Feeds

Boffin dubs global warming 'irreversible'

Environmental researchers are such downers

High performance access to file storage

Economies may rise and fall every few decades or so, but at least the hard work we've put into global warming is "irreversible" on the human time scale.

That's according to research from a team of US environmental scientists published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The report claims that even if all carbon emissions could somehow be halted, the CO2 changes to Earth's surface temperature, rainfall, and sea levels will keep on truckin' for at least a millennium.

"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to normal in 100 years or 200 years," said study author Susan Soloman. "What we're showing here is that's not right. It's essentially an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years."

Oh, for the job security of a carbon dioxide molecule.

The scientists say the oceans are currently absorbing much of the planet's excess heat, but that heat will eventually be released back into the air over the course of many hundreds of years.

Carbon concentrations in the atmosphere today stand at about 385 parts per million (ppm). Many environmental scientists have a vague hope of stabilizing CO2 in the atmosphere at 450ppm if major changes in carbon emissions are instituted post-haste.

But according to the study, if CO2 peaks at 450-600ppm, the result still could include persistent dry-season rainfall comparable to the 1930s North American Dust Bowl in zones including southern Europe, northern and southern Africa, southwestern North America, and western Australia.

If carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reaches 600ppm, expansion of warming ocean waters alone (not taking into account melting glaciers and polar ice sheets) could cause sea levels to rise by at least 1.3 to 3.2 feet (0.4 to 1.0 meter) by the year 3000.

The authors claim to have relied on many different climate models to support their results. They said they focused on drying of particular regions and thermal expansion of the ocean because observations suggesting humans are contributing to climate change have already been measured.

So remember readers: an extra hour to your car ride today may help make it a warm, sunny day at the London coral reef for your grateful descendants no matter what those UN hippies try. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.