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Researchers Find Climate Warming Trend Speeding Up

Climate Change

Five scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have concluded that Earth is on the cusp of warming at unprecedented rates. In a paper published this week in Nature Climate Change, the lead researcher, Doctor Steven Smith, said "Essentially the world is entering a new regime - changing at a rate that natural processes might not be able to keep up with".

He and his colleagues called for urgent research on the impacts of such rapid rates of change for society and for natural systems. In Smith's study of climate change, he found that temperatures across the world have fluctuated up or down by about 2-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit per decade. But over the past 40 years, that rate is rapidly approaching 4-tenths of a degree, and is rising.

Smith said if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their present rate, warming will hit about 7-tenths of a degree in just a few years and stay that way until at least 2100. As he put it, "with those high rates of change, there's not going to be anything close to equilibrium".

Smith and his colleagues work at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration between the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland.

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