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Snapshots from the Meeting

Science  23 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5756, pp. 1899b
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5756.1899b

Double whammy. Folklore has it that “earthquake weather” in California is sultry, but in Taiwan it really is blustery, according to seismologists Selwyn Sacks and Alan Linde of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. While they were monitoring the strain within boreholes in eastern Taiwan during the second half of 2004, nine typhoons passed over, they reported. During five of them, so-called slow earthquakes swept unfelt across the deep, inclined fault below. Sacks and Linde reason that the low atmospheric pressure at the heart of typhoons can relieve some of the pressure squeezing the fault and keeping it from slipping. Under the reduced pressure, the fault slips, helping rapidly push up Taiwan's coastal mountains several centimeters per year.

Not so hot. Earlier this year, some climate researchers warned that the climate system could be so sensitive to rising greenhouse gases that the next century would see truly scorching heat (Science, 28 January, p. 497). At the meeting, climate modeler Reto Knutti of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and colleagues reported that such extreme warming is “very unlikely.” In simulations with extremely high sensitivities, they found unrealistically large temperature swings between winter and summer region by region. The best agreement with the seasonal cycle came at climate sensitivities that would warm the world by 3°C to 3.5°C when carbon dioxide doubles, the sort of moderately large sensitivity many researchers had been coming to favor.

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