Skip to comments.Water builds the heat in Europe
Posted on 11/12/2005 11:31:33 PM PST by dila813
Water vapour rather than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the main reason why Europe's climate is warming, according to a new study.
The scientists say that rising temperatures caused by greenhouse gases are increasing humidity, which in turn amplifies the temperature rise.
This is potentially a positive feedback mechanism which could increase the impact of greenhouse gases such as CO2.
The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The scientists involved have used research networks and weather stations across Europe to measure temperature, humidity and longwave radiation, which plays a key role in the greenhouse effect.
Not from the Sun
"We observed that between 1995 and 2002, the amount of longwave radiation coming downwards to the Earth in Europe increased significantly, whereas solar radiation did not," said study leader Rolf Philipona, from the World Radiation Center in Davos, Switzerland.
Longwave radiation comes from molecules of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapour which have absorbed solar radiation after it has hit the Earth's surface and been reflected back up through the atmosphere.
"We wondered if this effect was simply because of a temperature increase at the surface - you would just get more radiation going up, and so more coming back down," Dr Philipona told the BBC News website.
"But we allowed for this, and for the impact of extra clouds, but still we found an increase."
The researchers calculated that this increase is partly down to higher concentrations of the gases such as carbon dioxide which are often described as causing the "man-made greenhouse effect"; but increased water vapour appears to have a larger effect, accounting for about 70% of the observed temperature rise.
Not all regions of Europe are affected equally.
Between 1995 and 2002, Eastern states appear to have warmed by a rate equivalent to about 2C per decade - considerably faster than their western counterparts.
According to the new study, that may well be down to humidity differences; broadly speaking, humidity has risen fast in the east but not in the west, where evaporation may be limited by the dryness of the Iberian peninsula.
The ASRB unit at Gornergrat in the Alps measures longwave radiation
Although rising concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides and other gases are almost certainly driving the global rise in temperature observed in recent decades, the natural greenhouse effect - without which the world would be considerably colder - is largely down to atmospheric water vapour.
Because human activities change its concentrations very little, it is generally not mentioned in discussions of modern-day greenhouse warming.
But climate scientists have been aware for decades that mechanisms involving water vapour could amplify temperature increases, and have attempted to model these effects in computer simulations.
Researchers sceptical about projections of human-induced climate change base their criticism partly on what they see as flawed simulations of water vapour and clouds.
So will this discovery force a re-evaluation of climate models? William Ingram, from the UK's Meteorological Office and Oxford University, believes not.
"This careful study confirms that this aspect of the climate system is behaving broadly as expected," he told the BBC News website.
"It is therefore consistent with projections by the scientific consensus."
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But Rolf Philipona believes there might be regional implications which had not been appreciated before.
"There will be some parts of the world affected by strong feedback and others not - perhaps even a drying in some places," he said.
"We would see that water vapour would go up where there is enough water on the ground."
An increased concentration of water vapour is just one of the feedback mechanisms which could change or amplify the progress of human-induced global warming.
melting of ice, leading to a greater absorption of sunlight
the conversion of forests from net absorbers of carbon dioxide to net producers
the release of trapped methane from permafrost.
Recent studies indicate that the first two of these mechanisms may already be in train.
Someone will find a way of blaming this on man and more specifically the U.S.
this is what I've been saying for the past 10 years. It's common sense/knowledge...but don't try to know better than a scientist...you got a PhD, you know better...and get paid better for being believed as knowing better.
First, if the sun isn't putting out more energy, then why are the ice caps on Mars melting?
Second, Most of Europe and North America were covered with ice around 15,000 years ago. Obviously it got significantly warmer since that then. If everything is man's fault, what happened then?
Clearly the planet is not static. It is constantly changing. To think we can just freeze the climate into a particular state is just plain foolish.
Oops... "... since then."
It's those two rovers the eeeevil U.S. sent to Mars. They're really SUVs. *twirling moustache* Muah-hahahahaha!
Solution: coat the ocean surface with a thin layer of whale oil...
This is backpedaling, from earlier claims that man made CO2 is the major cuprit in "Global Warming" I say, "Global Warming" is a problem, every time it happens. And it has happened over and over again in geologic time. As far back as the Coal Age, we had considerable increase in "Global Warming" resulting in ecological changes worldwide. As recently as the Middle Ages, palm trees grew in Southern England. This is clear, and the connection between man made CO2 and "Global Warming" isn't.
This is just more proof of the deadly threat posed by dihydrogen monoxide. Ban it now!
Let me be the first: Its all Starbuck's fault! Brewing steaming coffee and frothing milk is just ruining the planet.
Oh, great! now we have to ban water?
Go to Phoenix and look what adding water to the landscape has done to the region. This once healthy location - for people with breathing problems - has now the same water and vegation as any major city in America. No hot dry summers, now hot hummid summers.
Does this mean that the emissions from the burning cars in France are part of the problem since water is used to put out the fires?
That's part of what makes the whole "Global Warming" media show such a joke.
I find it fascinating that the temperatures have not been this warm in Italy since the 1700s, which of course was a very bad year for key industrial output across the world /sarc.
Brilliant, these europeans.
too timely for a Sunday.
Oh, I can hear the greens advocating bans on crop irrigation already.
"Dry farming, for the earth!"
Better invest in those hydroponics now.