February 28, 2007
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Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBER 12, DECEMBER 1996
OF GENERAL INTEREST
"Detecting Greenhouse-Gas-Induced Climate Change with an
Optimal Fingerprint Method," G.C. Hegerl, (Max Planck Inst.
Meteor., Bundestr. 55, D-21046 Hamburg, Ger.), J. Clim., 9(10),
2281-2306, Oct. 1996.
This study attempts to detect anthropogenic climate change in
the observational record of near-surface temperatures by trying
to identify as a "fingerprint" the spatial and temporal
changes in temperature that are expected to characterize
anthropogenic change, should it be present. A coupled
ocean-atmosphere general circulation model is used, both to
estimate the fingerprint and to estimate natural climatic
variability. The estimate of natural variability is then used to
statistically modify (optimize) the fingerprint to reduce the
confounding influence of random fluctuations.
The null hypothesis, that the latest observed 20-year and
30-year trend of near-surface temperature (ending in 1994) is
part of natural climate variability, is rejected with a risk of
less than 2.5%-5%. However, to attribute the observed warming
uniquely to anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing, more
information is needed on the climate's response to other forcing
mechanisms (e.g., changes in solar radiation, or volcanic or
anthropogenic sulfate aerosols) and their interactions.
Furthermore, the estimate of internal (natural) climate
variability is still uncertain. With these caveats, the
conclusion remains that a statistically significant, externally
induced warming has been observed.
related items in Science, 272(5264), May 17, 1996:
"Stratospheric Control of Climate," A. Robock (Dept.
Meteor., Univ. Maryland, College Park MD 20742; e-mail:
email@example.com), 972-973. For many decades, statistical
evidence has suggested a possible link between solar activity and
weather and climate, but there has been no physical mechanism
identified. The following paper identifies a possible mechanism,
using a climate model with a sophisticated representation of
stratospheric processes. Such new tools will lead to further
progress understanding climatic variations.
"The Impact of Solar Variability on Climate," J.D.
Haigh (Space & Atmos. Physics, Imperial College of Science,
Technol. & Med., London SW7 2BZ, UK), 981-984. Used a global
atmospheric model that simulates changes in solar irradiance and
stratospheric ozone to investigate the response of the atmosphere
to the 11-year solar activity cycle. At solar maximum, a warming
of the summer stratosphere was found to strengthen easterly
winds, leading to changes in tropospheric circulation similar to
those observed in nature. Since the simulation of ozone changes
was a key factor, these results imply that changes in
stratospheric ozone brought about by any other means (such as
destruction by CFCs) may also have an impact on tropospheric
"Comments on the Marketing of Science: Users Are a
KeyAn Example of the Value of Scientific Information,"
S.A. Chagnon (Illinois State Water Survey, 2204 Griffith Dr.,
Champaign IL 61820), Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77(11),
2729-2735, Nov. 1996.
Follows up on an article (Pielke & Glanz, Bull. Amer.
Meteor. Soc., pp. 2445-2458, 1995) which concluded that
adequate and continuing evidence in support of major science
programs is usually not presented. Chagnon states that a pivotal
issue involves engaging the users (at state, federal and private
levels) and the scientific participants well in advance, during,
and after a program concludes. Some techniques the Illinois Water
Survey has used include delivery of information and services the
users deem valuable, building networks or partnerships with
science leaders at all levels, and demonstrating, in a form
meaningful to the user, the potential economic, policy or
Uses the diversion of Great Lakes water at Chicago to the
Mississippi River as an excellent post hoc illustration of the
enormous problems created when inadequate data and scientific
misunderstanding prevail. For the first quarter of this century,
a definitive understanding of the relationship between
meteorological and hydrological conditions was lacking. Defenders
and opponents of the project blamed falling lake levels on either
the weather or on the diversion itself. On four occasions this
project was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Chagnon
concludes that decision makers and scientists should realize that
most of the value of science in this context depends on trust
earned through effectively integrating user communities in the
"Rationalizing Environmental ResponsibilitiesA
Comparison of Lay Publics in the UK and the Netherlands,"
C.M. Harrison (Dept. Geog., Univ. College, 26 Bedford Way, London
WC1H 0AP, UK), J. Burgess, P. Filius, Global Environ. Change, 6(3),
215-234, July 1996.
This cross-cultural study in both countries draws on household
surveys and single-gender discussion groups. The Dutch sample
shows a higher level of pro-environmental behavior on all
indicators. The key constraints inhibiting fuller acceptance of
personal responsibility in both countries are: (1) the extent to
which individuals are able to judge the validity of environmental
rhetoric and expert claims; (2) the increasingly confused nature
of environmental "truths," which encourages cynicism
and doubt; and (3) the extent of a trustful relationship between
citizens and government, in which both parties acknowledge their
rights and responsibilities.
"TNCs [TransNational Corporations] and Global Environmental
ChangeA Review of the UN Benchmark Corporate Environmental
Survey," P. Robbins (Dept. Sociol., London Sch. of Econ.
& Political Sci., Houghton St., London WC2A 2AE, UK), ibid.,
Analyzes a U.N. survey of environment management practices of
TNCs, to better understand the relationship between the global
capitalist system and global environmental change. The analysis,
based on previously proposed concepts on the sociology of the
global system, suggests how different types of TNCs respond to
global environmental change issues. Poses questions for further
sociological analysis of TNCs in global environmental change.
"Security Risks of Global Environmental Changes," R.
Swart (Natl. Inst. Public Health & Environ. Protect.-RIVM,
POB 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, Neth. (tel: 31 30 749111; fax: 31 30
742971), ibid., 187-192.
Recent analysis suggests that the environment is very
important, in addition to political, social and economic factors,
in bringing about civil strife. This article considers possible
future developments of the environment as related to causes of
social instability and conflict, by analyzing the conventional
development scenario of the Stockholm Environmental Institute,
which by 2050 leads to a doubling of world population and a
quadrupling of GDP. Depending upon future events, this scenario
can lead to increased or decreased environmental security risks.
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