ANSWER: Yes. We find clear evidence of warming from a worldwide variety of temperature measurements. These include thermometers far from the “heat islands” that cities produce, thermometers in the ocean and in boreholes drilled into rocks, thermometers carried aloft by balloons and looking down from satellites. In addition, warming is indicated by most of the significant changes in the timing and location of biological events, such as flowers blooming and animals migrating, as well as changes in snow and ice.

Certainly, weather still exists, giving us short-term changes in temperature and precipitation. Although record high temperatures have become much more common, record low temperatures are still being set. Natural events, such as La Niña—the temporary expansion of cold water across parts of the Pacific Ocean—can make the Earth’s average temperature for a year colder than the previous one. Scientists studying climate thus look at averages over long enough times—usually taken as 30 years—to smooth out the “bumps” (the natural and inevitable ups and downs) produced by the weather. When viewed this way, all of the major ways to measure the temperature near the Earth’s surface show that the climate is warming. NEXT QUESTION

Global Land - Ocean Temperature Index

Figure 1. History of global mean surface air temperature, from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The scale gives how much warmer or colder the world was than the average temperature during 1951-1980. Recent warming is clear, but with year-to-year variability. Other research groups have produced similar plots that agree closely; the uncertainties in this plot are shown by the green bars. Notice that if you carefully picked an especially warm year as a starting point, you could find a few years that seem to show cooling, but this does not mean that global warming has stopped; weather still exists, but the climate is warming. (The figure is modified from figure 1a in Hansen, J., Mki. Sato, R. Ruedy, K. Lo, D.W. Lea, and M. Medina-Elizade, 2006: Global temperature change. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 103, 14288-14293, doi:10.1073/pnas.0606291103.) The data file is also available at the GISS site, if you want to access the raw numbers and graph it for yourself. The data are updated through 2011.

 

UPDATE OF THE WEEK

Mediterranean diet delays Alzheimer’s for three extra years
Filling your diet with plants, fish and oil and limiting your intake of processed food may slow the build-up of amyloid plaque, delaying the onslaught of Alzheimer's... READ MORE
This mind-reading hearing aid knows who you’re listening to
An ear mounted device with a battery of brain-scanning electrodes knows which sounds you're paying attention to – it might also help you get a good night's sleep... READ MORE
The fake burger test: Could meat made of plants ever fool you?
If you like meat, but don’t want a side of animal cruelty and environmental destruction, there’s something new on the menu – and it tastes surprisingly good... READ MORE
Origin of our species: Why humans were once so much more diverse
The idea that all humans evolved from a small population in East Africa turns out to be wrong. Our beginnings were far stranger and more colourful... READ MORE
Giant sea spiders sit and wait for prey to knock themselves out
Huge sea spiders move excruciatingly slowly, but they can still catch prey animals that move much faster than them – because their prey sometimes crash into the seafloor... READ MORE
Nenana Ice Classic 2018
Another year, another ice out date. As in previous years, here’s an update of the Nenana Ice Classic time series (raw date, and then with a small adjustment for the calendrical variations in &#... READ MORE
We’ve mapped 90 per cent of the stars in our bit of the galaxy
We have plotted almost all the stars near Earth, and the majority are peaceful enough that life on the planets around them could be possible... READ MORE
A male pill will be a breakthrough for science but not for women
Research is closing in on the elusive male contraceptive pill. But will it really lead to men taking more responsibility for birth control, wonders Lara Williams... READ MORE
Laser-sticker contacts could let you shoot beams from your eyes
Flexible lasers you can stick to anything can embed a security tag onto banknotes or contact lenses, and emit lasers when light shines on them... READ MORE
The original social justice warrior who smashed stereotypes
Margaret Mead’s 1920s solo trip to live among people in Samoa was just the start of a boundary-breaking and myth-demolishing career... READ MORE
Smart people literally have bigger brain cells than the rest
For the first time, IQ has been linked to neuron size and performance. The breakthrough could lead to new ways to enhance human intelligence... READ MORE
AI that deletes people from photos makes rewriting history easy
Ugly artefacts, photobombers, or people you’d rather forget can all effortlessly be removed from photos by AI, making it easy to rewrite history... READ MORE
Join NASA’s Operation IceBridge on its icy polar mission
This photoset is a glimpse into life as an ice watcher – flying long missions over frozen polar terrain to keep tabs on the warming world... READ MORE
Lightning hit a woman’s home and switched off her brain implant
Doctors are warning that some people should change the way they recharge their brain implants, after a lightning strike shut down a woman’s stimulation device... READ MORE
Women who eat more pasta tend to get menopause earlier
Eating more white pasta and rice has been linked to reaching menopause a year or so earlier than average, while eating oily fish is linked to later menopause... READ MORE
A mix-up means US air pollution is way worse than thought
Levels of nitrogen oxides in the air are still falling across the US, but satellite measurements show the reduction has slowed down unexpectedly since 2011... READ MORE
3000 missing children identified with face recognition in India
Thousands of children go missing in India every year. Facial recognition software is now helping reunite some of them with their families... READ MORE
To save the insect world we must go way beyond neonicotinoid ban
Europe's bold ban on bee-harming insecticides is a positive step, but much more is needed if we are to avoid ecological disaster, says Dave Goulson... READ MORE
More education is what makes people live longer, not more money
As countries get richer, their citizens live longer. We’ve long thought that rising wealth was responsible for this, but it turns out education is the cause... READ MORE
How some resistant bacteria can even eat antibiotics as food
Hundreds of resistant bacteria are able to actively feed on antibiotics. Now we know how - and we may be able to use it to remove antibiotics from our water... READ MORE