Climate Science

Feeling Is Believing

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Science  07 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6112, pp. 1265
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6112.1265-c
CREDIT CREATAS/THINKSTOCK

Weather is generally much more variable than climate, and a single person's experience of either is restricted in both space and time. Still, at some point, or even right now, it is expected that climate change will become more apparent even to an average person, at least in some regions. Mahlstein et al. point out that the locations that will provide the earliest individually apparent evidence are those where the magnitude of some manifestation of climate change is greater than local weather variability: presently, that means lower latitudes, where the annual range of seasonal temperatures is the smallest. They therefore use observational temperature data from every longitude to investigate if and where emergent local warming signals are apparent and when those warming trends became clear. They find that some locations, mainly at low latitudes, began to reveal rising temperatures as early as during the 1960s, but that far more areas still do not show a clear local signal. However, the frequency of emerging signals is increasing with time, and it is clear that the pattern of emergence reflects a steadily warming climate.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L21711 (2012).

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