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Climate Change Is Due To… Water Vapor

Compare and contrast the treatment of this (access by subscription only) report.

First from the New York Times:

Less Water Vapor May Slow Warming Trends


January 29, 2010

A decrease in water vapor concentrations in parts of the middle atmosphere has contributed to a slowing of Earth’s warming, researchers are reporting. The finding, they said, offers part of the explanation for a string of years with relatively stable global surface temperatures.

Despite the decrease in water vapor, the study’s authors said, the overall trend is still toward a warming climate, primarily caused by a buildup in emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from human sources.

“This doesn’t alter the fundamental conclusion that the world has warmed and that most of that warming has to do with greenhouse gas emissions caused by man,” said Susan Solomon, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the lead author of the report, which appears in the Jan. 29 issue of the journal Science.

Water vapor, a potent heat-trapping gas, absorbs sunlight and re-emits heat into Earth’s atmosphere. Its concentrations in the stratosphere, the second of three layers in the atmosphere, appear to have decreased in the last 10 years, according to the study.

This has slowed the rate of Earth’s warming by about 25 percent, Dr. Solomon said

The study also found that from 1980 to 2000, an increase in water vapor sped the rate of warming — the result of an increase in emissions of methane, another greenhouse gas, during the industrial period. Methane, when oxidized, produces water vapor. Why a decrease in water vapor has occurred in the last 10 years is still unknown.

Dr. Solomon emphasized that the study focused on the atmosphere’s middle layer, not to be confused with the troposphere, Earth’s first layer. It has been known for years that water vapor in the troposphere amplifies the effect of greenhouse gas emissions.

Some climate skeptics have claimed that a spate of years with relatively stable temperatures indicates that the threat of global warming has been overblown.

Last week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration released figures indicating that the decade ending in 2009 was the warmest on record.

From the UK’s Telegraph:

Water vapour is a major cause of global warming and cooling find scientists

Water vapour is a major cause of global warming and cooling, according to a new study that will spark further debate over the science of climate change.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
29 Jan 2010

The research by scientists at the American weather service found water vapour high in the atmosphere is far more influential on world temperatures than previously thought.

During the 1990s one third of the increase in global temperatures was due to an increase in water vapour. In the same way a drop in water vapour after 2000 could explain the recent slowdown in global warming.

The researchers insist their findings do not mean that global warming is not caused by man made greenhouse gases. But the effect of natural water vapour high up in the air may also be having an effect

The new research by US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is published in the journal Science, one of the most respected in the world.

Susan Solomon, who led the research and worked on the IPCC, said climate scientists need to take into account the effect of water vapour high in the atmosphere when studying global warming.

“Current climate models do a remarkable job on water vapour near the surface. But this is different — it’s a thin wedge of the upper atmosphere that packs a wallop from one decade to the next in a way we didn’t expect,”

Vicky Pope, Head of Climate Change Advice at the Met Office, said the research does not change the long term trend of warming caused by man made greenhouse gases. But it does show how water vapour in the stratosphere is also affecting temperature.

The New York Times uses the report to try to save their religion from the inopportune lack of ‘global warming’ over the last ten years. (Something even admitted by the CRU’s website at the University Of East Anglia.)

The Telegraph, on the other hand, seems to think the report indicates that water vapor determines global warming and cooling so much it dwarfs whatever effect man can have.

They can’t both be right. And yet we are told this is ‘settled science.’

Still, who is going to break the news to Mr. Bin Laden?

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, January 29th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

14 Responses to “Climate Change Is Due To… Water Vapor”

  1. BillK says:

    In short, clouds affect temperature. Oooh, what a shock.

    But does this by extension mean the push for hydrogen-fueled vehicles should be terminated?

    Remember when they were considered the ultimate “green” vehicle because they emitted only water vapor?

    Now they’re the enemy!

    • jobeth says:

      “But does this by extension mean the push for hydrogen-fueled vehicles should be terminated? ”

      That was the first thing that crossed my mind as I read this story. Why doesn’t he cut to the chase and just outlaw everything but foot traffic?

      Even bicycles won’t do because as you are peddling 9 to the dozen, you are creating sweat…AND carbon dioxide…and of course that sweat evaporates and rises.

      At this rate why are we trying to buy eco friendly fridges, and appliances? We won’t have electricity to run them and goodness knows we certainly can’t manufacture them much less deliver them. All that is anti green.

      Of course, when we all die from food poisoning from the rotting food…that will answer the health care issue.

