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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d95aug95

Montreal Protocol working: New measurements of the atmospheric abundance of methyl chloroform, a compound having only anthropogenic origin, show that it started to decline in late 1991 after a steady increase since 1978. The same study shows that the levels of hydroxyl radical in the atmosphere are 20% higher than previously estimated, which means that many pollutants, including CFC substitutes, are removed from the atmosphere more rapidly than had been thought. (See Science papers in Prof. Pubs./Gen. Interest/Ozone Depletion, this issue--Aug. 1995, and Chem. Eng. News, pp. 7-8. July 17, 1995.)

Item #d95aug96

CFC breakdown products: A new study shows that compounds formed when HFCs and HCFCs break down in the atmosphere could reach biologically harmful levels, by concentrating in still waters and seasonal wetlands. (See articles in Prof. Pubs./Gen. Interest/Ozone Depletion, this issue--Aug. 1995, and Chem. Eng. News, p. 4, July 31, 1995.)

Item #d95aug97

Tropical cooling: Evidence from ice cores obtained in Peru is consistent with several recent studies supporting the idea that the tropics did cool during the last ice age, contrary to conclusions based on the CLIMAP data of the 1970s, implying that the tropics could be sensitive to future climate change. (See papers by Stute and Thompson, and commentary by Broecker, in Prof. Pubs./Gen. Interest/Tropical Climate Change, this issue--Aug. 1995, and news pieces in Science, p. 32, July 7, 1995; Science News, p. 70, July 29, 1995; and The New York Times, p. C4, Aug. 15, 1995.)

Item #d95aug98

Ocean fertilization: In contrast to the results of a 1993 experiment, the addition of trace amounts of iron to a patch of the Pacific Ocean last June stimulated phytoplankton growth substantially. The experiment's success strongly supports the theory that iron controls the rate at which plants absorb CO2 in certain ocean areas, the basis of a controversial proposal to "fertilize" the ocean on a large scale to reduce atmospheric CO2. However, the scientists involved in the experiment warn against using this technique to mitigate global warming, in part because of unknown consequences for the ocean's food web, including possible release of methane. (See Science News, p. 53, July 22, 1995; New Scientist, p. 5, July 1, 1995. A lengthy background article, written by Y. Baskin before the June experiment, appears in BioScience, pp. 314-316, May 1995.)

Item #d95aug99

El Niņo—ozone hole link? Meteorologists at the July IUGG meeting proposed an intriguing link between a warming of the tropical sea surface 15 years ago, and the appearance of the Antarctic ozone hole. (See Science, pp. 477-478, July 28, 1995.)

Item #d95aug100

UV increase measured: Data from the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS), which earlier documented the decreasing trend of stratospheric ozone, has confirmed a corresponding upward trend in ultraviolet radiation. Surface radiation in the DNA-damaging region of the spectrum is increasing by as much as 12% per decade at high latitudes. (See ibid.)

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