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A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
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Item #d96apr1

Three related items in Nature, 380(6573), Apr. 4, 1996:

"Raising Dust in the Greenhouse," M.O. Andreae (Dept. Biogeochem., M. Planck Inst. Chem., POB 3060, D-55020 Mainz, Ger.), 389-390. Discusses the following two papers, which demonstrate that the amount of dust in the atmosphere is increasing, largely because of human activity. Its climatic importance is becoming clear, and heightens rather than reduces our concern about anthropogenic climate change. Badly needed is an observational system that will allow scientists 30 years from now to assess whether aerosol burdens have changed.

"Dominance of Mineral Dust in Aerosol Light-Scattering in the North Atlantic Trade Winds," X. Li (Sch. Marine & Atmos. Sci., Univ. Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami FL 33149), H. Maring et al., 416-419. Recent studies of the effect of dust on climate have focused on anthropogenic sulfate aerosols and have largely ignored mineral dust. Measurements reported here show that the net scattering of light by North African mineral dust delivered to Barbados by the trade winds is about four times that by non-seasalt sulfate aerosols. Mineral dust could be an important climate forcing agent over this ocean region and others. Although a natural substance, emissions of dust are increasing, in part from human activity.

"The Influence of Climate Forcing of Mineral Aerosols from Disturbed Soils," I. Tegen (Dept. Applied Phys., Columbia Univ., 2880 Broadway, New York NY 10025), A.A. Lacis, I. Fung, 419-422. Previous work has shown that a large fraction of tropospheric aerosol consists of wind-blown mineral dust originating from soils disturbed by human activity or by drought or rain. This study uses a radiative transfer model embedded in a general circulation model to show that dust from disturbed soils causes a decrease of the net surface radiation forcing of about 1 W m-2, accompanied by increased atmospheric heating that may be a significant forcing of atmospheric dynamics.

Item #d96apr2

"Warm Climate Surprises," J.T. Overpeck (Paleoclim. Prog., NGDC, NOAA, 325 Broadway, Boulder CO 80303), Science, 271(5257), 1820-1821, Mar. 29, 1996.

Reviews growing paleoclimatic evidence that, even in the absence of human forcing, warm interglacial climates (such as the present Holocene) are capable of generating significant decade- to century-scale climatic surprises, which may be our biggest worry in the years to come. We are beginning to be able to map the patterns of these variations, but unraveling their causes remains a major challenge. If the climate system also turns out to be highly sensitive to elevated trace gas concentrations, we may be confronted with modes of climate variability without precedent.

Item #d96apr3

"Towards the Detection and Attribution of an Anthropogenic Effect on Climate," B.D. Santer (Clim. Model Diagnosis Prog., Lawrence-Livermore Natl. Lab., POB 808, Livermore CA 94550), K.E. Taylor et al., Clim. Dynamics, 12(2), 77-100, Dec. 1995.

Describes a further contribution toward distinguishing the climatic effects of sulfate particles from those of greenhouse gases. Recent progress on this topic was first announced at the Berlin climate treaty meeting last spring, and was a major factor in the latest IPCC assessment of the science of climate change. [See Global Climate Change Digest, Sep. 1995 for related paper by Mitchell et al. (Prof. Pubs./of General Interest/Clouds and aerosols), and related news note]. Results of model experiments in which sulfate and CO2 were varied individually and in combination were analyzed using pattern similarity statistics, and compared with observed changes in patterns of surface temperature change. Provides the first evidence that both large scale (global mean) and smaller scale components of a combined CO2/anthropogenic sulfate aerosol signal are identifiable in the temperature record.

Item #d96apr4

Three related contributions to the New Directions section of Atmos. Environ., 30, 1996. The first is a scientific perspective; the other two give contrasting views representative of the regulatory authorities and agricultural users. (Contributions to New Directions, under 1000 words, should be sent electronically to NEW.DIRECTIONS@UEA.AC.UK. Contact W. Sturges at tel: 44 1603 592018; e-mail: W.STRUGES@UEA.AC.UK; or A. Lefohn at tel: 406 443 3389; e-mail: ALLENLEFOHN@DELPHI.COM.)

"Scientific Uncertainties in the Budget of Atmospheric Methyl Bromide," J.H. Butler (CMDL, NOAA 325 Broadway, Boulder CO 80303), 30(7), ii-iii.

"Methyl Bromide—Pesticide and Environmental Threat," W. Thomas (Methyl Bromide Prog., Stratospheric Protection Div., US EPA, 401 M St. SW, Washington, D.C.), 30(8), i-ii.

"Do We Need Further Controls of Agricultural Methyl Bromide?" T. Duafala (Methyl Bromide Global Coalition, POB 1327, Hollister CA 95204), iii-iv, ibid.

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