DATA: Global Change Digest

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Science  20 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5491, pp. 403
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5491.403d

Just as the U.S. election news fades next month, expect the global warming debate to heat up as countries meet in The Hague to pin down details of the 1997 Kyoto climate pact. Climate change predictions and discussions of how to respond are based on a wide range of data, from recent stats on methane belched by rice fields to ice core temperature records going back more than 400,000 years.

Offering a good overview of these data is Trends Online, a compendium published by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Here you'll find concise summaries of key climate change data sets, each accompanied by graphs and data tables. For starters, the site is “the single best source” of fossil fuel emissions data for individual countries, says CDIAC's Tom Boden. You can also see the rising levels of carbon dioxide charted at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, since the late 1950s or read about why recent temperature trends are so controversial: At the surface, temperatures are rising, while in the troposphere, weather balloon and satellite data show little or no warming trend. Boden points out that scientists may need to go elsewhere to get data that are more recent or of higher resolution. Still, a “phenomenal” number of people use the site, he says, from middle-school students to climate modelers.

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