The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 4, 2014

Global warming’s evidence in ice record

NORMAN — In light of our recent frigid blast from the polar vortex, it’s especially prudent to see the big climate picture that remains unambiguous: that of global warming.

According to the NASA website, “2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880” and “the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000.”

Even though the continental U.S. had only its 42nd warmest year on record, Australia was baking with its hottest year ever.

The global long-term evidence for climate change has been compiled again in the report available online, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policy Makers,” by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It states, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.” It was written by climate experts, including more than 600 lead and contributing authors and 50 review editors from more than 39 countries.

We invite all to read at least the summary, “Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers.”

Some of the long-term data were provided by measuring greenhouse gases in air bubbles from ancient ice cores. Based on these ice core records, the report concludes, “The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Carbon dioxide concentrations have increased by 40 percent since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and, secondarily, from net land use change emissions.”

These increases in greenhouse gases correlate with increasing global temperatures.

Are temperatures still increasing? Yes — in fact, even more than previously reported. New research published Nov. 12, 2013, by Cowtan and Way (Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society) has shown that over the past 16 years, global surface temperatures have been warming two and a half times faster than the prior estimates, which counters skeptical claims that global warming has “stopped.”

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