|Water vapor trends slowing warming now|
|Written by Megan Maginity, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Tuesday, 09 February 2010 22:26|
Researchers are now reporting that a decrease in water vapor has contributed to a slowing of the Earth’s warming. It offers an explanation for why the planet has had stable global surface temperatures.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science report explains in depth how the overall warming movement is caused by a boost in emissions of carbon dioxide and additional heat-trapping gases from humans.
Water vapor is an important greenhouse gas. The atmosphere is composed of nitrogen and oxygen.
“A major component of atmosphere is water vapor. The oceans are a major source of water vapor,” School of Biological Sciences Director and Professor H. Tak Cheung said.
Water vapor also absorbs the sunlight and re-emits heat into Earth’s atmosphere.
The result is a warmer atmosphere and planet.
“Water vapor is a major greenhouse gas. The reason greenhouses are so important is because Earth’s temperature range is so narrow that it is a necessary existence for life.
“When you have a minor change in greenhouse gases, it can lead to a few degree variations. On Earth it is a big deal because Earth’s climate system is based on energy produced. By elevating the Earth’s temperature by a few degrees it can cause a climate shift,” Cheung said.
Most scientists will have the same opinion on the greenhouse effect and that these changes in the atmosphere do occur.
There has been considerable scientific evidence that greenhouse gases generated from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gas are trapping the sun’s energy and resulting in the warming trend, according to School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor of Genetics John Sedbrook.
“Scientists think the relatively lower stratospheric water vapor amounts are due to fewer large tropical storms carrying the water vapor that high.
“This lull in tropical storms is likely to be only temporary, which would mean that global warming will resume at an alarming pace,” Sedbrook said.
Warmer temperatures result in more water evaporating from the Earth’s surface including from lakes, streams, land and oceans.
“The fact of the matter is if we do nothing now, it will be too late to stop the changes and our children and children’s children will pay a heavy price,” Sedbrook said.
In the future, it will take a considerable economic investment and human lifestyle changes to slow down and stop global warming.