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Future Climate Could be Hotter than Thought - Study

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  • mtneuman@juno.com
    Future Climate Could be Hotter than Thought - Study ... UK: June 30, 2005 LONDON - Global temperatures in the future could be much hotter than scientists have
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2005
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      Future Climate Could be Hotter than Thought - Study
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      UK: June 30, 2005


      LONDON - Global temperatures in the future could be much hotter than
      scientists have predicted if new computer models on climate change are
      correct, researchers said on Wednesday.


      Improvements in air quality will lead to a decrease in aerosols, small
      particles in the atmosphere that act as a brake on the impact of
      greenhouse gases. As the effect of aerosols lessen, searing temperatures
      could follow.
      "This new way of integrating the aerosol, greenhouse gas and biosphere
      effects changes the picture from one where climate change most likely is
      a fairly tolerable thing to one where there is a fairly high risk of
      change sooner, and to a higher degree," said Professor Meinrat Andreae.

      The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a rise in
      global temperatures from a doubling of carbon dioxide could be in the
      range of 1.5-4.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But according
      to calculations by Andreae and his team, the upper figure could be as
      high as 6 degrees.

      "That's quite a lot," the professor from the Max Planck Institute for
      Chemistry in Mainz, Germany said in an interview.

      Andreae compared greenhouse gases to an accelerator that is speeding up
      global warming, while the aerosols act as a type of brake.

      "The actual true force of the greenhouse gases has been masked by the
      effects of the aerosols. They put a brake on warming and we don't really
      know how strong that brake is," said Andreae, who reported his findings
      in the journal Nature.

      Scientists have warned that severe climate change could lead to a rise in
      sea levels, flooding, severe droughts and the loss of crop and animals
      species.

      Aerosols are small particles and droplets in the air from combustion
      processes, chemicals and smoke. As regulatory agencies issue new air
      purity controls, the amount of aerosols will diminish so their cooling
      effect will be smaller.

      Aerosols stay in the atmosphere for about a week but greenhouse gases
      accumulate over about 50 years. The aerosol brake is going to come off
      faster than the decrease in greenhouse gases.

      "Because one is cumulative and the other is not, the cumulative will
      always win out in the long run," said Andreae.

      He admitted it was a situation of high scientific uncertainty. But if his
      calculations are correct, climate change in the 21 century could reach
      the upper extremes or exceed the IPCC estimates.

      "Such a degree of climate change is so far outside the range covered by
      experience and scientific understanding that we cannot with any
      confidence predict the consequences for the Earth system," Andreae said
      in the journal.

      Story by Patricia Reaney
      http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/31472/story.htm
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