More Global Warming

The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 5 No. 5 • October 2002

More Global Warming:
A Giant Coincidence or What?

There have now been three bodies in the solar system other than Earth that have been reported to be warming: Mars, Triton, and Pluto. On July 20 and then on August 21 of this year, Pluto passed directly between Earth and certain stars in the constellation Ophiuchus, thus allowing scientists to obtain information on Pluto's atmosphere. Researchers Marc W. Buie (Lowell University) and James L. Elliott (MIT) found that, although Pluto is now 3% farther from the sun than it was in 1988 (the last time Pluto occulted a star seen from Earth), the planet's surface is now slightly warmer. Another team at the Observatory of Paris also measured an increase in Pluto's surface temperature. (See "Pluto and the Occult," Science News, Sept. 7, 2002.)

According to B. Buratti of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Triton's light curve has recently increased in amplitude, its spectrum has reddened distinctly more than once, and even its atmospheric pressure has been increasing. A light curve is the variation of a body's apparent brightness with time. [Reported in "Out on the Edge," Nature 418:135 (2002).]

"Using [Mars Global] Surveyor's camera, Malin and his colleagues found that during a full Martian year - about 2 years - the walls of pits in the south polar ice cap receded by about 1 to 3 meters. The cap is mostly frozen carbon dioxide, and the dramatic shrinkage suggests that large amounts of the material have evaporated into the Martian atmosphere." (Quoted from the Jan. 19, 2002 Science News.) Malin et al. (in the Dec. 7, 2001 Science) called the rate and amount of erosion "phenomenal." "In Leighton and Murray's model, a 1% change in the mass of the Martian atmosphere would only require a 0.1% change in the long-term solar reflectance of a residual carbon dioxide deposit." [Paige, "Global Change on Mars?" Science 294:2107-8 (2001).] A paper in that same issue of Science by Shindell et al. presents evidence that "relatively small solar forcing may play a significant role in century-scale NH [northern hemisphere] winter climate change. This suggests that colder winter temperatures over the NH continents during portions of the 15th through the 17th centuries (sometimes called the Little Ice Age) and warmer temperatures during the 12th through 14th centuries . . . may have been influenced by long-term solar variations."

Though we have read speculations (a different one for each body) to account for the surface warming for Mars, Pluto, and Triton, a mechanism that would apply to all three (and a warming Earth as well) would be an increase in the sun's output. Despite the reports on Mars, Pluto, and Triton, there hasn't been a peep from anyone in Science or Nature concerning a possible connection between warming of these bodies and putative Earth warming.

Remember the case of the dog that didn't bark? This may be another one. NASA is being given huge amounts of money to study global warming, yet it hasn’t proposed the obvious project of designing a small, inexpensive satellite to precisely measure solar output over time. Studies of solar variability to date have relied upon data from old satellites not designed for the purpose of reliable multigenerational solar output measurements, and proxy data in, for example, deep-sea sediment cores. [See, for example, Haigh et al., "Climate Variability and the Influence of the Sun," Science 294:2109-11 (2001).] The U.S. pays about $2 billion a year of our money for global warming studies; that can buy a lot of silence.

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