A new study using a computer climate model to simulate the last 50 years of climate changes, projects warming over the next 50 years regardless of whether or not nations curb their greenhouse gas emissions soon. If no emission reductions are made and they continue to increase at the current rate, global temperatures may increase by 1-2 degrees Celsius [2-4 degrees Fahrenheit]. But if the growth rate of carbon dioxide does not exceed its current rate and if the growth of true air pollutants (substances that are harmful to human health) is reversed, temperatures may rise by only 0.75 degrees Celsius [1.4 degrees Fahrenheit].
"Some continued global warming will occur, probably about 0.5 degrees Celsius [0.9 degrees Fahrenheit] even if the greenhouse gases in the air do not increase further, but the warming could be much less than the worst case scenarios," says James E. Hansen, lead researcher on the study at NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), in New York, New York. The research was a collaborative effort among 19 institutions, including seven universities, federal agencies, private industry and other NASA centers, and was funded by NASA. The results appear this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, published by the American Geophysical Union.
The GISS SI2000 climate model provided a convincing demonstration that global temperature change of the past half-century was mainly a response to climate forcing agents, or imposed perturbations of the Earths energy balance, according to the researchers. This was especially true of human-made forcings, such as carbon dioxide and methane, which trap the Earths heat radiation as a blanket traps body heat; thus causing warming.
Harvey Leifert | EurekAlert!
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