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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

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



Item #d98jun1

"Kyoto Protocol: The Unfinished Agenda," S.H. Schneider (Dept. Biol. Sci., Stanford Univ., Stanford CA 94304; e-mail:, Clim. Change, 39(1), 1-21, May 1998.

The author, one of the relatively few scientists who participated at the December 1997 Kyoto meeting, offers his personal views of the political and social dynamics of the gathering, and discusses mechanisms needed to address global warming in the long term.

Item #d98jun2

"A Common-Sense Climate Index: Is Climate Changing Noticeably? J. Hansen (NASA Goddard Inst. Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York NY 10025), M. Sato et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 95, 4116-4120, Apr. 1998.

Proposes an index of climate change based on practical climate indicators such as heating degree days and the frequency of intense precipitation. In most regions the index is positive, consistent with predictions of global warming, but in most areas climate trends are too small to stand out above the year-to-year variability. Predicts that the global area with obvious climate change will increase notably in the next few years. Shows that the growth rate of greenhouse gas climate forcing has declined in recent years, which presents an opportunity to keep climate change in the 21st century less than "business as usual" scenarios.

Item #d98jun3

"Implications of Televised News Coverage of Global Warming for Organizational Decisions," M.E. Nitz (Inst. Politische Wissenschaft, Univ. Hamburg, Allende Platz 1, 20146 Hamburg, Ger.), World Resource Review, 10(2), 207-222, June 1998.

Convincing people and organizations of the IPCC conclusions that global warming does exist and solutions are needed has proved difficult. Examines what organizations are active in the global warming debate, where the public gets most information about the issue, and theories that explain the effect of organizations' communications on public opinion.

Item #d98jun4

"Global Warming and the Stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet," M. Oppenheimer (Environ. Defense Fund, 275 Park Ave. S, New York NY 10010), Nature, 393(6683), 325-332, May 28, 1998.

If the ice sheet were to collapse completely, the global mean sea level would rise 4-6 meters. The author reviews this potential instability and how human-induced climate change could play a major role. Current policy decisions relating to CO2 emissions could irreversibly affect the sheet in the distant future. For instance, if global emissions follow any of the IPCC IS92 scenarios over the 21st century, substantial thinning of the ice sheet could result in the 22nd century, regardless of any subsequent policy responses.

Item #d98jun5

"Breakup and Conditions for Stability of the Northern Larsen Ice Shelf, Antarctica," C.S.M. Doake (British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Rd., Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK), H.F.J. Corr et al., Nature, 391(6669), 778-780, Feb. 19, 1998.

Breakup of ice shelves is a widely regarded indicator of climate change. Develops a numerical model of the stresses and strains in ice shelves, calibrating it with data from the northern most section of the Larsen Ice Shelf (Larsen A), which collapsed rapidly in January 1995. The larger northern section, Larsen B, is approaching a similar situation, and if the ice front retreats by a few more kilometers, it too is likely to enter an irreversible, rapid disintegration.

Item #d98jun6

"Deep-Sea Coral Evidence for Rapid Change in Ventilation of the Deep North Atlantic 15,400 Years Ago," J.F. Adkins (Geochem. 62, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observ., Rte. 9W, Palisades NY 10964), Science, 280(5364), 725-728, May 1, 1998.

Isotopic analysis of coral samples shows that the deep ocean changed on decadal-centennial time scales during more rapid changes in the surface ocean and the atmosphere.

Item #d98jun7

"CO2-Induced Global Warming: A Skeptic's View of Potential Climate Change," S.B. Idso (U.S. Water Conserv. Lab., 4331 E. Broadway, Phoenix AZ 85040; e-mail:, Clim. Res., 10(1), 69-82, Apr. 9, 1998.

The author reviews his two decades of analyses of natural phenomena that reveal how Earth's near-surface air temperature responds to surface variations, which suggest that little net temperature change will result from the current buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere. He is therefore skeptical of predictions of significant warming by climate models, and concludes that much more work on a wide variety of research fronts will be required to properly resolve the issue.

