New NASA Study Warns Of Climate Change’s Pace
By Staff (CBS) - March 11, 2014
NASA jumped back into the discussion of global climate change Tuesday with a new study that showed Earth’s climate will experience roughly 20 percent more warming than estimates originally stated, despite a recent slowdown.
NASA said the new predictions were based on more detailed calculations of the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to factors like greenhouse gas emissions, which help warm the planet.
Global temperatures have risen at a rate of 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1951. But according to NASA, since 1998 the rate slowed to 0.09 per decade, despite an increase in some greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
Some studies have since suggested greenhouse gases may not impact Earth as much as previously thought. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agreed and slightly lowered the range of Earth’s potential warming.
The new research focused on what’s called Earth’s “transient climate response.” This measurement looks at how temperatures will change as carbon dioxide increases until the total amount of carbon dioxide has doubled.
Previous estimates put the transient climate response at anywhere from 1.8 degrees to 2.52 degrees Fahrenheit. According to NASA’s new study, the transient climate response is approximately 3.06 degrees and not likely to fall below 2.34 degrees Fahrenheit.
The study focused on looking at how aerosols from natural sources like volcanoes and wildfire combined with manufacturing activities, cars, and energy production interacted. NASA said depending on the make-up of the aerosols, some cause warming and some cause cooling.
According to the study, the Northern Hemisphere will likely see more of an impact from aerosols as most man-made aerosols are released from industrial zones north of the equator and most of Earth’s landmasses are in the Northern Hemisphere.
“I kept thinking, we know the Northern Hemisphere has a disproportionate effect, and some pollutants are unevenly distributed,” the study’s author, climatologist Drew Shindell said. “But we don’t take that into account. I wanted to quantify how much the location mattered.”
Shindell said that based on his calculations, industrialized countries must reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the higher end of proposed restrictions to avoid the most damaging consequences of climate change.