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AGU session marks 30th anniversary of report on climate change projections

December 11th, 2009

In 1979, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report estimating that global average temperatures would increase between 2 and 3.5 degrees Celsius by the middle of the 21st century if carbon dioxide concentrations were to double. This report, Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment, became known as the "Charney report" after the report committee's chair. Its scientific influence will be discussed at a session of the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Participants, including original committee members who wrote the report, will talk about the robustness of the report's findings and conclusions over the past three decades, and some key questions and issues still being studied today.

The session will include presentations on the progress of climate science and ongoing research on climate change projections, as well as highlight still-relevant climate challenges, such as climate sensitivity, understanding of the physical mechanisms and feedback in the climate system, and remaining uncertainties in projection of future climate states.

One of the first climate change assessments designed for policymakers, the Charney report found that regional shifts in climate would be significant, particularly in high latitudes where warming would exceed the global average. The report also found that the deep oceans' capacity to absorb heat had been underestimated, and that the rates of circulation between the upper oceans and the cold deeper oceans would slow the rate of warming.

Source: National Academy of Sciences

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