Borehole Temperatures and a Baseline for 20th-Century Global Warming Estimates

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Science  14 Mar 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5306, pp. 1618-1621
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5306.1618

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Lack of a 19th-century baseline temperature against which 20th-century warming can be referenced constitutes a deficiency in understanding recent climate change. Combination of borehole temperature profiles, which contain a memory of surface temperature changes in previous centuries, with the meteorological archive of surface air temperatures can provide a 19th-century baseline temperature tied to the current observational record. A test case in Utah, where boreholes are interspersed with meteorological stations belonging to the Historical Climatological Network, yields a noise reduction in estimates of 20th-century warming and a baseline temperature that is 0.6° ± 0.1°C below the 1951 to 1970 mean temperature for the region.

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