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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate STUDIES IN GEOPHYSICS Energy and Climate Geophysics Study Committee Geophysics Research Board Assembly of Mathematical and Physical Sciences National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Washington, D.C. 1977
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the Councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the Committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by the Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The Geophysics Study Committee is pleased to acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 77-83238 International Standard Book Number 0-309-02636-9 Available from: Printing and Publishing Office National Academy of Sciences 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Printed in the United States of America
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate Geophysics Research Board HERBERT FRIEDMAN, Naval Research Laboratory, Chairman PHILIP H. ABELSON, Carnegie Institution of Washington ARTHUR G. ANDERSON, International Business Machines Corporation THOMAS C. ATCHISON, JR., U.S. Bureau of Mines HUBERT L. BARNES, Pennsylvania State University GEORGE S. BENTON, The Johns Hopkins University D. ALLAN BROMLEY, Yale University BERNARD F. BURKE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology A. G. W. CAMERON, Harvard College Observatory RICHARD K. COOK, National Bureau of Standards THOMAS M. DONAHUE, University of Michigan CHARLES L. DRAKE, Dartmouth College ALFRED G. FISCHER, Princeton University JOHN V. EVANS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology J. FREEMAN GILBERT, University of California, San Diego THOMAS O. HAIG, University of Wisconsin WILLIAM M. KAULA, University of California, Los Angeles WALTER B. LANGBEIN, U.S. Geological Survey, retired THOMAS F. MALONE, Butler University ARTHUR E. MAXWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution GORDON A. NEWKIRK, JR., National Center for Atmospheric Research
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate JOHN S. NISBET, Pennsylvania State University HUGH ODISHAW, University of Arizona JACK E. OLIVER, Cornell University VERNER E. SUOMI, University of Wisconsin FERRIS WEBSTER, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution CHARLES A. WHITTEN, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, retired JAMES H. ZUMBERGE, Southern Methodist University Assembly of Mathematical and Physical Sciences Liaison Representatives PRESTON CLOUD, U.S. Geological Survey; University of California, Santa Barbara JOSEPH W. CHAMBERLAIN, Rice University ROBERT B. LEIGHTON, California Institute of Technology
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate Geophysics Study Committee PHILIP H. ABELSON, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Cochairman THOMAS F. MALONE, Holcomb Research Institute, Cochairman LOUIS J . BATTAN, University of Arizona CHARLES L. DRAKE, Dartmouth College RICHARD M. GOODY, Harvard University FRANCIS S. JOHNSON, University of Texas at Dallas WALTER B. LANGBEIN, U.S. Geological Survey, retired HUGH ODISHAW, University of Arizona NRC Staff PEMBROKE J. HART DONALD C. SHAPERO Liaison Representatives JAMES R. BALSLEY, U.S. Geological Survey EUGENE W. BIERLY, National Science Foundation GEORGE A. KOLSTAD, U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration CARL F. ROMNEY, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency WALTER TELESETSKY, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration FRANCIS L. WILLIAMS, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate Panel on Energy and Climate ROGER R. REVELLE, University of California, San Diego; and Harvard University, Chairman ROBERT B. BACASTOW, University of California, San Diego D. JAMES BAKER, JR., University of Washington CHARLES L. HOSLER, JR., Pennsylvania State University CHARLES D. KEELING, University of California, San Diego HANS H. LANDSBERG, Resources for the Future, Inc. HELMUT E. LANDSBERG, University of Maryland RALPH A. LLEWELLYN, Indiana State University J. MURRAY MITCHELL, JR., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration WALTER H. MUNK, University of California, San Diego HARRY PERRY, Resources for the Future, Inc. GEORGE D. ROBINSON, Center for Environment and Man, Inc. JOSEPH SMAGORINSKY, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Princeton University VERNER E. SUOMI, University of Wisconsin WARREN M. WASHINGTON, National Center for Atmospheric Research
