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Global warming: New research suggests climate may be more sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought

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Convective clouds over the Florida coast. bberwyn photo.

Correcting models with new information on cloud formation leads to higher projected temperature increases

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Climate scientists taking a closer look at the role of water vapor in cloud formation say the climate is probably more sensitive to greenhouse gases than most existing models suggest.

Based on those observations, they concluded that global temperatures could easily climb by at least 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unchecked.

The research, published in the journal Nature, helps answer one of the long-standing questions about climate sensitivity — the role of cloud formation and whether this will have a positive or negative effect on global warming. Continue reading

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Morning photo: Clouds

Not just water vapor …

Clouds over Dillon Reservoir and the Tenmile Range.

SUMMIT COUNTY — When #FriFotos founder @EpsteinTravels announced the theme for this week’s popular Twitter chat I nearly fell out of my chair. Sometimes it feels like I spend half my life chasing clouds and light to get good photos. Clouds are the life-giving substance of the atmosphere, bringing snow and rain that nourishes the Earth and keeps our rivers flowing, our lakes filled and, ultimately, replenishes the oceans. A sad word of caution: Scientists tell us that the planet’s water cycle is speeding up and intensifying because of global warming. Those beautiful clouds will fill up with more water, leading to increased flooding in some places and more drought in other areas. But for now, enjoy these cloud scenes from around the world.

Climate: Extreme rainfall events increasingly common

Increased atmospheric water vapor seen as key ingredient

Extreme rainfall events have increased in the past few decades.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Parts of the U.S. have seen clear statistical trends more extreme precipitation events in the past few decades, according to a new paper from the American Meteorological Society based on extensive research from federal and state agencies, as well as academic sources.

Increased water vapor in the atmosphere, as outlined by many climate change models, may be one of the key factors in the the observed changes, according to the researchers, who said that weren’t able to measure statistically significant changes in severe thunderstorms.

But for extreme precipitation, “there is strong evidence for a nationally-averaged upward trend in the frequency and intensity of events,” the paper concludes. About 76 percent of all stations reported increases in extreme precipitation. Continue reading

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