was designed to conform to the structure of a quasi-independent, tycoon-led, problem-centred, multi-disciplinary, research project, as set out in "The Modern University" by A.K. Rice and E. Miller, two of the most respected consultants in the history of the Tavistock Institute. After 23 years we are currently in the 7th iteration of the design.
With regard to avenues of publication, I take great inspiration from the "Force 11 Manifesto" concerning scientific publication in a digital age. Section 3.1 (p.6) paragraph 1, is particularly relevant. It is reproduced here:
"3.1 Rethink the unit and form of the scholarly publication: the Research Object
At the foundation of any change is the infrastructure to support that change. One must no longer think of the journal article or research paper as the standard unit of currency by which knowledge is exchanged. Now it is but one among many forms. In the most generic sense, the new form of knowledge exchange centers on the research object [De Roure and Goble, 2009, Bechhofer et al., 2010], a container for a number of related digital objects—for example a paper with associated datasets, workflows, software packages, etc., that are all the products of a research investigation and that together encapsulate some new understanding. Publishing of research objects is not necessarily publishing as we know it today, achieved by the same mechanisms as used for traditional scholarly articles. It consists of providing free and open access to the component parts of the research object, that may or may not have been individually reviewed by others either pre- or post-publication."
The rest of the section is also critically significant for the task we face in ensuring "widest possible readership" and most effective take-up in the effective formulation of international strategy.
As ever,