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Carbon output rising faster than forecast, says study

David Adam, Guardian
· Global warming ‘will come sooner and be stronger’
· Chinese growth and loss of natural ‘sinks’ highlighted

Scientists warned last night that global warming will be “stronger than expected and sooner than expected”, after a new analysis showed carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than predicted.

Experts said that the rise was down to soaring economic development in China, and a reduction in the amount of carbon pollution soaked up by the world’s land and oceans. It also means human emissions will have to be cut more sharply than predicted to avoid the likely effects.

Corinne Le Quere, a climate expert at the University of East Anglia and British Antarctic Survey, who helped conduct the study, said: “It’s bad news because the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide has accelerated since 2000 in a way we did not expect. My biggest worry is people are discouraged by this and do nothing. I hope political leaders will act on this, because we need to do something fast.”

The study worsens even the gloomy predictions of this year’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC, which shared the Nobel peace prize this month with Al Gore, said there were only eight years left to prevent the worst effects of global warming, by acting to curb emissions.

Dr Le Quere said: “We are emitting far more than anticipated when the IPCC scenarios were drawn up in the late 1990s.” Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning has risen by an average 2.9% each year since 2000. During the 1990s the annual rise was 0.7%.
(23 October 2007)

At the Poles, Melting Occurring at Alarming Rate

Doug Struck, Washington Post
For scientists, global warming is a disaster movie, its opening scenes set at the poles of Earth. The epic already has started. And it’s not fiction.

The scenes are playing, at the start, in slow motion: The relentless grip of the Arctic Ocean that defied man for centuries is melting away. The sea ice reaches only half as far as it did 50 years ago. In the summer of 2006, it shrank to a record low; this summer the ice pulled back even more, by an area nearly the size of Alaska. Where explorer Robert Peary just 102 years ago saw “a great white disk stretching away apparently infinitely” from Ellesmere Island, there is often nothing now but open water. Glaciers race into the sea from the island of Greenland, beginning an inevitable rise in the oceans.

Animals are on the move. Polar bears, kings of the Arctic, now search for ice on which to hunt and bear young. Seals, walrus and fish adapted to the cold are retreating north. New species — salmon, crabs, even crows — are coming from the south. The Inuit, who have lived on the frozen land for millennia, are seeing their houses sink into once-frozen mud, and their hunting trails on the ice are pocked with sinkholes.
(22 October 2007)

GAO: Agencies should share climate change data
Government Accounting Office (GAO)
Full title:
Climate Change Research:
Agencies Have Data-Sharing Policies but Could Do More to Enhance the Availability of Data from Federally Funded Research

Why GAO Did This Study

Much of the nearly $2 billion annual climate change research budget supports grants from the Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Science Foundation (NSF). Some of the data generated by this research are stored in online archives, but much remains in a less accessible format with individual researchers. As a result, some researchers are concerned about the availability of data.

GAO analyzed (1) the key issues that data-sharing policies should address; (2) the data-sharing requirements, policies, and practices for external climate change researchers funded by DOE, NASA, NOAA, and NSF; and (3) the extent to which these agencies foster data sharing. GAO examined requirements, policies, and practices and surveyed the 64 officials managing climate change grants at these agencies.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends the agencies explore opportunities in the grants process to better ensure the availability of data to other researchers and determine if additional archiving strategies are warranted. In commenting on a draft of this report, the four agencies generally agreed with our findings and recommendations. We incorporated technical clarifications as appropriate.
(September 2007)
Report highlights (1-page PDF)
Full report (61-page PDF)