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Scripps Researchers Find Clear Evidence of Human-Produced Warming in World's Oceans

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  • mtneuman@juno.com
    Excerpt: The authors make the case that their results clearly indicate that the warming is produced anthropogenically, or by human activities. ... For
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2005
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      Excerpt: "The authors make the case that their results clearly indicate
      that the warming is produced anthropogenically, or by human activities."
      ---------------------------
      For Release: February 17, 2005

      Scripps Researchers Find Clear Evidence of Human-Produced Warming in
      World's Oceans
      Climate warming likely to impact water resources in regions around the
      globe

      Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of
      California, San Diego, and their colleagues have produced the first clear
      evidence of human-produced warming in the world's oceans, a finding they
      say removes much of the uncertainty associated with debates about global
      warming.

      In a new study conducted with colleagues at Lawrence Livermore National
      Laboratory's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison
      (PCMDI),Tim Barnett and David Pierce of Scripps Institution used a
      combination of computer models and real-world "observed" data to capture
      signals of the penetration of greenhouse gas-influenced warming in the
      oceans. The authors make the case that their results clearly indicate
      that the warming is produced anthropogenically, or by human activities.

      "This is perhaps the most compelling evidence yet that global warming is
      happening right now and it shows that we can successfully simulate its
      past and likely future evolution," said Tim Barnett, a research marine
      physicist in the Climate Research Division at Scripps. Barnett says he
      was "stunned" by the results because the computer models reproduced the
      penetration of the warming signal in all the oceans. "The statistical
      significance of these results is far too strong to be merely dismissed
      and should wipe out much of the uncertainty about the reality of global
      warming."

      At a news briefing (Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. EST) and symposium presentation
      (Feb. 18 at 1:45-4:45 p.m. EST) during the 2005 American Association for
      the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Barnett
      will discuss the details of the study and explain why the results hold
      implications for millions of people in the near future.

      According to Barnett, the climate mechanisms behind the ocean study will
      produce broad-scale changes across the atmosphere and land. In the
      decades immediately ahead, the changes will be felt in regional water
      supplies, including areas impacted by accelerated glacier melting in the
      South American Andes and in western China, putting millions of people at
      risk without adequate summertime water.

      Similarly, recent research by Barnett and his colleagues with the
      Accelerated Climate Prediction Initiative analyzed climate warming
      impacts on the western United States using one of the models involved in
      the new study. The earlier study concluded that climate warming will
      likely alter western snow pack resources and the region's hydrological
      cycle, posing a water crisis in the western U.S. within 20 years.

      "The new ocean study, taken together with the numerous validations of the
      same models in the atmosphere, portends far broader changes," said
      Barnett. "Other parts of the world will face similar problems to those
      expected--and being observed now--in the western U.S. The skill
      demonstrated by the climate models in handling the changing planetary
      heat budget suggests that these scenarios have a high enough probability
      of actually happening that they need to be taken seriously by decision
      makers."

      In the new study, Barnett and his colleagues used computer models of
      climate to calculate human-produced warming over the last 40 years in the
      world's oceans. In all of the ocean basins, the warming signal found in
      the upper 700 meters predicted by the models corresponded to the
      measurements obtained at sea with confidence exceeding 95 percent. The
      correspondence was especially strong in the upper 500 meters of the water
      column.

      It is this high degree of visual agreement and statistical significance
      that leads Barnett to conclude that the warming is the product of human
      influence. Efforts to explain the ocean changes through naturally
      occurring variations in the climate or external forces- such as solar or
      volcanic factors--did not come close to reproducing the observed warming.

      In addition to Barnett and Pierce, coauthors of the study include Krishna
      Achutarao, Peter Gleckler and Benjamin Santer of Lawrence Livermore
      National Laboratory.

      The global climate models used in the study included the Parallel Climate
      Model from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Department of
      Energy (DOE) and the HadCM3 from the Hadley Centre (United Kingdom). The
      sharing of these model results made this study possible, says Barnett.
      The work was a contribution on behalf of the International Detection and
      Attribution Group (IDAG), which is sponsored by the National Oceanic and
      Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Change Data Detection
      Program, a jointly funded NOAA and DOE program. Additional support was
      provided by DOE through support of PCMDI and Scripps.
      # # #

      Find this article at:
      http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/article_detail.cfm?article_num=666
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