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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d95jul147

GCM support for greenhouse warming comes from two new, independent studies discussed in Science, pp. 1567-1568, June 16, 1995. Experiments with long model runs at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg indicate that the observed global warming of the past 30 years is unlikely to be a result of natural variability. And work by a group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory gives the best evidence yet that the geographic pattern of temperature change in the Northern Hemisphere can be explained by a greenhouse warming combined with the cooling effects of anthropogenic aerosols. The article emphasizes that neither study proves conclusively that greenhouse gases are changing the climate, but quotes Thomas Karl of the National Climatic Data Center as seeing a "shift in the overall scientific view" toward greenhouse warming. Two studies will be published in the Journal of Climate and Climate Dynamics, respectively.

Item #d95jul148

Malaria risk: Epidemics of malaria could appear in temperate parts of the world where the disease is now rare, according to projections done for the European Commission. (See New Scientist, pp. 4-5, May 13, 1995, and articles in Prof. Pubs./Gen. Interest/Health Impacts, this issue--July 1995.) The increased attention being paid to this and other potential health impacts of climate change is discussed in Science, pp. 957-958, Feb. 17, 1995.

Item #d95jul149

UV impacts in southern Chile: Several years ago, the popular press reported cases of human skin and eye diseases and blind sheep around Punta Arenas, Chile, that were attributed to increased ultraviolet radiation under the edge of the Antarctic ozone hole. A medical study reported in the American Journal of Public Health find no evidence of such claims. (See Prof. Pubs./Gen. Interest/Health Impacts, this issue--July 1995.)

Item #d95jul150

Boreal forest response: A study of tree growth in Alaska indicates that the response of trees to warming temperatures in recent decades is becoming more complex, and that negative effects of warming such as moisture stress and insect damage may be counteracting the positive impacts of warming there. (See Jacoby paper in Prof. Pubs./Gen. Interest/Temperature Trends, this issue (July 1995), and research summary in Science, p. 1595, Mar. 17, 1995.)

Item #d95jul151

Rice paddy methane emissions are actually only about a tenth the value most recently used by the IPCC and climate modelers, according to a new estimate from scientists in India. (See Sinha paper in Prof. Pubs./Gen. Interest/Greenhouse Gas Cycles, this issue--July 1995.) The finding has political ramifications for India, which would have difficulty reducing its already low CO2 emissions. (See Science, p. 1482, Dec. 2, 1994.)

Item #d95jul152

Ozone research update: The latest understanding and outstanding questions on stratospheric ozone depletion are discussed in a feature article by P.S. Zurer in Chem. Eng. News (pp. 20-23, June 12, 1995), based on an international review conference held in Halkidiki, Greece, in May. Scientists are still trying to grasp the exact nature of the stratospheric clouds crucial to the fate of ozone in polar regions; the dynamics of the stratosphere are incompletely understood; and questions persist about the mechanism of the gradual thinning of ozone over the northern mid-latitudes.

Item #d95jul153

Sun-climate relationships: Astronomers Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have found evidence in a sample of stars similar to the Sun that their brightness correlates with short spot cycles. This finding supports a theory published in 1991 that the Earth's climate has been warmer during short sunspot cycles because of increased solar output. Their results will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Item #d95jul154

El Niño-seismicity link? Daniel Walker, a geophysicist at the University of Hawaii, has developed a controversial theory that El Niño events are initiated by volcanic activity on the Pacific floor, which raises water temperatures enough to start the chain of events that alters temperature and precipitation over large parts of the globe. (See The New York Times, pp. C1, C7, Apr. 25, 1995.) The theory, which is not widely accepted at present, is inconsistent with recent speculation that the lingering El Niño event of the past few years could be a reflection of global warming. (Walker replies to a scientific comment on the theory in Eos, p. 175, Apr. 25, 1995.)

Item #d95jul155

"Carbon Dioxide Marches to an Uneven Beat," R. Monastersky, Science News, p. 390, June 24, 1995. Changes in the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 observed over the past decade may result from climate-related fluctuations in the role of ocean and land surfaces in the carbon cycle. (See Keeling paper in Prof. Pubs./Gen. Interest/Greenhouse Gas Cycles, this issue--July 1995.)

Item #d95jul156

"Meltdown Warning as Tropical Glaciers Trickle Away," H. Goss, New Scientist, p. 18, June 24, 1995. Two Australian scientists find that glaciers in Indonesia have receded 45 meters per year over the past two decades; global warming may be to blame. Their paper will appear in Zeitschrift für Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie.

Item #d95jul157

"Signs of Unsteady Climate Appear in Ice," R. Monastersky, Science News, p. 342, June 3, 1995. At the latest American Geophysical Union meeting, researchers presented GISP 2 ice core evidence of a widespread, century-long cool period 8,200 years ago during the Holocene, the current interglacial usually considered to be immune to the erratic temperature shifts that have been detected during glacial intervals. Evidence of several other, more dramatic coolings during the Holocene is still under study.

Item #d95jul158

"New Theory on Ice Sheet Catastrophe Is the Direst One Yet," W. Sullivan, The New York Times, p. C4, May 2, 1995. The stability of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet was debated at a workshop of specialists held in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in April. At issue was a theory that global warming could cause the ice sheet or large parts of it to slip into the sea. A shedding of one-third of the sheet would raise sea level more than 150 feet, a much greater impact than the 20-foot rise that would result from melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

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