Warming Tropics Show Reduced Cloud Cover While Confusing Climate Models

Climate change might be either larger or smaller than the current range of predictions.

Published: 02-Feb-2002

HAMPTON, Virginia, February 1, 2002 (ENS) - Global warming reduced cloud cover over the tropics in the 1990s, researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said Thursday.

More sunlight entered the tropics and more heat escaped to space in the 1990s than in the 1980s, because less cloud cover blocked incoming radiation and trapped outgoing heat, the researchers said after examining 22 years of satellite measurements.

"Since clouds were thought to be the weakest link in predicting future climate change from greenhouse gases, these new results are unsettling," said Dr. Bruce Wielicki of NASA's Langley Research Center. Wielicki is the lead author of the first of two papers about this research appearing in today's issue of the journal "Science."

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