April 15, 2009

Global warming can no longer be avoided

U.S. government scientists say their research indicates the effects of significant global warming on Earth can no longer be avoided.

But the researchers said a worldwide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would reduce the effects, lessening sea-level rise and possibly saving Arctic Sea ice.

The study, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, determined that if all nations cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 70 percent this century, the most dangerous potential aspects of climate change -- including significant sea-level rise and massive losses of Arctic sea ice and permafrost -- could be partially avoided.

This important study, when taken with similar efforts, will help define a major challenge for society, said Cliff Jacobs of the National Science Foundation, which partially funded the study.

The study's lead author, NCAR scientist Warren Washington, said the findings gained through several supercomputer studies indicate the Earth can no longer avoid significant global warming during this century. But, he said, if the world were to implement this level of emission cuts, we could stabilize the threat of climate change.

The European Union has called for dramatic cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers said. The U.S. Congress is debating the issue.

The findings will be reported in next week's edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.