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Titangeek
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10 Dec 2010, 3:56 pm

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A group of top NASA boffins says that current climate models predicting global warming are far too gloomy, and have failed to properly account for an important cooling factor which will come into play as CO2 levels rise.

According to Lahouari Bounoua of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and other scientists from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), existing models fail to accurately include the effects of rising CO2 levels on green plants. As green plants breathe in CO2 in the process of photosynthesis – they also release oxygen, the only reason that there is any in the air for us to breathe – more carbon dioxide has important effects on them.

In particular, green plants can be expected to grow as they find it easier to harvest carbon from the air around them using energy from the sun: thus introducing a negative feedback into the warming/carbon process. Most current climate models don't account for this at all, according to Bounoua. Some do, but they fail to accurately simulate the effects – they don't allow for the fact that plants in a high-CO2 atmosphere will "down-regulate" and so use water more efficiently.

Bounoua and her colleagues write:

Increase in precipitation contributes primarily to increase evapotranspiration rather than surface runoff, consistent with observations, and results in an additional cooling effect not fully accounted for in previous simulations with elevated CO2.

The NASA and NOAA boffins used their more accurate science to model a world where CO2 levels have doubled to 780 parts per million (ppm) compared to today's 390-odd. They say that world would actually warm up by just 1.64°C overall, and the vegetation-cooling effect would be stronger over land to boot – thus temperatures on land would would be a further 0.3°C cooler compared to the present sims.

International diplomatic efforts under UN auspices are currently devoted to keeping global warming limited to 2°C or less, which under current climate models calls for holding CO2 to 450 ppm – or less in many analyses – a target widely regarded as unachievable. Doubled carbon levels are normally viewed in the current state of enviro play as a scenario that would lead to catastrophe; that is, to warming well beyond 2°C.

It now appears, however, that the previous/current state of climate science may simply have been wrong and that there's really no need to get in an immediate flap. If Bounoua and her colleagues are right, and CO2 levels keep on rising the way they have been lately (about 2 ppm each year), we can go a couple of centuries without any dangerous warming. There are lots of other factors in play, of course, but nonetheless the new analysis is very reassuring.

"As we learn more about how these systems react, we can learn more about how the climate will change," says Bounoua's colleague Forrest Hall, in a NASA statement accompanying the team's scholarly paper. "Each year we get better and better. It's important to get these things right."


Click here, Link


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Moog
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10 Dec 2010, 8:48 pm

I hope that nice things happen and not bad things.


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ruveyn
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10 Dec 2010, 10:46 pm

The real problem is that we do not yet have Climate Science. What we have are Climate Models.

If the physics of gases has stopped with Boyle's Law one could hardly say we had a science of gases, pressures, temperatures etc. With simple formula's like Boyle's law we would still be short of having a proper science of thermodynamics. Similarly we are short of having real Climate Science. One reason is that we do not yet know all the natural drivers of climate change (as opposed to human causes).

There is a link between cosmic rays and cloud formation in our atmosphere. Clouds are the main controlling factor of how warm our atmosphere becomes. All the Chicken Little AGW Models tend to down play the effect of cosmic radiation.

What really worries me is that some attempt will be made to changes the amount of sunlight received on the earths surface and there will be Unintended Consequences to such fiddling precisely because Climate Science is so primitive. As a result attempts to make things better may backfire completely.

ruveyn



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10 Dec 2010, 11:14 pm

Ruveyn, the standards you set up for "climate science" make it impossible by definition. Those same standards also deny the possibility of biology as a science.


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Tollorin
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11 Dec 2010, 12:11 am

Do their optimism account that a specie of stupid primates is currently destroying the jungles. :roll:
A dead tree is not very good to absorb CO2.



nthach
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11 Dec 2010, 12:26 am

Tollorin wrote:
Do their optimism account that a specie of stupid primates is currently destroying the jungles. :roll:
A dead tree is not very good to absorb CO2.

