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Climate Change Skeptics TKO

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  • npat1@juno.com
    Excerpt: The result is more consensus than ever that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases are noticeably altering climate.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 17, 2003
      Excerpt: "The result is more consensus than ever that emissions of
      carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases are noticeably
      altering climate."

      Climate Change Skeptics TKO

      One of the last gaps in the evidence pointing to a human cause for global
      warming appears to be closing.

      A re-examination of 24 years of data from weather satellites has found
      that temperatures are rising in the lower layer of the atmosphere, called
      the troposphere, at a rate that is consistent with what has been measured
      at the earth's surface.
      The result is more consensus than ever that emissions of carbon dioxide
      and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases are noticeably altering climate.

      The findings, after a year of review and debate at workshops, appear in
      the current issue of The Journal of Climate. Dr. Thomas R. Karl, the
      director of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., called
      the new work "a significant step forward," but stressed that more work
      would be necessary to reconcile the persistent differences between
      computer models of the climate and the real thing. The new study, done by
      private satellite experts at Remote Sensing Systems for the National
      Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Commerce Department, has not
      quelled doubters. But several experts not associated with the work said
      it had pushed the satellite record of recent warming more in line with
      what computer simulations had projected.Dr. Frank J. Wentz, an author of
      the study and the director of the research firm, said continuing
      refinements in climate models had also brought the computer projections
      more in line with what the measurements were showing."The controversy is
      somewhat going away," Dr. Wentz said. "As time has gone on, the
      disconnect between the satellites and the models has gotten smaller and
      smaller."Dr. John R. Christy, a University of Alabama at Huntsville
      scientist whose group was the first to analyze the satellite data for
      climate clues, agreed that the gap between models and measurements was
      closing somewhat. But he added that the evidence was pointing more firmly
      toward a modest impact from rising greenhouse gases.Dr. Christy, who has
      long been an outspoken critic of catastrophic climate predictions, said,
      "We've had enough years of this human-induced forcing to get some
      boundaries on it, and it's just not going in the dramatic and
      catastrophic direction."Other scientists who have assessed the satellite
      findings, old and new, cautioned that no one should draw any conclusion
      about the prospect for significant climate shifts from subtle trends in
      surface or air temperature trends over a few decades.Dr. Roger A. Pielke
      Sr., a climatologist at Colorado State who participated in a workshop
      last month assessing the new paper and other work assessing temperature
      trends, said the climate system had a tendency to jump from one steady
      state to another."It is characterized by rapid shifts, rather than smooth
      changes," he said.Dr. Christy and Dr. Roy W. Spencer, at NASA's Marshall
      Space Flight Center in Huntsville, pioneered efforts to sift
      weather-satellite data for clues to longer-term temperature trends. The
      data are notoriously difficult to deal with because they were gathered by
      a dozen satellites launched over several decades with different kinds of
      instruments. In a number of cases, one satellite sometimes overlapped
      with its predecessor for only a short time, preventing adequate
      cross-checking of their readings.Adjustments to calculations had to be
      made for all manner of variables, including the tendency of the
      satellites to tip and drift up and down and east and west, distorting
      readings.Initially, Dr. Christy and his group found that the lower
      troposphere was actually cooling, and not warming, drawing strong
      interest in their work from companies and elected officials questioning
      whether global warming was happening.More recently, as Dr. Christy and
      his team took into account factors that could distort the readings, they
      concluded that there had been a slight, but inconsequential warming. The
      new analysis was begun several years ago by Remote Sensing Systems and
      the two groups have increasingly shared data over the past year. The rate
      of warming calculated by the new group is higher than the old analysis by
      just a sixth of a degree per decade.But that adds up over time to a trend
      that is consistent with what some computer simulations say would occur
      under the influence of building greenhouse-gas concentrations, Dr. Wentz
      said.Dr. Christy says his work matches up much better with readings taken
      by an independent method, instrument-laden balloons launched from
      hundreds of weather stations.But other scientists said the
      balloon-gathered data were spotty and inconsistent as well, and did not
      provide a useful yardstick. Some scientists said the most valuable result
      of the new analysis of the satellite record was to take it out of the
      realm of politicized science. Now, they said, it is simply one more data
      set in the broader body of evidence pointing in a generally warmer
      direction in years to come. The only way to improve understanding of the
      causes and consequences of warming, Dr. Karl said, will be to look for
      clues in many places at once ��� melting glaciers, ocean temperatures and
      satellites, among others ��� and not rely on a lone line of evidence."The
      whole issue of global climate change is weighing evidence," he said. "Any
      conclusion will ultimately have to look like the results of a
      100-question test. If you get a 90, you're probably on track."


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