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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 #d90may1

"Expecting the Unexpected: Some Ancient Roots to Current Perceptions of Nature," I.M.B. Wiman (Dept. Classics, Lund Univ., Sölvegatan 2, S-223 62 Lund, Sweden), Ambio, XIX(2), 62-69, Apr. 1990.

Discusses the role of some ancient Greek and Roman conceptions of nature and illustrates their restrictive influence on current approaches to environmental management. The ozone hole is an example of how an overly narrow perception of nature's behavioral patterns caused it to go undetected by computerized technical information routines and physicochemical models. Discusses the potential for creating a more fruitful dialogue with nature through constructive evaluation of alternative technological strategies and consideration of mankind's intimate affinity with nature.

Item #d90may2

"The Montreal Protocol: A Dynamic Agreement for Protecting the Ozone Layer," J. Koehler (U.S. EPA, 401 M St. SW, Washington DC 20460), S.A. Hajost, ibid., 82-86.

Uses the Protocol's negotiating history to illustrate how and why agreement on a particular issue was reached. Provides a detailed analysis of the Protocol's most innovative provisions, discusses its international implementation, and concludes with modification proposals possible in June 1990.

Item #d90may3

"Amazon Deforestation and Climate Change," J. Shukla (Dept. Meteor., Univ. Maryland, College Park MD 20742), C. Nobre, P. Sellers, Science, 247, 1322-1325, Mar. 16, 1990.

Assesses the effects of Amazon deforestation on the regional and global climate in a simulation that uses a coupled numerical model of the global atmosphere and biosphere. When the tropical forests in the model were replaced by degraded grass (pasture), there was an increase in surface temperature and a decrease in evapotranspiration and precipitation. The dry season lengthened, making reforestation particularly difficult, which suggests that complete and rapid destruction of the Amazon tropical forest could be irreversible.

Item #d90may4

"Biological Feedbacks in Global Desertification," W.H. Schlesinger (Dept. Bot., Duke Univ., Durham NC 27706), J.F. Reynolds et al., ibid., 1043-1045, Mar. 2, 1990.

Focuses on changes that can be expected at the transition between semiarid and arid lands, and on the potential for an increasing area of arid land to alter biogeochemical processes at the global level. Studies of ecosystem processes in southern New Mexico suggest that long-term grazing of semiarid grasslands leads to spatial inhomogeneity of soil resources. Subsequent positive feedback mechanisms lead to increased desertification and invasion of desert shrubs into formerly productive lands. Future desertification would be exacerbated by global climatic warming and would alter global biogeochemical cycles.

Item #d90may5

"Coherence Established Between Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Global Temperature," C. Kuo (Math. Sci. Res. Ctr., AT&T Bell Labs, Murray Hill NJ 07974), C. Lindberg, D.J. Thomson, Nature, 343(6260), 709-714, Feb. 22, 1990.

Applies multiple-window time-series methods to the Hansen-Lebedeff average global surface temperature series and Keeling CO2 concentration measurements to estimate their trends and power spectra as well as the coherence between the two series. Results confirm that average global temperature is increasing, and temperature and atmospheric CO2 are correlated over the past thirty years. Changes in CO2 content lag those in temperature by five months.

Item #d90may6

"Abrupt Climate Fluctuations in the Tropics: The Influence of Atlantic Ocean Circulation," F.A. Street-Perrot (Sch. Geog., Oxford Univ., Mansfield Rd., Oxford OX1 3TB, UK), R.A. Perrot, ibid., 343(6259), 607-611, Feb. 15, 1990.

Reviews recent oceanographic and paleoceanographic literature to show that several severe historic and prehistoric droughts were linked to episodes of decreased salinity in the Northern Atlantic. Input of fresh water decreases salinity, leading to reduced North Atlantic deep-water formation and anomalies of sea surface temperature of the kind associated with decreased rainfall in the northern tropics. Ice-sheet disintegration, the most important source of freshwater input to the oceans, should therefore be considered explicitly in models of past and future climate.

