|Richard Alley on Earth's Biggest Climate Control Knob |
[EDIT: I'll put the text here, but the real meat is in the links. I haven't watched this particular speech of Alley's yet, will get to it later, but have seen him before, and can vouch for the fact that he is an animated, interesting speaker, and a smart guy who has worked extensively on ice cores and abrupt climate change.]
Scientists aren't known for being the savviest of public speakers, but Penn State's Richard Alley is that rare researcher who knows how to give a talk. Alley -- who's willing to sing, dance, and gesticulate vigorously to get a point across -- gave a lecture about carbon dioxide to an overflow crowd of scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting this year that's well worth watching.
Blogger and University of Toronto computer scientist Steve Easterbrook has an excellent blow-by-blow of the talk, but the heart of it came down to this point, which Alley made on his last slide:
An increasing body of science indicates that CO2 has been the most important controller of Earth's climate.
If you want the details, (and the details are a pleasure to sit through in this case because of Alley's gregarious speaking style) AGU has posted video and slides of the full talk. Still want to know more about carbon dioxide? NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) released new details about the distribution of carbon dioxide in the troposphere, the region of Earth's atmosphere that is located between 5 to 12 kilometers, or 3 to 7 miles, above Earth's surface. (JPL also released a ten question quiz about the gas that you can access here).
Meanwhile, Alley participated in a NASA science update back in 2005 that explored the nature of sea level rise, a topic that NASA researchers continue to investigate and that you can explore interactively using our Sea Level Viewer.
--Adam Voiland, NASA's Earth Science News Team