PerspectiveClimate Change

The Causes of 20th Century Warming

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Science  15 Dec 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5499, pp. 2081-2083
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5499.2081

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Global air surface temperatures increased by about 0.6°C during the 20th century, but as Zwiers and Weaver discuss in their Perspective, the warming was not continuous. Two distinct periods of warming, from 1910 to 1945 and since 1976, were separated by a period of very gradual cooling. The authors highlight the work by Stott et al. , who have performed the most comprehensive simulation of 20th century climate to date. The agreement between observed and simulated temperature variations strongly suggests that forcing from anthropogenic activities, moderated by variations in solar and volcanic forcing, has been the main driver of climate change during the past century.