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 10, NUMBER 2, FEBRUARY 1997
OF GENERAL INTEREST
"Assessing the Effectiveness of International Environmental
Institutions," M. Levy (Ctr. for Intl. Studies, Woodrow Wilson School,
Princeton Univ., Princeton NJ 08544), Global Environ. Change, 6(4),
395-397, Sep. 1996.
A brief evaluation of the state of research on this topic. Scholars
concerned with social power warn that the three main approaches taken so
far-compliance, behavioral change, and policy suitability-threaten to mask
patterns of domination by governments or social groups. One must ask not only
how effective is a regime at solving the problem it was created for, but also
whose agenda is being served, whose agenda is being excluded, and what
distributional impact does the regime have on social power. Integrating these
concerns into research on effectiveness is an important challenge for the
"The Development of the 'Greenhouse' Theory of Global Climate Change
from Victorian Times," F.B. Mudge (Univ. E. Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK),
Weather, 52(1), 13-17, Jan. 1997.
Examines the development of the Victorian notion of the greenhouse effect, a
widely debated topic at that time. At the turn of the century, the theory of
global climate change by changes in the level of atmospheric CO2 was widely
accepted. Then, around 1900, Angström appeared to demolish the theory,
arguing that changes in the level of CO2 can have only limited effect because of
the overlap of the water and CO2 spectral bands. Interest waned until Callendar
published new support of the theory in 1938; he is often regarded as the
originator of the modern theory connecting atmospheric CO2 and global climate
"Predictability of North Atlantic Multidecadal Climate Variability,"
S.M. Griffies (GFDL, Rt. 1, Forrestal Campus, Princeton NJ 08542; e-mail:
email@example.com), K. Bryan, Science, 275(5297), 181-184, Jan. 10,
Although atmospheric weather systems become unpredictable beyond a few
weeks, climate variations can be predictable over much longer periods because of
the coupling of the ocean and the atmosphere. This study uses a coupled
ocean-atmosphere model to show that the North Atlantic may have climatic
predictability on the order of a decade or longer. Variations in the dominant
multidecadal sea surface temperature patterns in the North Atlantic, which have
been associated with changes in climate over Eurasia, might be predicted if an
adequate and sustainable system for monitoring the Atlantic Ocean exists.
"Human Effect on Global Climate?" Nature, 384(6609),
522-524, Dec. 12, 1996
In the July 4, 1996, issue of Nature, Benjamin Santer et al.
presented evidence that human activity (through greenhouse gases, ozone
depletion, and atmospheric particles) is evident in the pattern of air
temperature changes observed in this century. (See Global Climate Change
Digest, PROF. PUBS./GEN. INTEREST & COMMENTARY, Aug. 1996.) Here, Santer
et al. defend their conclusions against separate arguments to the contrary
presented by Patrick Michaels and Paul Knappenberger of the U.S., and by Gerd
Weber of Germany. Michaels and Knappenberger show evidence that the conclusions
of Santer et al. are based on a correlation between modeled and observed
temperatures that does not hold up if a longer data record (1987-1995) is used.
Santer et al. argue that this is not the case. (See related RESEARCH NEWS item,
this Global Climate Change Digest issue--Feb. 1997.)
"Climate Change from Increased CO2 and Direct and Indirect Effects
of Sulfate Aerosols," G.A. Meehl (Clim. & Global Dynamics Div., NCAR,
POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), W.M. Washington et
al., Geophys. Res. Lett., 23(25), 3755-3758, Dec. 15, 1996. Find
figures for this paper at: http://www.ucar.edu/.
Gives preliminary results from the first climate sensitivity experiments
that included the indirect forcing effect of sulfate aerosols (through clouds),
in addition to the direct aerosol effect on albedo and the effect of transient
greenhouse gas forcing. Simulations corresponding to roughly 35 years into the
future indicate tropospheric warming almost everywhere, as the CO2 forcing
overwhelms the negative radiative forcing from the sulfate aerosols. There is
also a general indication of weakening of the south Asian monsoon.
"Oceanic Carbon Dioxide Uptake in a Model of Century-Scale Global
Warming," J.L. Sarmiento (Program in Atmos. & Oceanic Sci., Princeton
Univ., Princeton NJ 08544), Science, 274(5291), 1346-1350, Nov.
In a model of ocean-atmosphere interaction that excluded biological
processes, global warming substantially reduced the oceanic uptake of
atmospheric CO2, primarily through the weakening or collapse of the ocean
thermohaline circulation. Such a large reduction in uptake would have a major
impact on the future growth rate of atmospheric CO2. Simulations incorporating
biological effects show that they could largely offset this reduction, but the
magnitude of the offset is difficult to quantify with present knowledge.
"Satellite versus Surface Estimates of Air Temperature Since 1979,"
J.W. Hurrell (NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307), K.E. Trenberth, J. Clim.,
9(9), 2222-2232, Sep. 1996.
Compares near-global monthly mean surface temperature anomalies to those
measured by the global Microwave Sounder Unit (MSU). Differences in global
annual mean trends are revealed that are largely attributable to important
physical differences in the quantities measured. The result is that the regions
contributing to hemispheric or global mean anomalies differ substantially
between the two datasets. This helps to account for a warming of 0.18° C per
decade in the surface record relative to the MSU record, which has led to the
perception that the two results are inconsistent. Instead, both give a different
perspective on the same events.
"Population Policy: Consensus and Challenges," L.S. Ashford
(Population Reference Bureau Inc., Washington, D.C.; e-mail: email@example.com),
J.A. Noble, Consequences, 2(2), 24-35, 1996. This article is
also available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.gcrio.org/CONSEQUENCES/introCON.html.
The United Nations' best estimate of world population shows it beginning to
stabilize around the end of the next century, at perhaps 11 or 12 billion
people, compared to 5.77 billion today. No matter how much it rises, most of the
population increase will occur in Africa, South Asia, South America and other
parts of the developing world, where the natural environment, often already
stressed, will be particularly taxed. The 1995 international population
conference in Cairo saw a broadening of policy proposals, with a shift in
emphasis toward the deeper social and health issues involved in family planning,
and set a goal of $17 billion in annual spending by the turn of the century.
Setting population goals and policies in the context of human rights and health
and economic well-being attacks the deeper roots of the problem, but it also
demands more of national governments and donor organizations.
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