PerspectiveClimate Change

Glacier retreat crosses a line

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Science  22 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6199, pp. 872
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258584

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Retreating glaciers, bleached coral reefs, stranded polar bears, parched East African earth, receding tropical shorelines: These are the symbols of climate change in our young century. But how much responsibility do humans bear for these changes? In the case of glaciers, their worldwide retreat began in the 19th century, well before human effects on global climate are believed to have been significant. How much glacier retreat can be attributed to human influences on climate? On page 919 of this issue, Marzeion et al. (1) use climate models to assess the natural and anthropogenic (caused by humans) contributions to historical glacier mass loss.