Attribution of polar warming to human influence

Nathan P. Gillett, Dáithí A. Stone, Peter A. Stott, Toru Nozawa, Alexey Yu Karpechko, Gabriele C. Hegerl, Michael F. Wehner, Philip D. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

146 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The polar regions have long been expected to warm strongly as a result of anthropogenic climate change, because of the positive feedbacks associated with melting ice and snow. Several studies have noted a rise in Arctic temperatures over recent decades, but have not formally attributed the changes to human influence, owing to sparse observations and large natural variability. Both warming and cooling trends have been observed in Antarctica, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report concludes is the only continent where anthropogenic temperature changes have not been detected so far, possibly as a result of insufficient observational coverage. Here we use an up-to-date gridded data set of land surface temperatures and simulations from four coupled climate models to assess the causes of the observed polar temperature changes. We find that the observed changes in Arctic and Antarctic temperatures are not consistent with internal climate variability or natural climate drivers alone, and are directly attributable to human influence. Our results demonstrate that human activities have already caused significant warming in both polar regions, with likely impacts on polar biology, indigenous communities, ice-sheet mass balance and global sea level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-754
Number of pages5
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume1
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

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warming
polar region
temperature
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
climate
ice sheet
land surface
mass balance
climate modeling
surface temperature
human activity
snow
melting
sea level
cooling
ice
climate change
simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Gillett, N. P., Stone, D. A., Stott, P. A., Nozawa, T., Karpechko, A. Y., Hegerl, G. C., ... Jones, P. D. (2008). Attribution of polar warming to human influence. Nature Geoscience, 1(11), 750-754. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo338

Attribution of polar warming to human influence. / Gillett, Nathan P.; Stone, Dáithí A.; Stott, Peter A.; Nozawa, Toru; Karpechko, Alexey Yu; Hegerl, Gabriele C.; Wehner, Michael F.; Jones, Philip D.

In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 1, No. 11, 11.2008, p. 750-754.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gillett, NP, Stone, DA, Stott, PA, Nozawa, T, Karpechko, AY, Hegerl, GC, Wehner, MF & Jones, PD 2008, 'Attribution of polar warming to human influence', Nature Geoscience, vol. 1, no. 11, pp. 750-754. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo338
Gillett NP, Stone DA, Stott PA, Nozawa T, Karpechko AY, Hegerl GC et al. Attribution of polar warming to human influence. Nature Geoscience. 2008 Nov;1(11):750-754. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo338
Gillett, Nathan P. ; Stone, Dáithí A. ; Stott, Peter A. ; Nozawa, Toru ; Karpechko, Alexey Yu ; Hegerl, Gabriele C. ; Wehner, Michael F. ; Jones, Philip D. / Attribution of polar warming to human influence. In: Nature Geoscience. 2008 ; Vol. 1, No. 11. pp. 750-754.
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