- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2005

NASA scientists working with diving robots to measure ocean temperatures disclosed yesterday that they have found evidence they call a “smoking gun” in validating dire global warming predictions.

The study, published in yesterday’s issue of the journal Science, was led by James Hansen, a NASA climate scientist, who for decades has warned about the effects of global warming — a temperature rise resulting from trapped industry-based greenhouse gases.

The 15-member research team, comprising specialists from NASA, Columbia University and the Department of Energy, determined that for every square meter of surface area, the earth and its oceans are absorbing nearly a watt more of the sun’s energy than is being radiated back to space as heat.

The scientists said this 0.85-watt disparity is a historically large imbalance and that such absorbed energy will steadily warm the atmosphere.

“This energy imbalance is the smoking gun that we have been looking for. … There can no longer be genuine doubt that human-made gases are the dominant cause of observed warming,” said Mr. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a unit of Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

The researchers said their study confirms computer models forecasting that there will be a 1-degree Fahrenheit rise in global temperatures this century, even if emissions of carbon dioxide and other fossil fuels are immediately capped.

If heat-trapping emissions continue to grow, the scientists said, things could spin “out of our control” as ocean levels rise from melting Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of scientists, predicted in a 2000 report that temperatures could climb by 10 degrees Fahrenheit this century if emissions are not controlled.

“There’s no longer a question of whether [global warming] will occur,” Anthony Janetos, a specialist on climate change, said yesterday.

Mr. Janetos, who is vice president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, added that the questions still to be answered are “what things will happen” as a result of global climate change and how soon will they happen.

“There have been other studies showing that oceans accumulate heat,” he said of the report. “The fact is there is very, very strong evidence that this is an amplification of the greenhouse effect, as a result of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere.”

However, S. Fred Singer, director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project, called the report “bunk.”

“The idea that energy can be stored and linger in the oceans and can later raise temperatures makes no physical sense,” Mr. Singer said. “It violates the law of thermal dynamics and is not tenable. I think it is erroneous and should be corrected.”


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