Item #d90may7

"Evidence for Two-Step Deglaciation and Its Impact on North Atlantic Deep-Water Circulation," E. Jansen (Dept. Geol., Univ. Bergen, Allégaten 41, N-5007 Bergen, Norway), T. Veum, ibid., 612-616.

Presents oxygen and carbon isotope records from benthic and planktonic foraminifera for the past 35,000 years in the northeastern Atlantic. Results suggest that the last deglaciation took place in two major steps, contrary to theories calling for a strong reduction in North Atlantic deep-water formation to explain the abrupt cooling of the Younger Dryas cold period.

Item #d90may8

"Effects on Carbon Storage of Conversion of Old-Growth Forests to Young Forests," M.E. Harmon (Dept. For. Sci., Oregon State Univ., Corvallis OR 97331), W.K. Ferrell, J.F. Franklin, Science, 247(4943), 699-702, Feb. 9, 1990.

Simulations of carbon storage suggest that conversion of old-growth forests to young fast-growing forests will not decrease atmospheric CO2, as has been suggested recently. During simulated timber harvest, on-site carbon storage is reduced considerably and does not approach old-growth storage capacity for at least 200 years. This results in a net flux of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Item #d90may9

"Managing Atmospheric CO2," J. Edmonds (Pacific Northwest Lab., Washington DC 20024), Clim. Change, 15(3), 339-341, Dec. 1989.

Explains how the following paper by Harvey demonstrates the importance of models of atmospheric processes, and in particular models of the carbon cycle, to forecast possible future climate changes. Calls for a carbon cycle model comparison workshop to reconcile apparent differences between such models, which is necessary before we can confidently forecast the rate and timing of climatic change.

Item #d90may10

"Managing Atmospheric CO2," L.D.D. Harvey (Dept. Geog., Univ. Toronto, 100 St. George St., Toronto, Ont. M5S 1A1, Can.), ibid., 343-381.

Uses a coupled carbon cycle-climate model to compute global atmospheric CO2 and temperature variation that would result from several future CO2 emission scenarios. Two important factors in limiting atmospheric CO2 are: (1) the airborne fraction falls rapidly once emissions begin to decrease, so that total emissions need initially fall to only about half their present value in order to stabilize atmospheric CO2; and (2) changes in rates of deforestation have an immediate and proportional effect on gross emissions from the biosphere, whereas the CO2 sink due to regrowth of forests responds more slowly, so that decreases in the rate of deforestation have a disproportionately large effect on net emissions. Discusses the implications of climatic warming-induced changes in oceanic CO2 absorption for CO2 management policy.

Item #d90may11

"The Greenhouse Effect and Energy Policy in the United States," K. Nowotny, J. Econ. Issues, 23(4), 1075-1084, Dec. 1989.

Because of the greenhouse effect, freely operating markets can no longer be relied upon to allocate fossil fuel resources; competition in the electricity generation market will only aggravate problems. To reduce fossil fuel use, the electricity generating sector must coordinate conservation efforts. The transportation sector could strive to double fuel economy. Reduction of fossil fuel burning to acceptable levels could cost $2-6 trillion.

Item #d90may12

"Crisis in Politics of Climate Change Looms on Horizon," P.J. Michaels (Dept. Environ. Sci., Univ. Virginia, Charlottesville VA 22903), Forum Appl. Res. Public Policy, 4(4), 14-23, Winter 1989.

Examines the scientific uncertainties and inconsistencies that may flaw the popular vision of the greenhouse world and should be factored into policy decisions. These are the interpretation of global and hemispheric temperature histories with respect to greenhouse gas concentrations, artificial warming from urban heat islands, high latitude temperatures, day and night temperature changes, and the holistic nature of the global change problem and negative feedbacks in the pollution system. Some of the unforeseen consequences of recent policy proposals may serve to enhance greenhouse warming.

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