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Advancing the Science of Climate Change
FIGURE 2.2 Global surface temperature change from 1880 to 2009 in degrees Celsius. The black curve shows annual average temperatures, the red curve shows a 5-year running average, and the green bars indicate the estimated uncertainty in the data during different periods of the record. For further details see Figure 6.13. SOURCE: NASA GISS (2010; based on Hansen et al., 2006, updated through 2009 at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/).
pendent research teams collect, analyze, and correct for errors and biases in these data (for example, accounting for the “urban heat island” effect and changes in the instruments and methods used to measure ocean surface temperatures). Each group uses slightly different analysis techniques and data sources, yet the temperature estimates published by these groups are highly consistent with one another.
Surface thermometer measurements show the first decade of the 21st century was 1.4°F (0.8°C) warmer than the first decade of the 20th century (Figure 2.2). This warming has not been uniform, but rather it is superimposed on natural year-to-year and even decade-to-decade variations. Because of this natural variability, it is important to focus on trends over several decades or longer when assessing changes in the heat balance of the Earth. Physical factors also give rise to substantial spatial variations in the pattern of observed warming, with much stronger warming over the Arctic than over tropical latitudes and over land areas than over the ocean.
Other measurements of global temperature changes come from satellites, weather balloons, and ships, buoys, and floats in the ocean. Like surface thermometer measurements, these data have been analyzed by a number of different research teams around the world, corrected to remove errors and biases, and calibrated using independent observations. Ocean heat content measurements, which are taken from the top sev-