History of the Polar Regions|
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 97 17:12:21 CST
From: Mark Graffis <email@example.com>
Subject: ARCTIC CLIMATE CHANGING RAPIDLY
Posted to the web: Fri Nov 14 13:07:06 EST 1997
Arctic Climate Changing Rapidly
From Environment News Service (ENS)
14 November 1997
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 14, 1997 (ENS) - Two scientists who have
measured glaciers, examined ice samples and sampled sediments at lake
bottoms in the Arctic over the past 10 years say they have proof that
Earth's temperature is rising and that "scares" them.
"I'm worried. I fear what the consequences of that (global warming)
will be," Raymond Bradley, chair of the geosciences department at the
University of Massachusetts, said at a news conference Thursday
announcing publication of an article in the journal Science. Science
is a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science, a U.S. journal that publishes research only after it is
reviewed for soundness and clarity by other scientists.
Jonathan Overpeck, another of the paper's authors, said, "What we're
talking about is...climate changing rapidly. That can't help but scare
Overpeck, head of the paleoclimatology program at the U.S. National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Bradley were part of a
team of 18 scientists from Canada, Russia and the United States who
have been examining the environment in the Arctic.
The most striking change revealed by looking at the land, sea and ice
in the Arctic is the warming by 1 to 3 degrees Celsius in various
parts of the polar region since the mid-1800s.
About half of this increase is due to natural causes such as greater
energy bursts from the sun. But the other half of the temperature rise
is due to factories, homes, offices and power plants burning coal and
oil, which produces carbon dioxide, Overpeck said. That gas, and some
others produced in agriculture and mining, act like the glass in
greenhouses, trapping much of the heat rising from Earth.
Swedish scientist Svante Ahrrenius warned back in 1898 that carbon
dioxide emissions could lead to global warming. It was not until the
1970s that a growing understanding of Earth's atmosphere system
brought his concern to wider attention.
In 1990, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPPC) confirmed the scientific basis for climate change. More than
2,000 scientists warned in an IPPC study published in 1995 that these
emissions, if unchecked, could raise the planet's average temperature
1.5 to 3 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
This rise in global temperature could raise sea levels 15 to 95
centimeters, change rainfall patterns, increase the severity of storms
and spread tropical diseases to what were the cooler parts of the
globe, the IPPC study said.
More than 150 countries have been trying for the past two years to
negotiate a binding target and timetables to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions as part of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, an
international treaty. The concluding round of the talks is scheduled
for Kyoto, Japan, December 1-10, but the United States, the 15 nations
in the European Union (EU) and developing countries are still far
apart on what should be done.
The Arctic research team was able to put together a 400-year climate
record from studying tree rings, ice cores and lake sediments. Average
temperatures are now the warmest in this period, which has
dramatically shortened glaciers, reduced the amount of ice covering
the seas around the pole and thawed much of the frozen layer of soil
in the region.
The models created in supercomputers to mimic the climate of Earth and
to predict the effects of increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in
the atmosphere show that most of the projected warming of Earth would
take place in the northern parts of Europe, Asia and North America.
A small group of scientists has been arguing that these computer
models do not accurately portray what is happening in real life, and
that there is no possibility of disruptive global warming.
Overpeck and Bradley believe that their study not only indicates an
"unprecedented" warming of the North Pole region, but also that the
glacier retreats and melting of frozen land show the first clear signs
that man-made greenhouse gases have begun to affect the planet's
"Our study is the best one to date that...says it probably already is
happening," Overpeck said.
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