Friday, May 11, 2007

Is Climate Change Worse than Expected?

A group of climatologists report in the most recent issue of Science that climate change may actually be worse than current projections. They compare actual data to that projected by the IPCC models. Here is the abstract of the article (sadly, I do not have access to the full article):

We present recent observed climate trends for carbon dioxide concentration, global mean air temperature, and global sea level, and we compare these trends to previous model projections as summarized in the 2001 assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC scenarios and projections start in the year 1990, which is also the base year of the Kyoto protocol, in which almost all industrialized nations accepted a binding commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The data available for the period since 1990 raise concerns that the climate system, in particular sea level, may be responding more quickly to climate change than our current generation of models indicates.

Brad Plummer of The New Republic does a good job of noting the implications of this report on The Plank:

Not good: In the latest issue of Science, a bunch of climatologists offer evidence that climate models may actually be understating the rate of global warming.

One favored tactic of climate-change "skeptics," of course, is to argue that climate-change models are uncertain. Now, the models are far more accurate than the skeptics imply, but to the extent that there is uncertai

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