May 26, 1998 transcript #: 235-2
Subject(s): Global cooling
Title: Climate Flip-Flop
Hi, Im Dave Thurlow and this is The Weather Notebook. Yesterday on the show we spoke with Authhor and Scientist William Calvin who explained a theory that says how global warming just might actually lead to global cooling. The theory is based on a potential breakdown of the temperature regulating global ocean currents. The global warming to cooling has occurred throughout history, but it creates real problems when the changes in climate occur in a short amount of time. Mr. Calvin tells us here about what is meant by rapid change.
William: "Certainly the classical greenhouse warming notion thats around is sort of like a dimmer switch on the lights. You can sort of ramp up your light level slowly. The trouble is is there are non-linear mechanisms...theyre more like a standard light switch. You push it a little and nothing happens, you push it harder and finally it pops to a new state."
Mr. Calvin calls this quick change a "Climate Flip-Flop" and its ramifications can be dramatic.
William: "The level to which it cools is not the big problem. Its that it happens so suddenly. Its like taking a landscape and jacking it up a few thousand feet into the air, into a new climatic zone. And the plants are very unhappy and they often die and they are replaced by other plants. But in the meantime, all the animals have a very hard time making a living and our ancestors from the last ice age were exposed to dozens of flips like this. Where all of a sudden they had to find a new way of making a living because their usual way dried up on them."
Scientists are unsure when the next Climate Flip-flop could take place, but some theorize that todays climatic warming might lead to a drastic cooling in the next few centuries. Now, if you have any questions about weather give us a call at 1-888-724-6001 and we'll put your question on the air. Our show is a production of the Mount Washington Observatory, supported by the National Science Foundation and Subaru, the beauty of all-wheel drive.