Tuesday :: Aug 15, 2006

Global Warming Update


by Mary

Despite what Mr Bush believes, the evidence that the world is warming continues to grow. Today National Geographic reported that a new method of communicating global warming effects has been devised by a University of Bristol research team. Their paper is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. As Marko Scholze, the study's lead author, says, it is important to find a way to provide some guidelines that can describe what's the potential impact of global warming by giving some indication of what would happen if the earth warmed more than 3 degree's C or less.

"The most important message from the paper is that with stronger global warming, the risk of severe events becomes much more pronounced," said the study's lead author, Marko Scholze of the University of Bristol's QUEST (Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System) project.

In the past, making climate-change projections has been complicated by the fact that different models produce different answers.

So rather than trying to pick one "best" climate model, Scholze's team looked at the degree to which 52 previous forecasts were in agreement.

The result, Scholze says, is like a weather report.

"[Weather forecasters] don't say, It's likely to rain tomorrow," he said. "They say, There's a 50 percent probability. It's the same with our paper."

In other news, the ice shield in Greenland is melting faster than current models predicted. This is worrying because the ice melt directly contributes to raising sea levels.

The Chinese government has determined that the killer typhoons that have been ravaging China this year are linked to global warming.

Meanwhile, as some areas of China are hit by more typhoons and the resulting floods, other areas are suffering from intense drought, which experts say is another by-product of global warming.

In a landmark report in the mid-1990s, the UN panel on climate change predicted that global warming would leave southern China drenched with more rains, while the north and west of the country would suffer worsening droughts.

In Sichuan Province, directly to the west of where much of the devastation from the typhoons has occurred, nearly seven million people are currently inurgent need of drinking water due to a severe drought, state press said on Friday.

In the southwestern city of Chongqing, the drought is beginning to threaten the water supply for about 17 million people, according to another state press report.

Finally, most of the discussion around global warming has been due to the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, the warming that has already taken place has increased the amount of methane being put into the atmosphere and this is where things get really bad for us.

Scientists are becoming increasingly troubled at the increased rate at which methane is accumulating in the atmosphere -- an annual rate of 2 percent. The alarm bells are ringing because methane is capable of trapping heat at least 20 times more effectively than carbon dioxide and remains in the atmosphere from 15 to 20 years after it is released.

We already know that the destruction of tropical forests has resulted in the increase of dead plant material on the surface of the soil. This, in turn, has brought about an increase in termite populations and with it an increase in methane.

Another source of concern is the effect of global warming on the Arctic regions. Temperatures in the Arctic have increased by nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit since the mid-1950s. Computer models predict that the Arctic Ocean's sea ice could disappear within 70 years. The Arctic permafrost (frozen subsoil) is also melting at a surprising rate. Massive amounts of methane have been trapped in the permafrost for millions of years and estimates go as high as 400 billion tons.

If global warming is not contained, we may reach a point where substantial amounts of methane could be released into the atmosphere. This worries many in the scientific community because it is believed that the extinction of more than 90 percent of marine species some 250 million years ago was the result of the release of massive amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

The lethal effects of global warming mean that we should be taking it as a bigger threat to our existence than any terrorist organization could be. When do you think bubble boy will figure that out?

Mary :: 12:42 PM :: Comments (14) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!