'Smoking gun' on humans and global warming claimed
NASA-led scientists say ocean data ties manmade emissions to warmer Earth
Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prepare to launch a "profiling float" in the tropical Pacific. The float is one of hundreds used around the world to monitor climate change and which were instrumental for a new report on warming and human greenhouse gas emissions.
Using ocean data collected by diving floats, U.S. climate scientists released a study Thursday that they said provides the "smoking gun" that ties manmade greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.
The researchers, some of them working for NASA and the Energy Department, went a step further, implicitly criticizing President Bush for not taking stronger action to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.
They said the findings confirm that computer models of climate change are on target and that global temperatures will rise 1 degree Fahrenheit this century, even if greenhouse gases are capped tomorrow.
If emissions instead continue to grow, as expected, things could spin “out of our control,” especially as ocean levels rise from melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the NASA-led scientists said. "The climate system could reach a point where large sea level change is practically impossible to avoid."
The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, is the latest to report growing certainty about global warming projections.
Computer models, which are numerical simulations of climate change, factor in many influences on climate, including greenhouse emissions. Such gases, produced naturally but also by humans burning fossil fuels, trap heat as they accumulate in the atmosphere.
'Can no longer be genuine doubt'
Significantly, those emissions have increased at a rate consistent with the detected energy imbalance, the researchers said.
“There can no longer be genuine doubt that humanmade gases are the dominant cause of observed warming,” said Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “This energy imbalance is the ‘smoking gun’ that we have been looking for.”
Fourteen other specialists from NASA, Columbia University and the Department of Energy co-authored the study.
Scientists have found other possible “smoking guns” on global warming in recent years, but Klaus Hasselmann, a leading German climatologist, praised the new report for its innovative work on energy imbalance. “This is valuable additional supporting evidence” of manmade climate change, he told The Associated Press.
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