We Could Have Discovered Climate Change As Early As The 1940s If We Had Just Looked

We Could Have Discovered Climate Change As Early As the 1940s if We Had Just Looked

The signs of global warming are hitting us over the head today — if you'll remember, the fire and drought-ridden summer of 2015 was the also hottest in recorded history — but how long has our planet actually been feeling the heat? In parts of the tropics, anthropogenic climate change has been tinkering with the thermometer since the 1940s.

That's the surprising conclusion of a new modelling study published today in Environmental Research Letters. Running 23 global climate simulations that combine historical trends (beginning in 1860) with future emissions scenarios, researchers at the University of South Wales estimated when the very first fingerprints of climate warming — extreme temperatures and shifts in the mean annual temperature — would have become measurable across the world, had we been paying any attention. Near the equator, the writing was on the wall decades before the concept of anthropogenic climate change had been realised.

"Remarkably our research shows that you could already see clear signs of global warming in the tropics by the 1960s but in parts of Australia, South East Asia and Africa it was visible as early as the 1940s," said lead study author Andrew King in a statement. (That's decades before the the fore-thinking researchers at Exxon discovered global warming!)

Climate change is hitting high latitude ecosystems the hardest — the Arctic, for instance, is warming twice as fast as the world at large. For that reason — and the fact that most big research universities are located in countries with seasons — what's happening in the tropics has been largely ignored. But as the new study shows, tropical ecosystems may offer an even better long-term thermometer. Lacking a distinct summer and winter, the tropics have a much narrower distribution of temperatures year-round, which makes it easier, statistically speaking, to spot small deviations and outliers years.

We Could Have Discovered Climate Change As Early As the 1940s if We Had Just Looked

Modelled time period at which climate change became or will become detectable in a variety of indicators, including (a) and (b) mean surface air temperature, (c) and (d) highest daily maximum temperature, (e) and (f) lowest daily minimum temperature, (g) and (h) total precipitation, and (i), (j) maximum 1-d precipitation. Image Credit: University of New South Wales

And while the tropics are experiencing smaller levels of warming than, say, boreal forests, climate change stands to wreak even more ecological havoc around the equator. Remember, tropical flora and fauna are adapted to a pretty narrow range of (already high) temperatures. What happens when you take the hottest forests in the world and crank up the heat even more? We're not sure yet — scientists are currently building the first tropical climate warming experiments are currently to address that very question.

But given that tropical forests sequester more carbon than temperate and boreal forests combined, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest this is one global experiment we'd be wise to halt.

[Read the full scientific paper at Environmental Research Letters]


Top image: Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, via Wikimedia

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Comments

    I actually figured it out when I compared today's temperature compared to ice age.

    Ok. Time to end the experiment, NOW, pack it all up and we will all traipse back to whence we came. Um yeh....

    All those tropical people burning stuff, altering climate, and so-long ago, who would have thought. Greenlanders burning whale blubber and polar bears is probably just as bad.

    I think that humanity as a whole simply isn't carbon negative enough. Gotta Get rid of the lot of them and it will be problem solved, wooly mammoths and thylacines will be able to live in peace and harmony with friendly ornithorhyncus.

    Last edited 23/09/15 7:08 pm

    This is complete nonsense.

    The temperature record in fact clearly shows that there was a spike in warming in the 1930's followed by steady cooling from around 1940 until around 1975.

    From 1975 to 1998 we had a slight warming period and since 1998 the trend has remained flat. This is known as "the pause" or "the hiatus" among climate alarmists.

    The temperature record in fact shows that the warming began in the mid 1800's as the planet came out of The Little Ice Age, long before a finger could be pointed toward CO2.

    The warming since the mid 1800's to today has been less than 1 degree Celcius. Not quite something to be alarmed about.

    If we look at the Holocene period as a whole we can see that from the Holocene Climatic Maximum around six thousand years ago there has been a steady decline in global temperatures, punctuated by both warm and cool periods. These are as regular as clockwork, including this current upward spike coming out of The Little Ice Age.

    The trend continues downward, not upward and will eventually lead to the next Ice Age. Each warm period in this progression (Minoan Warm Period, The Roman Climate Optimum, Medieval Warm Period, Current Warm Period) has in fact been cooler than the previous.

    The global mean temperature for planet earth in the Phanerozoic period is actually 19.5 degrees Celcius: a full three degrees higher than the present mean.

    The evidence at this point in time is that warming has in fact stopped. We hear all kinds of speculation, the most popular being that the "missing heat" is hiding in the deep dark oceans, ready to spring up and fry us at any time soon, however there is zero evidence for this - it has not been measured, even with 3000 Argo Buoys now out there.

    The temperature record in fact shows that the warming began in the mid 1800's as the planet came out of The Little Ice Age, long before a finger could be pointed toward CO2.

    Can you supply a source to that actual data, cause its different to the data Ive been looking up. When you make claims like this even in a forum post, you look like a flip and plain DUMB unless you give sources, thats what scientists have to do unfortunately...prove shit!

    Also, may I ask, do you have any experience in chemistry? You know, its that weird thing that explains what happens when you cover a planet in a blanket of c02...using scientific techniques that gave you the antibiotics you took last year to clear up that little infection...

