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Climate change and human influence

10 March 2010
A Met Office review of the latest climate research confirms our planet is changing rapidly and man-made greenhouse gas emissions are very likely to be the cause. Long-term changes in our climate system have been observed across the globe, from shifts in rainfall patterns to a decline in Arctic sea-ice. The changes follow the pattern of expected climate change and bear the ‘fingerprint’ of human influence, providing the clearest evidence yet that human activity is impacting our climate.

The review studies developments in climate science since the last IPCC report (AR4) was published in 2007. Sophisticated ‘detection and attribution’ methods have been used to identify long-term changes in our climate and then consider:

  •  whether they are being caused by natural variability — such as changes in energy from the sun, volcanic eruptions, or natural cycles such as El Niño?
  • and, if not, is there evidence that human activity could be to blame?
Conclusions show the climate system is changing in a number of ways which follow the pattern of climate change predicted by computer models. The only plausible explanation is that changes are happening as a result of human activity, including man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Peter Stott, Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the Met Office, said: “Recent advances in observational data and the way it is analysed give us a better insight into the climate system than ever before. This has allowed us to identify changes in our climate and disentangle natural variability from the results.

“The science reveals a consistent picture of global change that clearly bears the fingerprint of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. This shows the evidence of climate change has gone beyond temperature increases — it is now visible across our climate system and all regions of the planet. Our climate is changing now and it’s very likely human activity is to blame.”

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