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NEW YORK - Climate scientists armed with new data from deep in the ocean and far into space have found that Earth is absorbing much more heat than it is giving off, a conclusion they say validates projections of global warming.
Lead scientist James Hansen, a prominent NASA climatologist, described the findings on the planet's out-of-balance energy exchange as a "smoking gun" that should dispel doubts about forecasts of climate change. A European climate expert called it a valuable contribution to climate research.
Hansen's team, reporting Thursday in the journal Science, said they also determined that global temperatures will rise 1 degree Fahrenheit this century even if greenhouse gases are capped tomorrow.
If carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions instead continue to grow, as expected, things could spin "out of our control," especially as ocean levels rise from melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the researchers said. International experts predict a 10-degree leap in Fahrenheit readings in such a worst-case scenario.
"There can no longer be genuine doubt that human-made gases are the dominant cause of observed warming," said Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University's Earth Institute. "This energy imbalance is the `smoking gun' that we have been looking for."