Thursday, July 29, 2010

Research says climate change undeniable

by Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent

Published: July 28 2010

Current changes to the climate are “undeniable” and show clear signs of “human fingerprints”, researchers have claimed in the first major new piece of scientific research since the “climategate” scandals.
Each of the different indicators used pointed to a world that was warming owing to the influence of greenhouse gases, said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK’s Met Office, one of the particpants in collating the data.

The research, led by the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, is the first to gather together the relevant data in such a way and takes scientists much further than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changereport of more than three years ago, by adding in new data not available then.

Relying on data from multiple sources, each indicator proved consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere.

These are all consistent with what scientists and the computer models they use to predict future climate have predicted that man-made global warming would produce.

“The temperature increase of 0.56° C (1° F) over the past 50 years may seem small, but it has already altered our planet,” said Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of NOAA. “Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying, and heat waves are more common.”

One of the more surprising results of the study is that more than 90 per cent of warming in the past 50 years has gone into the world’s oceans. This is the equivalent of constantly pouring as much energy into the oceans as would be needed to keep 500 100W lightbulbs burning for each of the 6.7bn people on the planet.