Last updated October 10, 2018

Attribution of polar warming to human influence

  • States that several studies have noted a rise in Arctic temperatures over recent decades, but have not formally attributed the changes to human influence, owing to sparse observations and large natural variability
  • Uses an up-to-date gridded data set of land surface temperatures and simulations from four coupled climate models to assess the causes of the observed polar temperature changes
  • Finds that the observed changes in Arctic and Antarctic temperatures are not consistent with internal climate variability or natural climate drivers alone, and are directly attributable to human influence
  • Concludes that human activities have already caused significant warming in both polar regions, with likely impacts on polar biology, indigenous communities, ice-sheet mass balance and global sea level