    Last edited 24/09/15 3:20 pm

      Can you supply a source to that actual data

      What data? There is no reference to data in my post, however any fool can look up "The Little Ice Age". Any fool can easily look up global temperatures and indeed find that things were cooler in the mid 1800's than they are today (http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/present_halting.pdf - published in the journal Climate).

      Are you in fact a "climate denier" and deny The Little Ice Age and the other periods I refer to?

      Let me give you examples: During The Medieval Warm Period the Vikings settled Greenland. They abandoned it with the onset of The Little Ice Age. We can still find their artifacts in what is now permafrost. During The Little Ice Age the Thames in London froze. During The Roman Warm Period The Romans grew grapes in Northern England. Look it up.

      its different to the data Ive been looking up

      What data? When you make claims like this even in a forum post, you look like a flip and plain DUMB unless you give sources. Perhaps you can show us references which show there was no Little Ice Age and that the warming did not indeed begin in the mid 1800's? No climate scientist would deny these well known facts, only "climate deniers".

      You know, its that weird thing that explains what happens when you cover a planet in a blanket of c02

      Cover a planet in a "blanket"?? Are you aware that the current atmospheric concentration of CO2 is around 400 parts per million? Perhaps you can wrap your mind around 0.04% of the atmosphere? Hardly a "blanket".

      Do you know what happened to the climate when the atmospheric CO2 level was around 6000ppm? How was the climate then? Did the planet fry?

      Are you able to demonstrate a scientific experiment which shows this "blanket" effect?

      Are you aware that The Anthropogenic Global Warming Due to CO2 Hypothesis is totally reliant on "feedback" to have any substance, the most important of these being increased atmospheric water vapor, which in reality has in fact declined, not risen? (http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100128_watervapor.html) Are you aware that "the tropospheric hot spot" predicted by this hypothesis (and crucial to it) does not exist? (Po-Chedley S. and Fu Q. (2012) Discrepancies in tropical upper tropospheric warming between atmospheric circulation models and satellites, Environ. Res. Lett. 7 044018)

      Since 1998 (when "the pause" began) 25% of the TOTAL of human CO2 emissions since the beginning of The Industrial Revolution have occurred. ONE QUARTER. But what do we find? We find a flat temperature trend since 1998, decreased water vapor and a missing "hot spot". Where is this mythical "blanket" effect? Why are temperatures no longer rising? Could it possibly be that there are many other factors at work (eg. the Sun, Planetary influences, cosmic rays etc.) that have far more influence on climate? I think so.

      When we think about the warming and cooling of this planet we cannot just look at today. We must also look at what happened during the Holocene Climatic Optimum, The Minoan Warm Period, The Roman Climate Optimum and The Medieval Warm Period. What caused THESE warm periods (all warmer than today)? It certainly wasn't CO2, so what was it? What caused the cooling periods in between? Perhaps when you can answer those questions you may have some basic ground work to talk about what may have happened this past century.

      Are you aware that we recently reached a solar maximum which is now in decline? It was the weakest one in 100 years and the next is expected to be even weaker. What do you think might just happen?

        I ask for actual scientific data for proper reference, and you send me a link to an article written by Bob Ferguson. A guy who runs an anti global warming site funded by Exxon?
        You're obviously a denier, you're also obviously not a scientist, you basically just cherry pick articles from the internet, something my 8 year old could do if tasked to find out if warming is man made or natural. Pick your sources and scientists based on your beliefs, its easy.

        400 parts per million? yep thats what I got when I checked NASAs site. However you forgot to mention that for the last few hundred thousand years its never been above 300, that only happened in the last 70 years or so. Hardly a blanket? lol well that depends on your dictionary and mine, seriously its just a term. If carbon rises this only helps positive feedback in relation to water vapour, fact. Will it happen, I have no idea, and neither do you, but Im gonna look like a moron in 100 years if it was right and I did nothing to prevent it now.
        [http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/]
        [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere]

        Water vapour isn't the problem, its simply a function of temperature, which is rising. (you said this yourself, although, from your scientific analysis I shouldn't be concerned about it lol) The hot spot isn't a greenhouse "warning" and finding one doesn't prove we are causing warming. Why bother mentioning it? It cant prove anything towards your goal of denying man made climate change.
        [https://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas-intermediate.htm]
        [https://www.skepticalscience.com/tropospheric-hot-spot.htm]

        Lets rebuttal your claims of past temperature rises shall we...
        "Holocene Climatic Optimum" Temps taken only in the northern hemisphere and only during summer...wow thats accurate!
        [http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/holocene.html]
        "The Medieval Warm Period" Still hotter today....
        [http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/medieval.html]
        [http://globalwarmingart.com/wiki/File:Holocene_Temperature_Variations_Rev_png]

        Because of how 'poor" the data is thats used to construct all these periods, as in 300 year gaps! its pretty pathetic to use as an argument for "normal" cycles. Its hardly scientific, and hardly accurate.

        So what has this all proved...I can use google as good as you.

        Im glad to see Ive turn't you into a better scientist though, kudos on including some links this time to back up your "opinions". No one cares about your rants, unless you can back up your claims. In a hundred years or so, one of us will be proven right, and I hope its you. In the end, we will only destroy our own ability to survive on earth, she will keep spinning along without us.

        Last edited 25/09/15 3:56 pm

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