Feeds

Scientists blame balloons for climate change debate

The case for global warming just got stronger

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Researchers at the US' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may have overturned one of the key weapons in the armoury of climate-change sceptics.

Data from weather balloons in the 1970s has long puzzled scientists, because it appears to contradict computer models of global warming. Most models have a strong link between the temperature of the air, and that of the Earth. But atmospheric data showed little or no change in atmospheric temperatures since the 1970s, despite warming at ground level.

However, it seems that this data was not subject to proper analysis, the scientists say, and the impressions it gives - that temperatures have remained roughly constant in the intervening decades - is misleading.

"Even though models predict a close link between atmospheric and surface temperatures, there has been a large difference in the actual measurements," said study leader Steven Sherwood, an associate professor of geology and geophysics at Yale.

"This has muddied the interpretation of reported warming," he told Reuters.

The problem lies in the placement of the temperature sensors. Early on in research, the sensors were in exposed positions, often in direct sunlight. Just as standing in the sun on a warm day feels warmer than standing in the shade, this led to temperature readings that were too high.

In later research, the sensors were changed to reduce this warming effect. However, the discovery that the earliest data is likely to be misleadingly warm does help explain the discrepancies between the models of the lower atmosphere and the data. It suggests that the temperatures are likely to have risen, after all.

The research team says that once the warming effect is accounted for, there has most likely been an increase in temperature of 0.2 degrees Celsius, each decade for the last thirty years.

The research, published in the journal Science, shows that "we can't hang our hats on the old balloon numbers", as Sherwood puts it.

Reuters reports that two additional studies published in Science support the findings of Sherwood and his team. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?