Thursday, July 21, 2005

rapid climate change, coming our way?

This article has some unsettling news as it describes how over recent decades researchers have come to realize that rapid climate change IS possible. Evidence in the Greenland icesheet and elsewhere supports the idea that major climactic shifts such as the end of ice ages can happen in just a hundred years or so -- and new thinking about possible feedback mechanisms (event that reinforce global warming) make experts believe even more rapid change could be afoot.

This quote chilled me: "Computer modelers, now fully alerted to the delicate balance of salinity and temperature that drove the North Atlantic circulation, found that global warming might bring future changes in precipitation that could shut down the current heat transport. The 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pronouncing the official consensus of the world's governments and their climate experts, reported that a shutdown in the coming century was "unlikely" but "cannot be ruled out." If such a shutdown did occur, it would change climates all around the North Atlantic--a dangerous cooling brought on by global warming.

Now that the ice had been broken, so to speak, most experts were prepared to consider that rapid climate change--huge and global change--could come at any time. "The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet," wrote the NAS committee in its 2002 report, "and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, . . . climate surprises are to be expected." Despite the profound implications of this new viewpoint, hardly anyone rose to dispute it."


And if you live somewhere that relies on the North Atlantic circulation -- that is, the Gulf Stream -- to keep warm, this could chill you, too. Because scientists who obviously haven't been listening to the Bush Adminstration have detected signs of a weakening of the Gulf Stream.

8 Comments:

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http://www.e-mediasurvey.com

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Honda fuel cell vehicles. Would you please complete the questionnaire
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Project Leader: Mavis Tsai, Ph.D.
Co-project Leader: Scott Warren, Ph.D.
Researchers: PingYuan Sun, BiTing Qiou, YunZe Que

Sponsorship:
UNIDO-ICHET
The CCS Global Group
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