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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d92feb1

"Climate Forcing by Anthropogenic Aerosols," R.J. Charlson (Dept. Atmos. Sci., Univ. Washington, AK-40, Seattle WA 98195), S.E. Schwartz et al., Science, 255(5043), 423-430, Jan. 14, 1992.

Anthropogenic sulfate aerosol contributes to planetary cooling by direct scattering of shortwave solar radiation and by increasing the albedo of clouds. These effects are estimated to currently be comparable in magnitude to greenhouse gas forcing, although of the opposite sign. However, differences in geographical and seasonal dependence of the influence preclude any simple compensation. To account for this effect when evaluating anthropogenic influences on past, current and future climate, and in formulating policy, requires research on the controlling physical and chemical processes.

Item #d92feb2

"How Industrial Countries Are Responding to Global Climate Change," K. Schmidt (Environ. & Energy Study Inst., 122 C St. NW, Washington DC 20001), Intl. Environ. Affairs, 3(4), 292-315, Fall 1991.

Summarizes individual actions by the 24 members of the OECD and by the European Community as of May 1991, focusing on national commitments and policy measures related to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide. Also mentions commitments relating to other greenhouse gases and carbon sinks, and targets for CFC phase-out earlier than the year 2000.

Item #d92feb3

Special section: "Global Climate Change: Research, Prevention, and Adaptation," Issues Sci. Technol., Winter 1991-92. Published by Nat. Acad. Sci.; for single copy sales contact the journal at POB 661, Holmes PA 19043, or call 202-334-3305.

"Keeping Climate Research Relevant," E.S. Rubin (Environ. Inst., Carnegie Mellon Univ.), L.B. Lave, M.G. Morgan, 47-55. Government attempts to deal with global warming appear to be headed down the same ill-fated path as the recent acid rain research program: producing good science, but not yielding policy-relevant information in a timely manner. The program needs to articulate its objectives and establish a management plan for achieving them. It should be reviewed and if necessary revised periodically through an integrated assessment process, carried out independently by at least two teams of researchers: one drawn from nongovernmental organizations, the other from within government. This process has already been initiated for certain parts of the program by some government agencies, but a comprehensive treatment of the entire program is necessary.

"Science and Climate Policy: A History Lesson," C.N. Herrick (Nat. Clim. Prog. Off., NOAA), 56-57. Draws a parallel between the U.S. government policy toward settling of the arid western U.S. in the late 19th century, and current attempts to deal with global climate change. Each situation demonstrates that social factors can dominate scientific input.

"The Road to Reduced Carbon Emissions," R. Bierbaum (Off. Technol. Assessment), R.M. Friedman, 58-65. Summarizes the results of an assessment by the Office of Technology Assessment of the potential for reducing U.S. CO2 emissions under different scenarios. (See Reports/United States, GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DIGEST, Mar. 1991.) To reduce emissions in the year 2015 to 35% below 1987 levels, a mix of regulatory and market-based federal policies will be needed.

"Preserving Biodiversity in a Changing Climate," R.L. Peters (W. Alton Jones Foundation, Charlottesville, Va.), J.P. Myers, 66-72. Although climate change would add to the present loss of species diversity, scientific reports and discussions have downplayed the threat, and lack the sense of urgency necessary to spur action, which is needed now. Elements of the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology could play key roles, and agencies such as the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management must incorporate this concern in their management plans. Even conservation and other watchdog groups have been remarkably silent on this problem.

Item #d92feb4

"Impact of Aircraft and Surface Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides on Tropospheric Warming," C. Johnson (AEA Environ. & Energy, Harwell Lab., Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0RA, UK), J. Henshaw, G. McInnes, Nature, 355(6355), 69-71, Jan. 2, 1992.

Both aircraft and surface emissions of nitrogen oxides lead to the formation of tropospheric ozone, a greenhouse gas. However, model calculations show that the radiative forcing of surface temperature is about 30 times more sensitive to the former. The impact on global warming of increases in tropospheric ozone caused by increased surface emissions of nitrogen oxides has previously been overestimated by a factor of five, because of an error in calculating the ozone budget.

Item #d92feb5

"Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Vehicles," J.M. Dasch (Gen. Motors Res. Lab., 305000 Mound Rd., Box 9055, Warren MI 48090), J. Air Waste Mgmt. Assoc., 42(1), 63-67, Jan. 1992.

The contribution of vehicular emissions of N2O to global warming is in doubt because of the recent discovery that catalytic converters increase emissions and because past measurements are questionable due to artifact N2O formation. This paper combines new measurements with literature values to conclude that vehicular emissions of N2O from the U.S. contribute only 0.1% of the calculated temperature increase from greenhouse gases.

Item #d92feb6

"Oceanic Consumption of CH3CCl3: Implications for Tropospheric OH," J.H. Butler (CMDL, NOAA, 325 Broadway, Boulder CO 80303), J.W. Elkins et al., J. Geophys. Res., 96(D12), 22,347-22,355, Dec. 20, 1991.

Data collected over a two-month period in the mid-Pacific provide the first direct evidence of CH3CCl3 consumption in the surface waters of the ocean, possibly 5 to 11% of the CH3CCl3 removed from the atmosphere. This neglected sink represents a systematic error in calculating tropospheric OH concentration from CH3CCl3 production, growth and distribution in the atmosphere. (See Research News, this GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DIGEST issue--Feb. 1992.)

Item #d92feb7

"Influences of Various Forcing Variables on Global Energy Balance During the Period of Intensive Instrumental Observation (1958-1987) and Their Implications for Paleoclimate," J. Gunn (Brockington & Assoc., 1921 Billabong Lane, Chapel Hill NC 27516), Clim. Change, 19(4), 393-420, Dec. 1991.

Analysis of factors contributing to the global energy balance, based on the 30-year record of atmospheric variables, shows that the El Ni?o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), CO2 changes and variations in solar energy output each account for about a quarter or more of the variability in the balance. The ENSO appears to act as a hemispheric energy balancing mechanism. Examination of past climates, in terms of alternating hemispheric dominance of global climate and related patterns of periodic stability, could explain the rise and fall of some complex hierarchical social systems.

Item #d92feb8

"Can Intensive Management Increase Carbon Storage in Forests?" P. Schroeder (ERL, EPA, 200 SW 35th St., Corvallis OR 97333), Environ. Mgmt., 15(4), 475-481, July-Aug. 1991.

Uses data from the literature and from forest growth and yield models applied to Douglas-fir and loblolly pine, to analyze the effect of three management practices: thinning, fertilization, and control of competing vegetation. Thinning generally does not increase carbon storage, but fertilization does; the largest gains in carbon storage are likely to come from fertilizing thinned or less dense stands.

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