A major new report issued by the National Research Council of the National Academies on January 12 concludes that global warming is "'undoubtedly real,' and that surface temperatures in the past two decades have risen at a rate substantially greater than average for the past 100 years." In particular, the report examines the apparent conflict between surface temperature and upper-air temperature. The former has risen about 0.4 to 0.8 degrees Celsius, or 0.7 to 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, in the last century, while no appreciable warming has been detected in the "atmospheric layer extending up to about 5 miles from the Earth's surface." The report offers a number of explanations for this discrepancy, including long-term (over 100 years) measurements of the surface temperature compared to short-term (about 20 year) data collection from the upper atmosphere, and uncertainties in temperature measurements. While this new report will certainly bolster global warming prevention advocates, it is highly unlikely to settle the debate once and for all.
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