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate Foreword It has become increasingly apparent in recent years that human capacity to perturb inadvertently the global environment has outstripped our ability to anticipate the nature and extent of the impact. It is time to redress that imbalance. The world’s climate could be perturbed in a number of ways, for example, through excessive destruction of forests and grasslands, thermonuclear war, and through our procedures for satisfying energy demands. Examination of the possible long-term effects of energy use is particularly timely. With the end of the oil age in sight, we must make long-term decisions as to future energy policies. One lesson we have been learning is that the time required for transition from one major source to another is several decades. We cannot make major mistakes and expect to rectify them quickly. Thus it is important to examine carefully the potential long-term effects of our energy policies. This report is concerned with the technical considerations that suggest possible impact on the climate of a growing world population and an increasing per capita use of energy. It is intended as a preliminary step in a process, which will require a number of years to complete, aimed at placing in the hands of policymakers credible information on the most likely climatic consequences of major dependence on fossil fuels as a source of energy for an increasingly industrialized society. Even at this early and still somewhat uncertain stage, the implications warrant prompt attention. The consequences of using fossil fuels as a principal source of energy over the
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate next few centuries comprise part of a family of assessments that should be made to consider the environmental impact of the most attractive alternative sources of energy. Potential difficulties per se in the use of fossil fuels as a principal source of energy should not be used as an argument for turning to any specific alternative source. Policy decisions with respect to the most desirable source of energy should be based on satisfactory information on the long-term environmental impact of each source and the impact of several combinations of energy sources. The results of the present study should lead neither to panic nor to complacency. They should, however, engender a lively sense of urgency in getting on with the work of illuminating the issues that have been identified and resolving the scientific uncertainties that remain. Because the time horizon for both consequences and action extends well beyond usual boundaries, it is timely that attention be directed to research needs and to the anticipation of possible societal decision making now. The principal conclusion of this study is that the primary limiting factor on energy production from fossil fuels over the next few centuries may turn out to be the climatic effects of the release of carbon dioxide. This conclusion follows from: estimates of energy consumption and probable sources of energy, which, in view of the fact that they reach a century or more into the future, should be treated as a possible scenario rather than as a firm projection; a comparative analysis of the likely effects of the release of actual heat and particulates, both globally and locally; an examination of several models for the partitioning of carbon dioxide among the oceans, the atmosphere, and the biosphere; a review of the models that transform increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into an associated rise in global temperatures. A number of comments are in order on each of the considerations that support this principal conclusion. First, it seems unlikely that the scenario for energy consumption would actually be realized. World population growth might be curbed. Countries such as the Soviet Union that possess much of the world’s coal reserves may be unwilling to serve as energy sources for others. An aroused world society might refuse to accept a drastic and unsatisfactory climatic change. To provide insurance that such a change will be averted will require a carefully planned international program and a fine sense of timing on the part of decision makers. Second, it should be clear that local climatic effects of energy parks, of the release of particulates, and of sensible heat cannot be ignored, but they are of lesser urgency than the matter of carbon dioxide impact. It will be noted that there are differences in the quantitative results of models developed by Revelle and Munk, by Keeling and Bacastow, and by others for partitioning carbon dioxide among the atmosphere, the oceans, and the biosphere. What is important is not that there are differences but that the span of agreement embraces a fourfold to eightfold increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the latter part of the twenty-second century. Our best understanding of the relation between an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and change in global temperature suggests a corresponding increase in average world temperature of more than 6°C, with polar temperature increases of as much as three times this figure. This would exceed by far the temperature fluctuations of the past several thousand years and would very likely, along the way, have a highly significant impact on global precipitation. Finally, it must be recognized that estimates obtained from recently developed ocean-atmosphere models of the relationship between increased atmospheric carbon
