A team of European scientists reports that climate change estimates for the next century may have substantially underestimated the potential magnitude of global warming. They say that actual warming due to human fossil fuel emissions may be 15-to-78 percent higher than warming estimates that do not take into account the feedback mechanism involving carbon dioxide and Earths temperature.
In a paper to be published on 26 May in Geophysical Research Letters, Marten Scheffer of Wageningen University in the Netherlands and colleagues at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the United Kingdom use newly acquired ancient climate data to quantify the two-way phenomenon by which greenhouse gases not only contribute to higher temperatures, but are themselves increased by the higher temperatures. This higher concentration leads to still higher temperatures, in what scientists call a positive feedback loop.
The researchers achieved their breakthrough by interpreting the high-resolution data from polar ice cores and temperature reconstructions based on geological proxy data in a new way. Although the effect of greenhouse gases on temperature is well known, the reverse effect is usually ignored. The latter has now been estimated through a correction of the past climate data, using a model of the greenhouse effect.
Jac Niessen | alfa
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