Greenhouse hydrology



A new report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes predictions about life in the “greenhouse” future one step farther by analyzing the possible effects a build-up in atmospheric carbon dioxide would have on the hydrologic cycle. While principal authors David Rind and Sergej Lebedeff of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York warn that their computer models are “only the first step in the process of planning for future changes,” they suggest that a greenhouse warming would cause “substantial changes throughout the hydrologic cycle.”

The study focuses specifically on changes in hydrologic conditions such as precipitation, evaporation, soil moisture, and runoff that would accompany a twofold increase in atmospheric CO2. The Goddard model produces an atmospheric warming of 4.1°C for this doubling, which is at the high end of the range predicted by National Academy of Sciences studies (Eos, November 15, 1983, p. 929, and August 17, 1982, p. 609).