The sky IS falling

The sky IS falling

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— gavin @ 26 November 2006 –


A timely perspective article in Science this week addresses the issues of upper atmosphere change. ‘Upper’ atmosphere here is the stratosphere up to the ionosphere (~20 to 300 km). Laštovička et al point out that cooling trends are exactly as predicted by increasing greenhouse gas trends, and that the increase in density that this implies is causing various ionspheric layers to ‘fall’. This was highlighted a few years back by Jarvis et al (1998) and in New Scientist in 1999 (and I apologise for stealing their headline!).

The changes in the figure are related to the cooling seen in the lower stratospheric MSU-4 records (UAH or RSS), but the changes there (~ 15-20 km) are predominantly due to ozone depletion. The higher up one goes, the more important the CO2 related cooling is. It’s interesting to note that significant solar forcing would have exactly the opposite effect (it would cause a warming) – yet another reason to doubt that solar forcing is a significant factor in recent decades.

Update: The best explanation for the cooling trends can be found on ESPERE (alternative site), in particular, figure 3 (alt. version).

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