      Our boy king has thought of everything.

      I’ll bet Obalmy is looking to Haiti for tips in how to make the public live outside without power.

      Ahhh, back to nature.

    • MinnesotaRush says:

      Ah yes! Haiti. The mecca of progress. :-)

  2. Freedom615 says:

    Holy crap, I really don’t care at this point as I sit here freezing in my home state! Somebody do SOMETHING to promote warming, please!

  3. proreason says:

    It looks like somebody has identified a second factor that affects climate. For the first 100,000 years of human history, we only knew about carbon. Now it appears that water has an impact. Who knew?

    When wil they get to the other 10 billion factors?

    And will they ever stumble across that thingey up in the sky. Whadoyacallit….oh yeh, the sun?

  4. canary says:

    Government’s ” 10/10/10 ” (H2O = 10/10/10) surprising some scientists. Without water vapor we would die.

    Study: Water vapor may help ‘flatten global warming trend’ By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY Jan 29 1010

    Solomon was also a co-chair of one of the groups within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that put out the definitive forecast of global warming in 2007.

    “We call this the 10/10/10 paper,” says Solomon. “10 miles above your head, there is 10% less water vapor than there was 10 years ago.”

    The findings are “surprising,” says Bill Randel, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who was not part of the study. He said it was surprising how big an effect such a very little change in stratospheric water vapor has had on the surface climate.


    …Water vapor is extremely important to the weather and climate. Without out it, there would be no clouds or rain or snow, …

    … Water vapor is also the Earth’s most important greenhouse gas, giving us over 90% of the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect…

    …helps keep the Earth warm enough to support life…. helps to cool the surface of the Earth… by Dr. Roy W. Spencer


  5. Reality Bytes says:

    That’s not a cloud! It’s Barney’s butt buddy’s Bong Pipe Smoke. I swear you can see it for miles (except Barney that is).

  6. Enthalpy says:

    Several serious scientists have said all along that clouds or water vapor has been a major component of understanding weather-not AGW, but weather. There is no AGW and never has been. What is exasperating in all of this is that, for the most part, heads have not rolled. Al Gore should have to pay dearly for this crime! All of them should.

  7. wirenut says:

    As a passenger and casual observer of this gift from God, called Earth. I believe many give mankind too much credit for it’s demise or it’s resuscitation. Can we clean up a river,lake or stream? Hell yes! I’ve seen it happen . Can we reduce what we put into the ground? Hell yes! I’ve seen it happen. Can we effect our climate? Nah! Maybe? Huh?
    The agenda scientists destroyed any information on the truth, by pushing their agenda. So who are we to believe/blame now?
    I really don’t care, and whatever happens, I know its not in our hands. I don’t need somebody else’s weak explanation for God or nature.
    S**T happens, like all other species before us, adapt or die. Oh! 3/4’s of this planet’s surface is water, either liquid, solid or vapor. It’s all good. Unless you have to tread it, shovel it or stand out in it. It may be more about us, then it is about the climate.

  8. GTBurns says:

    We need to stop this AGW crap so we can deal with real environmental issues like real pollution. Like toxic chemicals in our air and water.

    The majority of public is already turned against Global Warming, a recent poll said that 80 percent of Americans think global warming is a fraud.

    Like the recent canceling of the NASA moon mission, Obama is trying to drive his radical agenda more and more because he knows he is finished. He no longer enjoys a filibuster proof congress and even before the Mass. Election he could not get things done like he wanted. Now he knows he only has a year of a majority on congress and it is pretty much certain he will be a one termer.

  9. bill says:

    This is just weird, since water vapor is 95 or so percent of the amtospheres greenhouse component who ever thought it might control climate when we have the 380 ppm of CO2 in there that dominates.

    Next week they will figure out the galactic cosmic rays can generate clouds.

  10. MinnesotaRush says:

    “Less Water Vapor May Slow Warming Trends – By SINDYA N. BHANOO”

    Well .. as long as Sindya keeps writing this kind of crap, he (or she – I certainly dunno) has got a job for life with the Times – that is if they can keep the bird cage liner plant afloat.

    If not, I’m sure there’d be a position for her over at the IPCC (if they can keep that open, too).

  11. Chuckk says:

    First we discovered the air we breath will cause the end of the world. Now we find the water we drink is also responsible. It looks like the only way to stop the destruction it is to tax and regulate everytthing.

  12. jobeth says:

    I guess we have to stop using hot water…and by the way…turn off that tea kettle!

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