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate dioxide and average temperature, humidity, precipitation, and other climatic variables are at an early stage and are just as likely to be too low as to be too high. To reduce uncertainties and to assess the seriousness of the matter, a well-coordinated program of research that is profoundly interdisciplinary in character, and strongly international in scope, will be required. This research, much of which is outlined in the present report, should extend beyond scientific and technical considerations to include the complex factors and institutional innovations that will enable the nations of the world to act with wisdom and in concert before irreversible changes in climate are initiated. If the preliminary estimates of climate change in the latter part of the twenty-second century are validated, a reassessment of global energy policy must be started promptly because, long before that destined date, there will have been major climatic impacts all over the world. One final thought. This report has been addressed to what might be the climatic impact over the next century or two of a major dependence on fossil fuels. In the light of a rapidly expanding knowledge and interest in natural climatic change, perhaps the question that should be addressed soon is, “What should the atmospheric carbon dioxide content be over the next century or two to achieve an optimum global climate?” Sooner or later, we are likely to be confronted by that issue. Philip H. Abelson Thomas F. Malone Cochairmen Geophysics Study Committee
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate Preface Early in 1974, the Geophysics Research Board completed a plan, subsequently approved by the Committee on Science and Public Policy of the National Academy of Sciences, for a series of studies to be carried out on various subjects related to geophysics. The Geophysics Study Committee was established to provide guidance in the conduct of the studies. One purpose of the studies is to provide assessments from the scientific community to aid policymakers in decisions on societal problems that involve geophysics. An important part of such an assessment is an evaluation of the adequacy of present geophysical knowledge and the appropriateness of present research programs to provide information required for those decisions. When appropriate, the implications of this evaluation for research strategy may be set forth. Some of the studies place more emphasis on assessing the present status of a field of geophysics and identifying the most promising directions for future research. Topics of studies for which reports are currently in preparation include geophysical predictions and the impact of technology on geophysics. Topics of recently published studies include upper-atmosphere geophysics, water and climate, and geophysics of estuaries. Each study is developed through meetings of the panel of authors and presentation of papers at a suitable public forum that provides an opportunity for discussion. In completing final drafts of their papers, the authors have the benefit of this discussion as well as the comments of selected scientific referees. Responsibility for the individual essays rests with the corresponding authors.
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate Most of the essays in this volume were presented in preliminary form in a symposium at an American Geophysical Union meeting that took place in San Francisco in December 1974. They treat the question of possible constraints placed on energy use by the danger of climatic change. The introductory chapter provides an overview of the study, summarizing the highlights of the essays and formulating conclusions and recommendations. In preparing it, the Chairman of the panel had the benefit of meetings and discussions that took place at the symposium and the comments of the panel of authors and selected referees. Responsibility for its content rests with the Geophysics Study Committee and the Chairman of the panel.
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate Contents OVERVIEW AND RECOMMENDATIONS 1 I. THE CONTEXT 33 1. Projected World Energy Consumption Harry Perry and Hans H. Landsberg 35 2. The Changing Climate J. Murray Mitchell, Jr. 51 II. EFFLUENTS OF ENERGY PRODUCTION 59 3. Effluents of Energy Production: Particulates George D. Robinson 61 4. Impact of Industrial Gases on Climate Charles D. Keeling and Robert B. Bacastow 72 5. The Effect of Localized Man-Made Heat and Moisture Sources in Mesoscale Weather Modification Charles L. Hosler and Helmut E. Landsberg 96
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate 6. Regional and Global Aspects Ralph A. Llewellyn and Warren M. Washington 106 III. MONITORING AND MODELING 119 7. Ocean Dynamics and Energy Transfer: Some Examples of Climatic Effects D. James Baker, Jr. 121 8. The Need for Climate Monitoring Verner E. Suomi 128 9. Modeling and Predictability Joseph Smagorinsky 133 10. The Carbon Dioxide Cycle and the Biosphere Roger Revelle and Walter Munk 140
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Studies in Geophysics: Energy and Climate Energy and Climate
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