Many environmental scientists believe that the Earth’s climate is undergoing a major change: it appears to be warming up at a rapid rate.
Science Express, the online version of Science magazine, recently reported that three studies have been published which show flaws that skewed the research of a well-known study. The 1990 study was conducted by John R. Christy and Roy W. Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The original study is highly cited by skeptics of global warming theories. The researchers, Christy and Spencer, analyzed data taken from satellites and weather balloons. Their results indicated that the troposphere was warming at the rate of 0.09 degrees Centigrade per decade, which is greatly reduced from previous estimations made by computer models. The researchers went on to say that the troposphere, the lowest level of the Earth’s atmosphere, was not warming, and added that the atmosphere might actually be cooling down.
However, when the study was scrutinized by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, several errors were reported as found. After the errors were corrected, the data showed that the troposphere was warming at a rate of 0.2 degrees Centigrade or 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, which is nearly double the rate estimated by the Christy and Spencer analysis.
Carl A. Mears and Frank J. Wentz of Remote Sensing Systems in Santa Rosa, California completed a study which also looked at the Christy and Spencer analysis. Mears and Wentz analyzed satellite data which had been collected since 1979 to obtain a more accurate temperature trend. The researchers found that when the satellites drifted in orbit, the time of day that the temperatures were being taken also changed. The satellites were reporting some nighttime temperatures instead of the daytime, which is believed to be the cause of the false cooling trend reported in the Christy and Spencer analysis. Steven Sherwood, an atmospheric physicist at Yale, is the lead researcher of a third study examining satellite and weather balloon data.
These studies, eliminating the fundamental discrepancies between modeled and observed temperature trends, have also eliminated a major obstacle in the understanding of the nature and causes of climate change. The majority of researchers in the field of global warming now agree that the atmosphere is definitely warming and will be causing significant climate changes in the future.
Currently, researchers are still debating the details of the research models used to determine the temperature readings and projections.