Zeroing in on Climate Change

Zimmer, Carl
December 2003
Newsweek (Pacific Edition);12/1/2003 (Pacific Edition), Vol. 142 Issue 22, p41
Studies suggest that even a modest rise in temperature would make the global average as high as it has been in the last 150,000 years. Although temperature measurements taken on the ground have shown a clear warming trend at least back to the 1950s, important satellite data have until now shown no evidence of warming. In an analysis of the data going back 24 years, it was found that the atmosphere has been warming about 0.1 degrees Celsius per decade. That data has become another piece of evidence confirming a rise in the temperature in the past few decades. The study concentrated on a set of NASA satellites that beam back temperature measurements of Earth's troposphere. Researchers worked with U.S. government scientists to compare their new analysis with computer programs that re-create the past century of climate change, absent the action of carbon dioxide emissions. By the end of the 20th century, they concluded, the patterns of temperatures had drifted significantly higher than natural variability. Studies of ancient climates suggest that there is a risk that ice shelves will begin to melt, raising sea levels and flooding coastlines.


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