July 07, 2005

I thought we already knew all the answers?

At least that's what some folks want you to believe when it comes to climate change. Some scientists have even suggested that an increase in certain clouds over the Earths' poles could be indication that the process is speeding up.

Or maybe not.

Polar mesospheric clouds - also called noctilucent clouds - form in the summer over the poles at altitudes of about 52 miles (84 kilometers), making them the highest clouds in the Earth's atmosphere. They have been monitored in recent years because they are thought to be sensitive to the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere.

That part is correct.

Researchers using satellite and ground-based instruments tracked the exhaust plume from Columbia's liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 16, 2003. The plume was roughly 650 miles long and two miles wide.

As with all shuttle launches, about 97 percent of this exhaust turns into water - a by-product of the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel. The resulting 400 tons of extra water in the atmosphere has an observable effect on cloud formation.

Stevens and his colleagues observed a significant increase in polar mesospheric clouds over Antarctica in the days following the launch.

Oops, this sounds like one of those "ignore the man behind the curtain" moments. During discussions on the subject, I like to remind folks that Earth has *never* had a stable climate in its history. That always makes 'em stop, but it doesn't always make them think.

Posted by Ted at July 7, 2005 11:33 AM | TrackBack
Category: SciTech

I was under the assumption that we cycle through climate changes constantly and I could make a good argument based on the history of ice-ages.

Posted by: Wolf at July 7, 2005 12:37 PM

Um... 'Round these parts this is, like, the coolest summer I can remember. It's July and 71 degrees during the day. WTF?

Yep. Prolly has to do with the fact that plantlife grabs the carbon out of the air.

Y'see, when the Earth is warm and the atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), forests expand and glaciers recede. The expanding forests leave excess oxygen in the atmosphere and the planet begins to cool. The forests recede and the glaciers expand. This, of course, results in a surplus of unused carbon dioxide which then warms the planet and the glaciers recede and the forests expand. And so on and so on and so on...

Posted by: Tuning Spork at July 7, 2005 10:01 PM
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