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NOAA composite image of the Earth with orbiting satellite.May 28, 2004 — There has been a great deal of attention given to the important topic of global climate change recently. This, however, is not a new topic for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA is leading the path in gaining a better understanding of how our planet is changing, how quickly it is happening and what this will mean for its inhabitants.

How is the Earth’s climate changing? The short answer is that no one is certain. We are certain, however, that climate change cannot happen in days or even years. With every day and every new data point, NOAA researchers come closer to revealing answers to this central question and many others.

“NOAA employees are working tirelessly to ensure our nation and the world has the best information available to deal with the issue of climate change,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The NOAA paleoclimatology program—which studies past climates—has found that climate has, in the past, changed quickly. It can occur in a matter of decades rather than centuries or millennia.”

Given the potential social and economic impacts of changing climate, there is a pressing need to increase knowledge of the mechanics of global, as well as regional, climate change, and develop the ability to predict abrupt and gradual climate change events. Even gradual changes will affect resource distribution and even how and where people live.

NOAA investments in high speed computers, improved climate modeling and extensive Earth observation systems enable its scientists and forecasters to gather and synthesize information so that the public can be better informed and prepared for climate events, whether it be a seasonal shift such as El Niño/La Niña or a potential long term trend,” said Lautenbacher.

NOAA Paleoclimatology provides the data and information needed to understand the climate of the past, to assess the current and potential future climate in the context of natural climate variability. Located within the NOAA Climatic Data Center, the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology, in Boulder, Colo., is the central source of paleoclimatic data for researchers around the globe.

NOAA scientists and researchers from other organizations have conducted extensive studies of the climate of the past including instances of abrupt climate change. For more information on these studies and abrupt climate change, visit the NOAA Paleoclimatology Web site and the National Academy of Sciences.

“We are proud of NOAA’s leadership in providing the nation with world-class science on climate change and will continue to work each and every day to better understand the Earth’s climate system,” said Lautenbacher.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Abrupt Climate Change

NOAA Paleoclimatology Program

NOAA Climate Page

Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises — The National Academies

Climate Change Science Program Communications Program: Information on Abrupt Climate Change

Media Contact:
Kent Laborde, NOAA, (202) 482-5757