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Long-Term Warming has produced 5X Increase in Record Warm Months

January 14, 2013; 3:29 PM ET

Scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Complutense University of Madrid have concluded that on average, there are now five times as many record-breaking hot months worldwide than could be expected without long-term global warming.

The researchers also state that 80% of observed monthly records would not have occurred without human influence on climate.

The study is based off of 131 years of monthly temperature data for more than 12,000 grid points around the world.

A statistical model shows that the surge (especially over the past 40 years) in the number of records to be a consequence of the long-term global warming trend.

The data also shows the effect of natural variability such as the high number of heat records set during El Nino events. However, natural variability does not explain the overall development of record events according to the researchers.

The study predicts that the number of new monthly records will be 12 times as high in 30 years as it would be without climate change.

Excerpt below from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research press release......

"Statistics alone cannot tell us what the cause of any single heat wave is, but they show a large and systematic increase in the number of heat records due to global warming," says Stefan Rahmstorf, a co-author of the study and co-chair of PIK's research domain Earth System Analysis. "Today, this increase is already so large that by far most monthly heat records are due to climate change. The science is clear that only a small fraction would have occurred naturally."

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