Earth as a different planet

October 18, 2006

//pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2006/oct/science/cc_earth.html

Drastic changes are only 1 °C away, a team led by a NASA scientist concludes.

The earth is the warmest it has been in the past 10,000 years, according to a new analysis that warns of serious changes ahead.

Global surface temperature has increased by about 0.2 °C per decade in the past 30 years, researchers note in the September 25 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This warming is larger in the Western Equatorial Pacific than in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific, a change that may have increased the likelihood of strong El Niño events, such as those of 1983 and 1998.

The paper, by James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and colleagues from Columbia University Earth Institute; Sigma Space Partners, Inc.; and the University of California, Santa Barbara, updates an analysis of surface-temperature change based on instrumental data and observed temperature change made in the 1980s.

The team predicts that if temperatures rise 1 °C, changes will occur rapidly and result in a “different” planet. “Given that a large portion of human-made CO2 will remain in the air for many centuries, sensible policies must focus on devising energy strategies that greatly reduce CO2 emissions,” the team concludes.


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