Cloudy days ahead for global climate models

     For years, those critical of computer models suggesting a warming of the earth’s temperature were ridiculed as “nay Sayers” and “flat-earthers”. Global Climate Models (a.k.a. GCMs), believed many, can be relied upon with certainty to predict future global warming.

     Now comes new research suggesting the “nay Sayers” may not be flat-earthers, but flat-out right thinkers.

     The problem with the GCMs has always been their relationship to cloud cover, which tends to regulate the earth’s temperature to a far greater degree than the models suggest. The new research, conducted by the American Meteorological Society, has uncovered a huge heat vent over the Pacific Ocean that may be releasing enough energy into space to “significantly diminish the projected climate warming caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

     This heat vent works as follows: As the surface of the ocean heats up, the formation of cirrus clouds – i.e. high altitude clouds of ice crystals – diminishes. This is because, according to Richard Lindzen of MIT, “with warmer sea surface temperatures beneath the cloud, the coalescence process that produces precipitation becomes more efficient [and] more cloud droplets form raindrops and fewer are left in the cloud to form ice crystals.” What this all means is that rising temperatures tend to melt away thin, icy cirrus clouds floating around in the sky – and that’s a good thing because these clouds tend to act as greenhouse facilitators by letting the sun’s heat pass through the earth’s atmosphere but get trapped inside. Once these clouds are reduced in size and area cover, however, temperatures begin to plummet – plummet, that is, until the earth reaches a certain temperature and then they form all over again in an ongoing cycle.

     Current GCMs, as might be expected, account for none of this. But if the research holds true, the earth may be much less sensitive to the warming effects of greenhouse gases than previously thought. Indeed, the researchers believe this new finding alone could reduce by 2/3rds the projected increase of global temperatures – which all in all might be disappointing news to those of us counting on warmer days ahead!


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CFACT defends the environment and human welfare through facts, news, and analysis.