[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 6-Sep-2011
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Contact: Keith Randall
keith-randall@tamu.edu
979-845-4644
Texas A&M University

Texas A&M prof says study shows that clouds don't cause climate change

COLLEGE STATION, Sept. 6, 2011 -- Clouds only amplify climate change, says a Texas A&M University professor in a study that rebuts recent claims that clouds are actually the root cause of climate change.

Andrew Dessler, a Texas A&M atmospheric sciences professor considered one of the nation's experts on climate variations, says decades of data support the mainstream and long-held view that clouds are primarily acting as a so-called "feedback" that amplifies warming from human activity. His work is published today in the American Geophysical Union's peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Dessler studied El Niño and La Niña cycles over the past 10 years and calculated the Earth's "energy budget" over this time. El Nino and La Nina are cyclical events, roughly every five years, when waters in the central Pacific Ocean tend to get warmer or colder. These changes have a huge impact on much of the world's weather systems for months or even years.

Dessler found that clouds played a very small role in initiating these climate variations — in agreement, he says, with mainstream climate science and in direct opposition to some previous claims.

"The bottom line is that clouds have not replaced humans as the cause of the recent warming the Earth is experiencing," Dessler says.

Texas is currently in one of the worst droughts in the state's history, and most scientists believe it is a direct result of La Niña conditions that have lingered in the Pacific Ocean for many months.

Dessler adds, "Over a century, however, clouds can indeed play an important role amplifying climate change."

"I hope my analysis puts an end to this claim that clouds are causing climate change," he adds.

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For more information about Dessler's research, go to http://goo.gl/zFJmt

About Research at Texas A&M University:

As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $630 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

Contact: Andrew Dessler at (979) 862-1427 or adessler@tamu.edu; or Keith Randall, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4644 or keith-randall@tamu.edu

For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamutimes.tamu.edu.

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