Item #d98jun8

Two related items in Nature, 392(6678), Apr. 23, 1998:

"The Past as Guide to the Future," G. Hegerl (Joint Inst. for Study of Atmos. & Ocean, Univ. Washington, Seattle WA 98195; e-mail:, 758-759. Comments on the following paper, which is an important step towards reconstructing space-time records of historical temperature patterns and estimating the future impact of rising greenhouse gases.

"Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing over the Past Six Centuries," M.E. Mann (Dept. Geosci., Univ. Massachusetts, Amherst MA 01003), R.S. Bradley, M.K. Hughes, 779-787. Pools various high-resolution proxy records of climate with instrumental records and compares results with records representing changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, solar irradiance, and volcanic aerosols. Each of the factors has contributed to the climate variability of the past 400 years, with greenhouse gases emerging as the dominant force during the twentieth century. Northern Hemisphere mean annual temperatures for three of the past eight years are warmer than any other year since at least ad 1400.

Item #d98jun9

"The Terrestrial Carbon Cycle: Implications for the Kyoto Protocol," IGBP Terrestrial Carbon Working Group (Roy. Swed. Acad. Sci., Box 50005, S-10405, Stockholm, Swed.; Attn.: W. Steffen; e-mail:, Science, 280(5368), 1393-1394, May 29, 1998.

Annex 1 countries of the Kyoto Protocol can meet their commitments in part by increasing net carbon sequestration in terrestrial carbon sinks. This article discusses a number of problems relating to the carbon budget that will seriously limit the Protocol's effectiveness if not corrected. Terrestrial carbon sinks can offset fossil fuel emissions only temporarily (decades to a century), and are best viewed as buying valuable time to address the most significant anthropogenic perturbation of the carbon cycle—fossil fuel emissions.

Item #d98jun10

Three related items in Nature, 393(6682), May 21, 1998:

"The Carbon Equation," D.S. Schimel (NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307; e-mail:, 208-209. Compares and contrasts the following two studies, which taken together, bring a renewed sense of urgency to research on the future behavior of the Earth system, especially the coupling of anthropogenic greenhouse gases to the climate and carbon systems.

"Dynamic Responses of Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Cycling to Global Climate Change," M. Cao (Dept. Environ. Sci., Univ. Virginia, Charlottesville VA 22903), F.I. Woodward, 249-252. Uses a terrestrial biogeochemical model, forced by simulations of transient climate change with a GCM, to quantify the dynamic variations in ecosystem carbon fluxes caused by fluctuations in CO2 and climate from 1861 to 2070. Predicts that the global net ecosystem production will increase significantly, but this response will decline as the CO2 fertilization effect becomes saturated and is diminished by climatic factors.

"Simulated Response of the Ocean Carbon Cycle to Anthropogenic Climate Warming," J.L. Sarmiento (Program in Atmos. & Ocean Sci., Princeton Univ., POB CN710, Princeton NJ 08544; e-mail:, T.M.C. Hughes et al., 245-249. Experiments with a coupled atmosphere-ocean model of global warming for the period 1765-2065 show that the response of the biological community is difficult to predict with present understanding. However, physical and biological changes may already be occurring, and they could substantially affect the ocean carbon sink over the next few decades.

Item #d98jun11

"The Human Side of Global Change: The 1997 Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Community," J. Jäger (IIASA, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria), Environment, 40(1), 25-26, Jan-Feb. 1998.

Summarizes a June 1997 meeting at IIASA in Austria, which showed the broadening range of research on the topic in a large number of countries.

Item #d98jun12

Special issue: "Transport Futures: Long-Term Perspectives and Implications," S. Peake, Ed., Energy Policy, 25(14-15), Dec. 1997.

Contains an editor's introduction plus 14 papers spanning modeling, technology and the behavioral dimensions of transport, energy and climate change.

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