Tags: global | warming | cooling

Analysis Disputes U.N. Panel on Warming Culprit

Monday, 06 Oct 2008 04:12 PM

By Phil Brennan

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A new scientific analysis disputes a United Nations panel’s contention that rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are the culprit for increasing global temperatures.

Researchers David Douglass and John Christy, writing in a paper recently accepted for publication in a scientific journal and already available on the Internet, have come to a different conclusion, as reported on the jennifermarohasy.com/blog.

The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attributed rising temperatures to increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.

But Douglass and Christy considered other observations, and at different latitude bands, than the computer models the U.N. panel used. They concluded that:

  • The consequences of El Ninos and La Ninas in the tropics have a more significant effect on global temperature anomalies than carbon dioxide does. In particular, an El Nino event drove the 1998 global temperature maximum.

  • Variations in global temperatures since 1978 have resulted mostly from climate effects in the northern hemisphere (northern extratropics) and these effects cannot be attributed to carbon dioxide.

  • Carbon dioxide has contributed a small amount to an increase in global temperatures but without what is commonly referred to as feedback.

    Douglass is in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Rochester, N.Y., while Christy is with the Department of Atmospheric Science and Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama. Their paper, “Limits on CO2 Climate Forcing from Recent Temperature Data of Earth,” was accepted recently for publication in “Energy and Environment.”

    Despite continuing increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide since temperatures peaked in 1998, the global climate has entered a cooling trend many researchers insist will last for as long as another 30 years.

    For example, Don J. Easterbrook, a geology professor at Western Washington University, says global cooling began in 2002, was interrupted by the El Nino of 2005 and will continue, until 2040.

    For the whole time period from 2002-2040, Easterbrook expects a drop in temperature of about a half-degree Celsius (nine-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit). Recent studies and observations have shown a lack of (or at least not as many) sunspots, he said.

    That might be part of a bigger trend of lower sunspot activity (possibly similar to what happened from 1600 to 1700, when there were almost no sunspots), he said. Lower sunspot activity signifies that the sun is putting out slightly less energy, so the Earth receives less.

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