9 December 2009

Earth warming over past 150 years

Agence France-Presse
Data from hundreds of monitoring stations around the world, released in Britain, show that global surface temperature have risen significantly over the past 150 years.

LONDON: Data from hundreds of monitoring stations around the world, released in Britain, show that global surface temperature have risen significantly over the past 150 years.

The statistics are being made public as countries from around the world are locked in United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen which could lead to a new deal to cut emissions blamed for global warming to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Perhaps the most striking finding is that the rise in global surface temperature has averaged more than 0.15 degrees Celsius per decade since the middle of the 1970s.

Britain’s Met Office (or meteorological office) released millions of records from over 1,500 of 5,000 stations worldwide which monitor land surface temperatures.

The records, which it has only just received permission to release, date back to 1850 and the Met Office eventually hopes to publish all 5,000.

“Global average temperature has increased over the past century and this warming has been particularly rapid since the 1970s,” said the Met Office climate scientist Peter Stott, commenting on the findings.

The data is a subset of the so-called HadCRUT record which is used by top U.N. body, the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC).

The Met Office works alongside two centres in the U.S. to calculate monthly global temperature averages – the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is part of the U.S. space agency NASA, and National Climatic Data Centre, part of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It also collaborates with the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at Britain’s University of East Anglia, recently embroiled in a controversy after 13 years’ worth of emails and records were hacked into, and selections of them made public on sites hostile to the climate change consensus among scientists.

The head of the CRU, Phil Jones, has stood aside while an investigation is being conducted. Some of the emails paint a sporadic picture of CRU and other scientists papering over uncertainties to better conform with data elsewhere that shows large-scale warming.

In one private email, Jones referred to a ‘trick’ being employed to massage temperature statistics to “hide the decline”. The academic said they had been taken out of context.

As the Met Office released its information, the head of the World Meteorological Organisation, Michel Jarraud, said in Copenhagen that the first decade of the 21st century is set to be the warmest on record.

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