Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New View On The Culprits Of Climate Change

Date:
August 30, 2000
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
For many years, researchers agreed that climate change was triggered by what they called "greenhouse gases," with carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas, playing the biggest role. However, new research suggests fossil fuel burning may not be as important in the mechanics of climate change as previously thought.

Since climate change affects everyone on Earth, scientists have been trying to pinpoint its causes. For many years, researchers agreed that climate change was triggered by what they called "greenhouse gases," with carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas, playing the biggest role. However, new research suggests fossil fuel burning may not be as important in the mechanics of climate change as previously thought.

NASA funded research by Dr. James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, and his colleagues, suggests that climate change in recent decades has been mainly caused by air pollution containing non-CO2 greenhouse gases, particularly tropospheric ozone, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and black carbon (soot) particles.

Since 1975, global surface temperatures have increased by about 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, a trend that has taken global temperatures to their highest level in the past millennium. "Our estimates of global climate forcings, or factors that promote warming, indicate that it is the processes producing non-CO2 greenhouse gases that have been more significant in climate change," Hansen said.

"The good news is that the growth rate of non-CO2 greenhouse gases has declined in the past decade, and if sources of methane and tropospheric ozone were reduced in the future, further changes in climate due to these gases in the next 50 years could be near zero," Hansen explained. "If these reductions were coupled with a reduction in both particles of black carbon and CO2 gas emissions, this could lead to a decline in the rate of climate change."

Black carbon particles are generated by burning coal and diesel fuel and cause a semi-direct reduction of cloud cover. This reduction in cloud cover is an important factor in Earth's radiation balance, because clouds reflect 40 percent to 90 percent of the Sun's radiation depending on their type and thickness. Black carbon emission is not an essential element of energy production and it can be reduced or eliminated with improved technology.

Hansen's research looked at trends in various greenhouse gases and noted that the growth rate of CO2 in the atmosphere doubled between 1950 and 1970, but leveled off from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.

The other critical piece of information this research is based on, in addition to greenhouse gas levels, is observed heat storage, or warmer ocean temperatures, over the last century. Heat storage in the ocean provides a consistency check on climate change. The ocean is the only place that energy forms an imbalance. In this case a warming can accumulate, and global ocean data reveals that ocean heat content has increased between the mid-1950s and the mid-1990s.

Hansen's paper, "Global Warming in the 21st Century an Alternate Scenario," will appear in the August 29th version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information on the paper can be found at: http://www.pnas.org/papbyrecent.html.

NASA's Office of Earth Sciences, Headquarters, Washington, DC, sponsor research that studies how human-induced and natural changes affect our global environment. For more information about the Earth Sciences Enterprise, please see: http://www.earth.nasa.gov.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "New View On The Culprits Of Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000830073152.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2000, August 30). New View On The Culprits Of Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000830073152.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "New View On The Culprits Of Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000830073152.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins