Warming land and ocean surfaces, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and other recent evidence strongly suggest that Earths climate is already changing rapidly because of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, according to Warren Washington, senior scientist and head of the Climate Change Research Group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Computer models of Earths climate support these observations, he says, and indicate more severe changes yet to come.
Even if societies successfully cap worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the global climate will continue to warm into the 22nd century, though at a slower rate than if no attempt is made to control the emissions, Washington says. Policy makers must prepare to adapt to a changing climate even while slowing the greenhouse gas buildup, he says. Washington will present these conclusions in his talk, "Predicting the Climate of the 21st Century," at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Denver on February 16.
"Scientific confidence in the ability of models to project future climate has increased," says Washington. "Meanwhile, recent experiments and routine monitoring have found evidence of global climate changes already occurring that are much larger than can be explained by the climates natural variability." In his talk, Washington will explain how a computer model of global climate works and highlight what the most sophisticated models in the United States and elsewhere are now telling us about present and future climate.
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