A big report on climate change (IPCC AR5) came out recently and our Green Ninja Science Team has been poring over the details.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some of the more interesting results from the most detailed and peer-reviewed assessment of our climate system ever.  So let’s get started!

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) has completed their Scientific Assessment report and it is full of new findings and figures.  Chief among those was a new statement that goes something like this:

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”

Although this may not seem such a big deal, for a scientific organization like the IPCC, it’s like someone screaming at the top of her lungs – we’ve found it, we’ve found it!!  So what are they yelling about?  They are now sure that humans are causing our recent climate to change – period.

Of course there is more to the story, but this conclusion is firm.

Ok, and now on to a pretty picture!

surface temperature

This Figure SPM.1 (from the Summary for Policymakers) shows how temperatures have changed on Earth over the last 150 years.  In the top plot, the annual average temperature is shown from a couple of different observation networks.  A couple of points do jump out.  First, the temperatures bounce around a lot from year to year – a bit like a pinball machine bouncing around.  However, we can also see that there were two strong warming periods – one from about 1910 to 1940 and the other from about 1970 to about now.  The second part of the figure, we see the same data now grouped by 10-year averages that filter out all the wiggles.  Now the warming periods are even clearer.

Let’s look at another picture!

change in surface temp

The second plot (Figure B) looks at how much temperatures have changed over the last 110 years at different points on the Earth.  As you can see, most places are between 0.5 and 1.5 degrees C warmer today compared to 1900.  Although that may seem a small number, it’s actually quite noticeable if we stop and notice.  So for sure the planet is warmer.

If you have any questions, send them along and our Science Team will do our best to answer them.

Please tune in next time and we’ll look at another aspect of the new IPCC report!

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