Panel's Earth-Warming Finding
by John J. Fialka
WASHINGTON -- A scientific panel convened by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has concluded that the Earth's surface and its upper atmosphere have been warming as a result of climate change at least partly caused by human activity.
Thomas Karl, director of the NOAA's climate-data center, said the findings resolve a "nagging issue" between climate-change experts and their skeptics. Because of poor data analysis and errors in some satellite data, he said, earlier measurements had shown the Earth was warming but the atmosphere wasn't.
A few scientists and some outside skeptics pounced on the discrepancy, arguing that computer models predicting climate change showed both surface temperatures and atmospheric temperatures warming. Since satellite data didn't appear to reflect the atmosphere's warming, they argued that the theory of man-induced climate change might be wrong or overstated.
The new report, written by 21 scientists from inside and outside the government, shows a "significant discrepancy no longer exists" between Earth and atmospheric warming, taken on a global average basis. The report notes that numerous studies show "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system" because of concentrations of carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions in the atmosphere.
The study is the first in a series of 21 commissioned by the Bush administration that attempt to resolve scientific questions pertaining to climate change. "We welcome today's report," said Michele St. Martin, spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She said President Bush continues to support volunteer efforts to curb carbon-dioxide emissions.
Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said the report "shows we can stop arguing about whether this is a real problem or not, or whether humans caused it, and get on with some real solutions." The center is a nonprofit group that has been pressing for federal legislation to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases.
(The report, "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences," can be found at www.climatescience.gov.)
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