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Watch 131 years of global temperatures in 26 seconds

  • 31 Jan 2012, 11:20
  • Christian Hunt

It's one thing knowing the planet has been warming at around  0.13°C per decade for the last 50 years. It's another to see it mapped out. Over the past 100 years, the planet has been warming, and over the 26 seconds of this video, from NASA, you can see what this sustained warming trend looks like.

The video also shows that warming is not uniform or consistent - there are periods where parts of the world get cooler, and where temperatures stand still for a while. When climate skeptics make the argument that ' global warming has stopped' because temperature rise has slowed in the last few years, they're relying on their audience not knowing that temperatures can behave in all sorts of ways - because of natural climate cycles, or things like volcanoes which cool the planet by releasing sulfur into the atmosphere.

But here, despite the fluctuations, you can see the warming trend quite clearly. In this animation of temperature data from 1880-2011, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average. 

What appears obvious to the eye is also backed up by scientific analysis - the world continues to warm. Scientists believe that until we cut the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere temperatures are almost certain to continue to rise.

The NASA results are also in close agreement with the other major global temperature measurments, as you can see from this comparison chart from the World Meteorological Society. All the major datasets show that the 2000's were the hottest decade on record - a finding confirmed by last year's Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project. 

Compare _datasets

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