85th AMS Annual Meeting

Thursday, 13 January 2005: 8:30 AM
Progress in measuring the radiative forcing of global warming
W. F. J. Evans, Trent University, Peterborough, ON, Canada
The earth's climate system is warmed by 35 C due to the emission of downward infrared radiation by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (surface radiative forcing) or by the absorption of upward infrared radiation (radiative trapping). Increases in this emission/absorption are the driving force behind global warming. Climate models predict that the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has altered the radiative energy balance at the earth's surface by several percent by increasing the greenhouse radiation from the atmosphere. With measurements at high spectral resolution, this increase can be quantitatively attributed to each of several anthropogenic gases. Calibrated radiance spectra of the greenhouse radiation from the atmosphere have been measured at ground level from Peterborough and Mirabel using FTIR spectroscopy at high resolution. The forcing radiative fluxes from CFC11, CFC12, CCl4, HNO3, O3, N2O, CH4, CO and CO2 have been quantitatively determined over a range of seasons. The contributions from stratospheric ozone and tropospheric ozone are separated by our measurement techniques. A comparison between our measurements of surface forcing emission and measurements of radiative trapping absorption from the IMG satellite instrument shows reasonable agreement. The experimental fluxes are simulated well by the FASCOD3 radiation code. This code has been used to calculate the increase in surface radiative forcing since 1850 to be 2.55 W/m2. An ensemble summary of our measurements indicates that an energy flux imbalance of 3.5 W/m2 has been created by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases since 1850. This experimental data should effectively end the argument by skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming.

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