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Cloudy forecast for global warming

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Sore Throat

Joined: 01 Sep 2000
Posts: 1923
Location: x
Cloudy forecast for global warming PostSat Aug 11, 2007 5:12 pm  Reply with quote  

Interesting "cirrus cloud" image in this article. Also consider the source...John Christy...worth a look at:

(Photo of cirrus clouds over Texas by Richard Santos, Laredo Morning Times, AP)

Cloudy forecast for global warming

How clouds react to a warming world remains one of the great unknowns in climate change research. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report earlier this year noted that cloud behavior is the biggest source of physical uncertainty in climate projection.

Another salvo in this debate was fired this week by John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Their study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, found that instead of creating more clouds, their research found a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds (above). Christy and Spencer have both been outspoken in their skepticism about human influence on global climate change.

"All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high- altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases," Spencer says in a press release. "That amplification is a positive feedback. What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback. As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease. That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space."

In addition to Spencer and Christy, the paper was also authored by Alabama-Huntsville's W. Danny Braswell and Justin Hnilo of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.

"While low clouds have a predominantly cooling effect due to their shading of sunlight, most cirrus clouds have a net warming effect on the Earth," Spencer says. With high-altitude ice clouds their infrared heat trapping exceeds their solar shading effect.

"To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent," Spencer adds. "The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming."

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visual ray wizard

Joined: 09 Jul 2005
Posts: 461
Location: United States
The increase in contrails world wide is accelerating global PostFri Aug 17, 2007 3:35 am  Reply with quote  

warming. So say these folks who study how high clouds that persist thru the night actually refect uv energy back towards the earth reducing night time cooling termperatures by several degrees.

Airplane Contrails Boost Global Warming, Study Suggests
Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News

June 14, 2006
Moving flight times from night to day could reduce air travel's contributions to global warming, a new study suggests.

Scheduling more daytime flights may lessen the impact of contrails—the visible streaks of condensation that many planes leave in their wake.

The role of contrails in climate change is still under study, but some scientists believe that they contribute to the greenhouse effect by trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere.

Nicola Stuber, first author of the study, to be published in tomorrow's edition of the journal Nature, suggests that contrails' overall impact on climate change is similar in scope to that of aircrafts' carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over a hundred-year period.

Aircraft are believed to be responsible for 2 to 3 percent of human CO2 emissions. Like other high, thin clouds, contrails reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet.

However, they also trap energy in Earth's atmosphere and boost the warming effect, the study says.

(See National Geographic magazine's "Global Warning: Signs From Earth.")

Stuber and other scientists believe that the effect of the contrails is significant.

"On average the greenhouse warming effect dominates [the effects of contrails]," said Stuber, a meteorologist at England's University of Reading.

Global Warming and Contrails

This warming effect is far greater for contrails left by night flights, Stuber added.

"The solar cooling effect [wherein contrails reflect the sun's rays back into space] only happens during the day, when the sun is up," she explained.

Being one with nature never felt so good!
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