Doing Something About the Climate: Greenhouse Gases, Aerosols, Radiative Forcing, and Implications. Schwartz S. E. Physics Colloquium, Brookhaven National Laboratory, November 8, 2005.

Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. Well, now with emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we are doing something about the climate, exerting a radiative "forcing" of climate change, with expectation of substantial resultant climate change. The big question is what will the climate system do in response: How much will Earth's average temperature increase? What other changes can be expected? And what is the evidence in support of present understanding that is the basis for such expectations? While the overall picture seems fairly clear, many questions remain. Much of the present uncertainty in radiative forcing of climate change is related to the effects of atmospheric aerosols, which scatter light and modify the microphysical and optical properties of clouds, exerting a cooling influence, which is thought to be offsetting much of the greenhouse gas orcing. This aerosol forcing has major implications on the interpretation of climate change over the industrial period and also on future climate change that might be expected. In the meantime, what information can be provided to guide formulation of policy?

This page was last updated 2005-11-08.

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