ESRL/PSD Seminar Series

Global warming in an independent record of the past 130 years

Elyse Mauk
Univ. of South Carolina and NOAA Paleoclimatology


Criticism of the thermometer-based global surface temperature time-series (GST) motivated us to develop a completely independent dataset. The paleo trends index is compiled from 110 temperature-sensitive proxy records. Corals, ice cores, lake and ocean sediments, and historical documents were included, but not tree rings due to the potential loss of low-frequency trends. The individual series are globally-distributed with inter-annual to sub-annual resolution. Each series was normalized to produce index values of change relative to 1901-2000; the index values were then averaged. From 1880 to 1995, the index trends significantly upward, similar to the GST. Small-scale aspects of the GST including two warming intervals and a reduced trend during the 1940s are also observed in the paleo trends index. The Paleo index extends back to 1730 with 30 records, revealing that the upward trend observed in the GST began around 1800. The paleo trends index supports the fidelity of the GST and confirms the global extent of the warming trend of the past century.

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