16 March 2010

Which climate changes can be blamed on humans?

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The conclusions of the last IPCC report were unequivocal: it said, with 90% certainty, that greenhouse gases released by human activity were warming the planet

That was then and this is now, and since the IPCC's report came out in 2007 climate science has come under some criticism - rather a lot of it in fact. So it's no surprise that when new papers confirm the IPCC's conclusions, climate scientists are not shy about advertising them.

The latest example of such a paper, in press in WIREs Climate Change, reviews a number of studies that have been done since 2007. It finds that there are definite human influences on a host of aspects of the climate, all of them driven by the rising temperatures.

All the papers that Peter Stott of the UK Met Office and colleagues reviewed attempted to find a human "fingerprint" on the climate. They focus on data that has been collected over the last century. They calculate the relative influence that different factors - including natural variations like changes in the Earth's orbit, and human-made influences like carbon dioxide emissions - have on the changing climate.


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