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Earth Is Warming: Past Decade The Hottest

July 29, 2010

Well, the title says it all and it’s no news- Earth is warming. This past decade our earth has been the warmest and the temperature has been undoubtedly rising- says new report on climate published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today. 37 indicators of global warming were studied while detailed focus was on 10 key indicators of global warming namely- land surface air temperature, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, tropospheric temperature, ocean heat content, specific humidity, snow cover, sea-ice extent, and glacier mass. Of these 10 indicators, first seven of them are expected to increase in a warming world while rest of them (snow- cover, sea-ice extent and glacier mass) are expected to decrease. And all these indicators are following the trend of warming world confirming that Global Warming is real.

“For the first time, and in a single compelling comparison, the analysis brings together multiple observational records from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the ocean,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “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,” [NOAA]

It’s important to note that climate phenomena has to be studied for long period of time to get some real sense of data. Periodic heating and cooling happens due to various phenomena such as Solar maximum/minimum, ElNino, La Nina etc, but looking at the data for many years and looking at average temperature anomalies (averaged over a decade) compared to a baseline average temperature can give clear picture of changing temperature pattern of the earth. In past 50 years global temperature has increased by 1 degree F and this figure shows the temperature rise pattern.

So where is the heat sink? Measurements show that more than 90% of heat is going to the oceans which partly explains rising sea-level due to expanding Ocean body. Warming of Ocean can have other serious implications. One such report is published in this week’s Nature  where scientists have shown that warm Oceans can be one of the major reason for depletion of phytoplankton, the microscopic organism which accounts for half of the photosynthetic activity on earth and releases 50% of the global Oxygen. As Ocean warms up surface water stays atop and prevents colder nutrient rich water to come up, thereby hindering phytoplankton’s photosynthesis process. Depletion of phytoplanktons implies decrease in number of fish and other species and then you can just imagine the disruption in food chain moving up.

It’s time to rise above petty politics and take some concrete steps in controlling Global Warming. The issue is bigger than any political ideology, any culture any nationality and the world has to reach to a consensus as soon as possible to tackle it. You can read the full report “State of Climate in 2009” and other supplementary documents here.

Picture credit: Flickr user johhlegear | Used under Creative Commons License

Global Warming plots credit: NOAA/ Arndt, D. S., M. O. Baringer, and M. R. Johnson, Eds., 2010: State of the Climate in 2009. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 91 (6), S1-S224.

Filed under: Environment,Research

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