finding 1.1 : key-finding-1-1

The global climate continues to change rapidly compared to the pace of the natural variations in climate that have occurred throughout Earth’s history. Trends in globally averaged temperature, sea level rise, upper-ocean heat content, land-based ice melt, arctic sea ice, depth of seasonal permafrost thaw, and other climate variables provide consistent evidence of a warming planet. These observed trends are robust and have been confirmed by multiple independent research groups around the world.

This finding is from chapter 1 of Climate Science Special Report: The Fourth National Climate Assessment: Volume I.

Process for developing key messages: The key message and supporting text summarizes extensive evidence documented in the climate science peer-reviewed literature. The trends described in NCA3 have continued and our understanding of the observations related to climate and the ability to evaluate the many facets of the climate system have increased substantially.

Description of evidence base: The Key Finding and supporting text summarize extensive evidence documented in the climate science literature. Similar to statements made in previous national (NCA3)dd5b893d-4462-4bb3-9205-67b532919566 and internationalf03117be-ccfe-4f88-b70a-ffd4351b8190 assessments.

Evidence for changes in global climate arises from multiple analyses of data from in-situ, satellite, and other records undertaken by many groups over several decades. These observational datasets are used throughout this chapter and are discussed further in Appendix 1 (e.g., updates of prior uses of these datasets by Vose et al. 2012;56ff58db-e758-4042-9111-22a13e4758a2 Karl et al. 2015fc03a2dc-341a-4143-9f9c-d117bb66dd20). Changes in the mean state have been accompanied by changes in the frequency and nature of extreme events (e.g., Kunkel and Frankson 2015;9b9e779a-651a-48ef-8145-2484e0c7df35 Donat et al. 20168be3c048-4605-4823-8ad9-143537b05065). A substantial body of analysis comparing the observed changes to a broad range of climate simulations consistently points to the necessity of invoking human-caused changes to adequately explain the observed climate system behavior. The influence of human impacts on the climate system has also been observed in a number of individual climate variables (attribution studies are discussed in Ch. 3: Detection and Attribution and in other chapters).

New information and remaining uncertainties: Key remaining uncertainties relate to the precise magnitude and nature of changes at global, and particularly regional, scales, and especially for extreme events and our ability to observe these changes at sufficient resolution and to simulate and attribute such changes using climate models. Innovative new approaches to instigation and maintenance of reference quality observation networks such as the U.S. Climate Reference Network (, enhanced climate observational and data analysis capabilities, and continued improvements in climate modeling all have the potential to reduce uncertainties.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: There is very high confidence that global climate is changing and this change is apparent across a wide range of observations, given the evidence base and remaining uncertainties. All observational evidence is consistent with a warming climate since the late 1800s. There is very high confidence that the global climate change of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities, given the evidence base and remaining uncertainties.f03117be-ccfe-4f88-b70a-ffd4351b8190 Recent changes have been consistently attributed in large part to human factors across a very broad range of climate system characteristics.

This finding was derived from figure -.2: Confidence / Likelihood

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