Scientists Define The Starting Point For Climate Change Induced By Human Activities

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Every creature around the globe is more or less affected by the problems related to climate change. We all know that humans’ burning of fossil fuels results in global warming and severe climate consequences. But do we all know when our planet’s climate started to change due to human activities? If you do not know, this article may come to your help.

Scientists generally agree that the late nineteenth century was the tipping point for human activity to begin influencing the climate. However, the new research pushes that date back to the 1830s.

Recently, a study was published in Nature. The study was based on a record of sea surface temperature in tropical areas from 1500. The authors indicate that the climate system reacts to greenhouse gases faster than previously thought, with several consequences for apprehending future climate change.

Industrial Era

The authors of the research mentioned above begin by stating that when human beings started to industrialize, they polluted the atmosphere by adding carbon dioxide to the air.

However, determining how much warming we have experienced necessitates comparing current temperatures to those before the world began to feel the consequences of industrialization. Scientists refer to the baseline period as the “pre-industrial period,” whereas the period after that is the “industrial age.”

However, the study emphasizes that defining these words is difficult. According to the study researchers, determining a specific period for the beginning of the industrial age is challenging. It is a part of the argument over the Anthropocene’s formal definition.

Natural Recorders

Thousands of observations from the atmosphere above the sea surface and land, gathered by buoys, ships, and occasionally satellites, make up what we conceive of as the current temperature record.

The researchers of a new study utilize a different temperature record to give us a clear idea of the beginning of human-caused global warming.

Corals and small fossilized marine invertebrates buried on the seafloor serve as natural temperature recorders. These are called “climate proxies,” together with ice cores and tree rings, which provide a window into the temperatures of lands throughout our planet’s history.

By incorporating data from the proxies, the temperature record in the recent study was extended back to 1500 AD. It differs from prior research that used climate proxies because it utilized a whole new tropical ocean temperature reconstruction.

Oceans are crucial for discerning the global climate because they absorb more than 90 percent of the heat reaching the earth’s surface. One cause for periods of slower and faster temperature change over earth’s history is variations in the amount of heat absorbed by the seas.

Time of Emergence

For a particular region, the “time of emergence” of a trend within average temperature data is determined by when the origin of the warming starts, how quickly it occurs, and how much background “noise” obscures the signal.

Natural variations in climate from year to year, for instance, can mean that a trend may not be seen for decades after whatever is causing it starts to have consequences.

According to the instrumental temperature record, the indication of rising temperatures first appeared in the 1950s in the tropical ocean. The current study uses the additional data in the proxy record to go back 120 years to the 1830s to pinpoint the beginning of the warming.

Dr. Ed Hawkins believes it demonstrates that a period of “sustained warming” started in the early 1800s and continues now. According to Carbon Brief, he says that during the twentieth century, most portions of the globe saw this signal of warming rise “above the noise of background variability.” Hawkins thinks that this is another proof that the earth’s climate has dramatically changed from the pre-industrial era.

Hawkins has also written about the “time of emergence.” Instead of looking back in time, he looks forward to identifying when the present natural variability in rainfall and temperature will be developing in several parts of the planet.