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Atmospher Sci & Global Chg

November 2016

PNNL's Steven Smith Quoted on Coolant's Hot Topic

Scientists are exact with their numbers. Many others—including some politicians—tend to round. In Kigali recently, political leaders leveraged a 0.5°C potential savings in global warming to adopt policies that will limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) worldwide. Some scientists, although they are in favor of the policy, thought the number was unscientifically ambitious.

Science Magazine turned to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's climate modeling specialist Dr. Steven J. Smith of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, for some insight. Regarding the scientists' work, Smith said. "They've clearly done the best work on this to date."

The work he's referring to comes from a 2013 paper that forecasts how as developing countries use more refrigerating coolant, the HFCs will push global temperatures up 0.35°C to 0.5°C by 2100. These numbers, according to the article, are substantially higher than HFC warming made by other climate models.

Smith also told Science that more sophisticated models that offer a range of possible futures, such as different patterns of economic growth, could improve such estimates.

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