3 November 2008
Human influence on our climate is now apparent on every continent, including Antarctica, concludes a new study published on 30 October in Nature Geosciences.
The work also includes a first-ever detection and attribution study of the climate of the Arctic, confirming rapid warming in this region; something scientists have long expected to see.
In delivering its 'Fourth Assessment Report' in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that the human fingerprint could be detected in averaged temperature rise over each continent, except Antarctica. However, a new study of almost 60 years of temperature records by an international collaboration of scientists, including the Met Office Hadley Centre, says this is no longer the case, concluding that Antarctica has warmed as a result of human influence.
The group, led by Nathan Gillett then of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, also performed the world's first detection and attribution study in the Arctic. Here the rapid warming caused by positive feedbacks within the climate system, while dramatic, is entirely consistent with computer simulations of the climate.
Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office said: "In both polar regions the observed warming can only be reproduced in our models by including human influences - natural forcings alone are not enough".
Commenting further on the results Stott continues: "For a long time climate scientists have known that Arctic areas would be expected to warm most strongly because of feedback mechanisms, but the results from this work demonstrate the part man has already played in the significant warming that we've observed in both polar regions".
Notes to editors: