Steve Connor: A clear picture of accelerated warming that shows no sign of levelling off

Share
Related Topics

The latest and most comprehensive analysis of the global climate shows that every indicator of climate change points to the fact that global warming is for real and that it has not "stopped" as some sceptics have suggested.

It has also found that something like 93 per cent of the extra heat has been taken up by the oceans, so it is hardly surprising that this additional warming may be having a detrimental impact on the microscopic plant life that forms the base of the marine food chain.

The 2009 State of the Climate report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) brings together for the first time nearly 50 independent records of global trends covering 10 aspects of climate change, from temperature rises over land and sea and increases in ocean heat content and sea level to decreases in snow cover, the size of glaciers and the area covered by Arctic sea ice.

When compiled in one report, the clear and unambiguous picture that emerges is one of a world experiencing a consistent warming which appears to have accelerated since the middle of the 20th century with no signs of it levelling off as a result of the much-trumpeted "global cooling" promulgated by some sceptics.

The amount of heat now entering the oceans as a result of global warming is estimated to be equivalent to the energy of 500 electric lightbulbs, each of 100 watts, for every one of the 6.7 billion people living in the world today. "The point is, it's a heck of a lot of heat," said Peter Stott, one of the Met Office's scientists who contributed to the NOAA report.

"When we follow decade-to-decade trends using different data sets and independent analyses from around the world, we see clear and unmistakable signs of a warming world," he added.

Much of the heat is accumulating in the surface layers of the oceans, where the phytoplankton live, but some of it is now being detected in the lower depths, some 6,000 feet below the surface. One direct effect of this additional heat is that sea levels are rising due to the thermal expansion of water – one of the 10 indicators of climate change highlighted in the report.

Global average temperatures have increased by 0.56C over the past 50 years and, although apparently small, this rise has already altered the planet, according to Jane Lubchenco, a marine scientist and head of the NOAA.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA Manual Tester - Agile

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Bursar/Business Manager

£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Experienced bursar or business...

Secondary School Teachers in Ipswich

Competitive & Flexible: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are l...

Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Qualified and/or experienced te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Scottish polls, the clown who saved Iceland and all about oil

John Rentoul
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories