Climate Sensitivity — Worse than We Thought, Study Concludes


Well, a few folks have been saying for a while that we’re underestimating climate sensitivity. A new study out of Sweden finds that’s the case. Rolf Schuttenhelm, writing over on Bits of Science notes that there’s a huge pile of studies on climate sensitivity and the IPCC gives us the average prediction of them all (summarizing in simple terms, of course). But that doesn’t discount the findings of this latest study, and Dr Joe Romm notes: “There’s been a lot of confusion this year on how sensitive the climate is to greenhouse gases (see Media Misleads On Flawed Climate Sensitivity Study: Avoiding “Drastic Changes Over Land” Requires Emissions Cuts ASAP). Given all the media attention given to one (flawed) study, a little attention to other studies seems worthwhile.”

On to the study results:

“The new Swedish climate sensitivity research has just been published (PDF) in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union,” Schuttenhelm reports.

“The authors argue that climate sensitivity could be ‘greater than previously believed’ because in the initial phases of the current CO2-induced warming plant life has emitted larger amounts of precursor gases that lead to the formation of reflective or blocking* secondary organic aerosols (SOA) in the atmosphere, thereby acting as a negative climate feedback, and masking part of the ‘warming’ that’s occurring underneath.”

Read more on Bits of Science, Climate Progress, or the University of Gothenberg via the links above.


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is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009.

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