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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

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



Item #d99jan1

“The 1997 Kyoto Protocol: What Does It Mean for Project-Based Climate Change Mitigation?” M. C. Trexler and L.H. Kosloff,Mitigation & Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 3 (1), 1-58 (1998).

The literature on joint implementation and on activities implemented jointly was searched, and many potential barriers to large-scale, cost-effective emissions reductions through project-based mitigation under the Kyoto Protocol were found. A computer model was used to analyze decision-making criteria and methods that might be used in selecting ways to meet responsibilities under the accord. Those simulations revealed many aspects that would hinder project-based activities from contributing to countries’ credits toward greenhouse-gas reductions. Typical complications identified were restriction impositions, heightened additionality standards, across-the-board discounting to account for immeasurables (leakage, uncertainty, etc.), bureaucratic overhead, surcharges from developing countries, dilution of benefits, and leakage adjustments.

Item #d99jan2

“An }15,000-Year Record of El Niño-Driven Alluviation in Southwestern Equador,” D. T. Rodbell ( et al.,Science 283, 516-520 (Jan. 22, 1999).

A 9.2-m-long core was taken in an alpine lake 75 km inland from the Pacific Ocean. It reflected a 15,000-year sedimentological record. The Holocene section contained hundreds of light-colored, inorganic, clastic laminae alternated with thicker, dark, organic-rich laminae. The clastic laminae were produced by alluvial deposition during extended stormy seasons. Their ages were determined by carbon-dating the interspersed organic layers to produce a high- resolution storm record. That record appears to represent El Niño events because those laminae less than 200 years old match the historic El Niño record. From 15 to 7 ka BP, the El Niño events occur every 15 years or more. From 7 to 5 ka BP, the frequency changes to an event every 2 to 8.5 years. That rate has remained the same from 5 ka BP to the present.

Item #d99jan3

“Air Traffic May Increase Cirrus Cloudiness,” Olivier Boucher (,Nature 397, 30-31 (Jan. 7, 1999).

Synoptic cloud reports for 1982 to 1991 and aviation-fuel-consumption reports for the same period were used to plot average change in cirrus occurrence against fuel consumption by airplanes. When the data were broken down into grid cells on maps, they indicated that high-level cirrus clouds increased in occurrence and coverage in the major air- traffic corridors over North America, the North Atlantic, and Eurasia in all seasons. It was conjectured that moisture and exhaust particles from the jet engines produced cloud condensation nuclei to contribute to the cirrus formation. Other possible causes were ruled out as reasonable explanations. The trend in cirrus coverage was quantified and used to estimate an increase in cloud radiative forcing of about 0.7 W/m2 between 1982 and 1991.

Item #d99jan4

“Rapid Fluctuations in Sea Level Recorded at Huon Peninsula During the Penultimate Deglaciation,” T. M. Esat et al.,Science 283, 197-201 (Jan. 8, 1999).

A coral reef in Papua New Guinea that has been uplifted by tectonic forces presents a record of sea level and indications of ocean temperature from 116 ka BP to 136 ka BP. That 20 ka period included the Last Interglacial. The coral deposits were drilled, facies analyzed, and dated by measuring the 234U/238U ratio. The 1.6 to 1.9 m/ka tectonic uplift was corrected for, the depths at which the corals grew was taken into account, and the height of sea level was calculated and correlated with the ages determined for the corals. The data indicate that sea level fluctuated (up and down and up again) 60 to 80 meters before stabilizing during the Last Interglacial at levels 3 to 5 m above current values. This fluctuation indicates a rapid but short return to glacial conditions during the warming period. After the last Interglacial (starting 122 ka BP), sea level declined, but not without small, rapid reversals reflecting meltwater pulses from the collapse of major ice sheets.

Item #d99jan5

“Coral Record of Equatorial Sea-Surface Temperatures During the Penultimate Deglaciation at Huon Peninsula,”

H. T. McCulloch et al., Science 283, 202-204 (Jan. 8, 1999).

Measurements of oxygen isotopic ratios and of Sr/Ca ratios of coral terraces at Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea indicate that a rapid but short-lived reversal of the warming trend leading into the Last Interglacial (a reversal similar to the Younger-Dryas event) cooled sea-surface temperatures at that location to 22° C, about 7° C colder than the temperatures during the Last Interglacial and current periods.

Item #d99jan6

“Grassland Vegetation Changes and Nocturnal Global Warming,” R. D. Alward, J. K. Detling, and D. G. Milchunas,Science 283, 229-231(Jan. 8, 1999).

Globally, overnight low temperatures are increasing faster than daytime highs. Because the ecosystem of the U.S. Central Plains grassland steppe is potentially sensitive to increased overnight temperatures, long-term data sets of several vegetation variables were examined to identify any correlations between the values for these variables and the increasing nighttime temperatures. Increased nighttime temperatures during the spring were correlated with decreased net primary productivity by the dominant C4 grass of the ecosystem and with increased abundance and productivity by C3 forbs, degrading the quality of the forage and making the ecosystem vulnerable to invasion by exotic species.

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