Minutes of the November 15, 1999 Meeting
Smoky Mountain AMS Chapter


The meeting began at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Southern Brewing Co., 424 S. Gay Street. The next meeting will be Jan 17, 1999.

The business of the meeting:

The technical program for the evening was presented by Mr. Dale Kaiser, the Deputy Director and a Climatologist at Oak Ridge National Lab's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC). A great amount of pertinent data are archived there. Dale talk was entitled: "Views Of Global Warming: Still Fuzzy, Some Would Maintain"

"Global warming. The term has become a part of our everyday vocabulary over the past few decades. In June 1988, NASA climate modeler Dr. James Hansen testified before the U.S. Senate that he was "99% certain" that global warming was taking place. His testimony touched off A LOT of media attention and caused the "man on the street" to consider what has since become a complicated and even emotional environmental issue. The public has been swamped by media reports covering a number of other reportedly global warming-related (in a fuzzy sort of way) phenomena: the greenhouse effect; increases in greenhouse gases; the ozone hole; major El Niņo events; sea level rise; melting glaciers; intense hurricanes; floods; droughts; summer heat waves; and on and on. The six warmest years in the modern global mean temperature record have all occurred in the 1990s; 1998 being the warmest year to date (http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/temp/jonescru/jones.html).

Are humans causing global warming and in effect experimenting with the global climate system? As CDIAC's resident climatologist, I'm regularly asked this question by our users who don't happen to be scientists. While there is well-documented evidence of anthropogenic effects such as the buildup of atmospheric CO2 and decreasing stratospheric ozone levels, there is far from universal agreement on what role we may be playing in observed climate variation. It's important to realize that the greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring phenomenon; atmospheric water vapor, clouds, and other trace gases trap heat near the surface and keep the planet much warmer than it would otherwise be without an atmosphere. The multi-billion dollar question is: are rising greenhouse gas concentrations strengthening this effect enough to artificially warm the planet?

This question will not be answered by this presentation. I simply wish to give an overview of some of the key issues involved in the debate and illustrate some of the complexities involved. I'll also briefly touch upon how my organization, CDIAC, fits into the U.S. Government's involvement in global change research."




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