Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Why the stall in warming? According to The Economist, maybe we’ve overestimated the warming impact of clouds. Or maybe some clouds cool instead of warm the planet. Or maybe the oceans are absorbing heat from the atmosphere. Although the surface temperature of the oceans hasn’t been rising, perhaps the warming is happening deep down. James Hansen thinks new coal-fired plants in China and India, releasing so-called aerosols into the atmosphere that act to suppress warming, may be partly responsible for the stasis in temperatures.
Hansen writes that knowing more about the effect of aerosols on the climate “requires accurate knowledge of changes in aerosol amount, size distribution, absorption and vertical distribution on a global basis — as well as simultaneous data on changes in cloud properties to allow inference of the indirect aerosol forcing via induced cloud changes.” Is that all? He ruefully notes that the launch of a satellite with a sensor to measure all of this failed, with no follow-up mission planned.
Hey, but don’t worry. The science is all “settled.”