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Experts: New Data Show Global Warming

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  • mtneuman@juno.com
    Experts: New Data Show Global Warming Climate Researchers Say Undersea, Space Data Support Projections of Global Warming By CHARLES J. HANLEY AP Special
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2005
      Experts: New Data Show Global Warming
      Climate Researchers Say Undersea, Space Data Support Projections of
      Global Warming
      By CHARLES J. HANLEY AP Special Correspondent
      The Associated Press

      Apr. 29, 2005 - Climate scientists armed with new data from deep in the
      ocean and far into space have found that Earth is absorbing much more
      heat than it is giving off, a conclusion they say validates projections
      of global warming.

      Lead scientist James Hansen, a prominent NASA climatologist, described
      the findings on the planet's out-of-balance energy exchange as a "smoking
      gun" that should dispel doubts about forecasts of climate change. A
      European climate expert called it a valuable contribution to climate

      Hansen's team, reporting Thursday in the journal Science, said they also
      determined that global temperatures will rise 1 degree Fahrenheit this
      century even if greenhouse gases are capped tomorrow.

      If carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions instead continue to
      grow, as expected, things could spin "out of our control," especially as
      ocean levels rise from melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the
      researchers said. International experts predict a 10-degree leap in
      Fahrenheit readings in such a worst-case scenario.

      The NASA-led researchers were able to measure Earth's energy imbalance
      because of more precise ocean readings collected by 1,800
      technology-packed floats deployed in seas worldwide beginning in 2000, in
      an international monitoring effort called Argo. The robots regularly dive
      as much as a mile undersea to take temperature and other readings.

      Their measurements are supplemented by better satellite gauging of ocean
      levels, which rise both from meltwater and as the sea warms and expands.

      With this data, the scientists calculated the oceans' heat content and
      the global energy imbalance. They found that for every square meter of
      surface area, the planet is absorbing almost one watt more of the sun's
      energy than it is radiating back to space as heat a historically large
      imbalance. Such absorbed energy will steadily warm the atmosphere.

      The 0.85-watt figure corresponds well with the energy imbalance predicted
      by the researchers' supercomputer simulations of climate change, the
      report said.

      Those computer models factor in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
      including carbon dioxide, methane and other gases produced by everything
      from automobiles to pig farms. Those gases keep heat from escaping into
      space. Significantly, greenhouse emissions have increased at a rate
      consistent with the detected energy imbalance, the researchers said.

      "There can no longer be genuine doubt that human-made gases are the
      dominant cause of observed warming," said Hansen, director of NASA's
      Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University's Earth
      Institute. "This energy imbalance is the `smoking gun' that we have been
      looking for."

      Fourteen other specialists from NASA, Columbia and the Department of
      Energy co-authored the study.

      Scientists have found other possible "smoking guns" on global warming in
      recent years, but Klaus Hasselmann, a leading German climatologist,
      praised the Hansen report for its innovative work on energy imbalance.
      "This is valuable additional supporting evidence" of manmade climate
      change, he told The Associated Press.

      In February, scientists at San Diego's Scripps Institution of
      Oceanography said their research not yet published also showed a close
      correlation between climate models and the observed temperatures of
      oceans, further defusing skeptics' past criticism of uncertainties in

      Average atmospheric temperatures rose about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the
      20th century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a
      U.N.-organized network of scientists, says computer modeling predicts
      temperatures rising between 2.5 degrees and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by
      the year 2100.

      Besides raising ocean levels, global warming is expected to intensify
      storms, spread disease to new areas, and shift climate zones, possibly
      making farmlands drier and deserts wetter.
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