Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

28 August 1981, Volume 213, Number 4511

J. Hansen, D. Johnson, A. Lacis, S. Lebedeff, P. Lee, D. Rind, G. Russell

The global temperature rose by 0.20C between the middle 1960’s and
1980, yielding a warming of 0.4°C in the past century. This temperature increase is
consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect due to measured increases of
atmospheric carbon dioxide. Variations of volcanic aerosols and possibly solar
luminosity appear to be primary causes of observed fluctuations about the mean trend
of increasing temperature. It is shown that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide warming
should emerge from the noise level of natural climate variability by the end of the
century, and there is a high probability of warming in the 1980’s. Potential effects on
climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North
America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climatic zones, erosion of the West
Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the
fabled Northwest Passage.

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