What is it about?

This study is from 1996, when it was still ‘early days’ in terms of people taking climate change seriously. Scientists were beginning to make predictions about how the climate would develop over the next few decades. But no one was sure whether climate change was following natural patterns, or whether human activity was making it worse. The scientists on this project worked out how to make their predictions cope with ‘normal’ amounts of temperature change. This made it easier to see ‘abnormal’ changes from the preceding 30 years. When they tried to predict temperatures, the new technique proved to be accurate. They could see trends, and they could see that human activity had contributed to global warming.

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Why is it important?

This project turned out to be a really important foundation for future research. It provided clear proof that human activity is a major cause of global warming and climate change. It also showed that we could not carry on as usual – we were heading towards climate disaster. KEY TAKEAWAY: It is more than 25 years since scientists were able to show that human activity is a cause of climate change.

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This page is a summary of: Detecting Greenhouse-Gas-Induced Climate Change with an Optimal Fingerprint Method, Journal of Climate, October 1996, American Meteorological Society, DOI: 10.1175/1520-0442(1996)0092.0.co;2.
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