Global warming: and now for the really bad news


New evidence suggests global warming from fossil fuel emissions could be up to 78 per cent higher than previously believed, lending weight to claims that Australia should strongly back non-emitting energy sources such as nuclear and solar power, reported The Australian (21 June 2006, p.38).

Worse than expected: When combined with other findings, the article said, the results from Dutch climate expert Marten Scheffer and his British and German colleagues mean the planet may be an average of nearly 8C warmer by the end of the century.

Back to the drawing board for atmospheric modellers: That estimate fits with a report from the Australian National University, showing that global warming could heat the world as much as 5.8C. Computer models had predicted temperature increases of 1.5C to 4.5C.

Aust in the gun: Australia may be hard hit as the atmosphere is heating up faster in subtropical areas, experts at Seattle’s University of Washington reported in Science magazine.

Positive feedback the hidden problem: Dr Scheffer and his team of Wageningen University agreed with scientists from the University of California at Berkeley that present predictions don’t take into account a "positive feedback" mechanism involving greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

Magnitude of problem under-estimated: "We are underestimating the magnitude of warming because we’re ignoring the extra carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere because of warming [itself]," he said.

Ice core data: Dr Scheffer and his team used new data, obtained from polar ice cores, about temperature and atmospheric gases during the Little Ice Age (1550-1850). Reports will be printed in Geophysical Research Letters.

The Australian, 21/6/2006, p. 38

Source: Erisk Net  

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