From Green Right Now Reports

Congress debates it. Nations argue about how to address it. But its existence is “unmistakable” according to the 2009 State of the Climate report released Wednesday.

Global warming is happening, and it’s worsening every decade.

State of the Climate, which drew on work by 300 scientists in 160 research groups in 48 countries, confirms that the past decade of 2000-2009 was the warmest on record, and that Earth has been growing warmer over the past 50 years.

The research groups looked at 10 indicators, and confirmed that seven are going up, making the world slightly, but significantly warmer.

Air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat, humidity and tropospheric temperature (in the active weather layer closest to earth’s surface) are all moving upward.

All indicators show a warming world. (Image: NOAA.)

Three other indicators – arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern hemisphere – are declining, completing the picture of a warming world.

“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., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator in a news statement, noting that the records come from multiple institutions across the world.

The scientists collecting this information used weather balloons, weather stations, satellites, ships, buoys and field surveys.

“These independently produced lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion: our planet is warming,” Lubchenco said.

Global warming skeptics have questioned whether the data showing climate changes have been affected by the infrastructure around weather stations. They’ve also questioned whether the small, incremental warming is worth worrying about, calling it a natural phenomenon that requires no intervention.

Addressing that point, the report notes that already the warming trend has been melting glaciers and ice caps, and having a clear effect on the oceans, where the chemistry of biosystems is being altered by warmer waters.

“Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying and heat waves are more common. And, as the new report tells us, there is now evidence that over 90 percent of warming over the past 50 years has gone into our ocean,” said Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report and chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

NOAA’s statement about the report also notes that this analysis looks at temperatures and other variables decade by decade, which gives a picture of climate changes, as opposed to yearly variations in temperature.

The 1980s were warmer than any previous decade; the 1990s were even warmer. And now,  the first decade of the 21st Century has been the warmest on record.

“When we follow decade-to-decade trends using multiple data sets and independent analyses from around the world, we see clear and unmistakable signs of a warming world,” said Peter Stott, Ph.D., contributor to the report and head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution of the United Kingdom Met Office Hadley Centre.

Earlier, NOAA released a report detailing how 2010 has surpassed several temperature records, with March, April, May and June all being the warmest on record, based on combined global land and ocean surface temperatures. (June, for instance, was 16.2 degrees Celsius/61.1 degress Fahrenheit, which exceeded the 20th Century average of 15.5 degrees Celsius and 59.9 degrees Fahrenheit.)

  • For more information, see the U.S. government’s new climate website, which features graphs showing the global warming trends, as well as videos explaining various aspects of climate change. The website also offers a one-page primer on why scientists believe  carbon dioxide, which is increasing in the atmosphere (along with other greenhouse gases) as fossil fuels are burned, is causing global warming.