Humans have caused climate change for 180 years

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This research was all about trying to understand when humans started changing the climate through the burning of fossil fuels. So, it was really answering that question, 'when did global warming begin', and the answer that we found was quite surprising, it's really… humans started altering the climate in around about the 1830s. I'm Nerile Abram. I'm a climate researcher. I work at the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University. When manufacturing was really just starting off and we were only just starting to harness fossil fuels, even those small increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were enough to make a measurable impact on the earths climate. There's some strong regional patterns in the way that this human warming signal first developed. So, we see it really clearly in the tropical oceans and over the northern hemisphere continents whereas in the southern hemisphere it took a little bit longer for that warming signal to really start.

The Antarticas are a really interesting place and as a whole Antartica does't yet show a clear signal of human induced climate warming and part of that is just to do with the way that the circulation of the ocean and the atmosphere works in the southern hemisphere and that pushes any warming sort of further north and away from Antarctica. Some of the samples are samples that I've actually collected and worked on in the lab, but really this is much of a much bigger project than that. So, it draws in work that's been done by thousands of scientists across the world and brings that all together to answer this really big question. It's really important to know sort of how our climate responds, which parts of the earth respond most quickly to changes in green house gases and that's really important particularly if we're talking about how we might rectify problems of climate change in the future knowing sort of where there could be rapid pay backs if we are able to reduce emissions and even pull some of that carbon dioxide back..

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