Look at Brazil - developers there are plowing down parts of the Amazon for MALLS. :roll:

We need more trees and less tract homes and shopping malls if you ask me.



number5
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11 Dec 2010, 2:09 pm

Moog wrote:
I hope that nice things happen and not bad things.


:) Me too.

It's very difficult (if not impossible) to get a handle on every possible feedback mechanism in the atmosphere. But everyday we get a bit closer. I think it's important not to focus so much on whether the net result will be a specific level of warming (or possibly cooling), but rather that we need to reduce our screwing around with the planet and its atmosphere. I think ruveyn brings up a good point about efforts backfiring, although I'm not very worried. Outside of dumping tons of CO2 and pollution in general into the atmosphere, we have little effect on insolation. Cloud seeding isn't very effective either.

Instead, we should absolutely be focusing on green energy and processes. Cancer and other diseases caused by pollution are a much greater threat than potential rises in sea level anyway. I don't even want to think of how many lives have been lost over oil.



Titangeek
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11 Dec 2010, 2:22 pm

Just a thought but if the world gets warmer wouldn't that mean more water evaporates into the atmosphere blocking more sunlight causing the world to get cooler? Or am i completely wrong.


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number5
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11 Dec 2010, 2:54 pm

Titangeek wrote:
Just a thought but if the world gets warmer wouldn't that mean more water evaporates into the atmosphere blocking more sunlight causing the world to get cooler? Or am i completely wrong.


More water evaporates up into the atmosphere and forms more clouds. More clouds lead to more rain and the cycle continues. Now the added cloud cover does reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the surface during daytime, but at nighttime these clouds trap in the radiation that is trying to escape from the earth's surface, like a blanket. H2O is a greenhouse gas.



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11 Dec 2010, 3:50 pm

the planet has had warm periods before, nature will adapt. The main question is; will we?

We're already running headlong into a catch-22 regarding oil with some countries being nearly totally dependant on it (Denmark is a good example as there is no infrastructure here for gas- and hydrogen powered cars, we don't even have E85 fuel yet as it is not profitable to buy green cars due to high taxes (180%+) for importing cars). I predict that humanity will face great problems then, especially 3rd world countries as there will be few alternate power sources by then. The US would also suffer a great impact unless enough changes are made... the US might even cease to exist as a nation if we don't do something now.

The fall of the US aside, changes have also been noted in the oceanic currents, especially in the Gulf Stream, which has become considerably weaker througout the years, which may have us look at a small ice age within a few centuries.

but first and foremost, we need to find out whether human technology or nature is behind the current warming period, whether it's our fault or nature's normal cycle. If it is indeed a part of nature's normal cycle, then nothing should be done, there is no reason to do so as we can do nothing to prevent it. Even if it is our fault, the damage has been done, there is nothing more that we can do except for taking over control of the climate... a very dangerous task.



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12 Dec 2010, 6:19 pm

Nature as a whole will adapt, but many extant species will not. Evolution takes vast periods of time, longer as the generation time increases, and this change is happening over decades; the larger species that don't even reach sexual maturity until they're decades old will not be able to adapt.

I hope that these critics are correct, but I suspect that they are not; failing to include plant absorbtion of CO2 in a climate model of CO2 seems like stupidity, not like an oversight that the climate modelers might have missed by accident.



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13 Dec 2010, 2:31 am

sudo aptitude purge excess-co2 global-climate-change

Now was that so hard? You are welcome.


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13 Dec 2010, 11:10 am

Fuzzy wrote:
sudo aptitude purge excess-co2 global-climate-change

Now was that so hard? You are welcome.

Unfortunately, some idiot installed those packages with apt-get instead of aptitude and their dependencies were not properly marked for auto-removal.

You see what you've done now, apt-get noobs?! You've doomed us all! DOOOOMED!!

Also, apt-get moo is one of the leading contributors to global climate change. We need to switch to a sustainable package manager which does not pollute our system with super cow powers.


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