Nathan P. Gillett, Dáithí A. Stone, Peter A. Stott, Toru Nozawa, Alexey Yu. Karpechko, Gabriele C. Hegerl, Michael F. Wehner, Philip D. Jones

Nature Geoscience

Published date October 30, 2008

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