Ten indicators from the Met Office


in Politics, Science, The environment

One reason we can have a lot of confidence about the basic science of climate change – that the world is warming, because of people, in ways that could be harmful to humanity – is because there are numerous independent indicators showing the same trends. A new report from the Met Office in the United Kingdom highlights this, pointing to ten distinct indicators that all show the planet warming:

  1. Rising air temperature over land
  2. Rising sea-surface temperature
  3. Rising marine air temperature
  4. Rising sea-level
  5. Rising ocean heat
  6. Rising humidity
  7. Rising tropospheric temperature in the ‘active-weather’ layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth’s surface
  8. Declining arctic sea-ice
  9. Declining glaciers
  10. Declining spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere

Deke Arndt, who co-edited the report, explained that: “The records come from many institutions worldwide. They use data collected from diverse sources, including satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ships, buoys, and field surveys. These independently produced lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion: our planet is warming.”

None of this is new, really, but there is value in re-expressing it and stressing how the different indicators reinforce one another. Climate change deniers often fixate on details, raising doubts about a single measure and then suggesting that this calls into question the whole edifice of climate science. What work like this Met Office report indicates is how climate scientists are approaching the problem in a way that reduces the danger of such dangerous extrapolations.

Of course, that means climate change is something we really do need to worry about, and which we ought to be taking much more action about.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan August 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Good post. A good companion piece though would be to acquire a “top ten” list of pieces of evidence showing global warming isn’t happening/is a hoax/isn’t man made etc…

Milan August 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm

It is possible to create a ‘top 10 reasons not to worry about climate change’ list, but they aren’t as convincing as the top reasons for being concerned.

It would probably include things like: “Warming up the oceans takes a lot of time and energy” and “both humans and natural systems can adapt to change.”

The other list would feature things like: “Positive feedbacks are scary” and “changing infrastructure usually takes decades.”

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