Article

Nature 453, 353-357 (15 May 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06937; Received 28 January 2008; Accepted 19 March 2008

Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change

Cynthia Rosenzweig1, David Karoly2, Marta Vicarelli1, Peter Neofotis1, Qigang Wu3, Gino Casassa4, Annette Menzel5, Terry L. Root6, Nicole Estrella5, Bernard Seguin7, Piotr Tryjanowski8, Chunzhen Liu9, Samuel Rawlins10 & Anton Imeson11

  1. NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia Center for Climate Systems Research, 2800 Broadway, New York, New York 10025, USA
  2. School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
  3. School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, 100 East Boyd Street, Norman, Oklahoma 73019, USA
  4. Centro de Estudios Científicos, Avenida Arturo Prat 514, Casilla 1469, Valdivia, Chile
  5. Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technical University of Munich, Am Hochanger 13, 85 354 Freising, Germany
  6. Stanford University, Center for Environmental Science and Policy, Stanford, California 94305, USA
  7. INRA Unité Agroclim, Site Agroparc, domaine Saint-Paul, F-84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France
  8. Department of Behavioural Ecology, Institute of Environmental Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89, PL-61–614 Poznan, Poland
  9. China Water Information Center, Lane 2 Baiguang Road, Beijing 100761, China
  10. Caribbean Epidemiology Center, 16–18 Jamaica Boulevard, Federation ParkPO Box 164, Port of Spain, Trinadad and Tobago
  11. 3D-Environmental Change, Curtiuslaan 14, 1851 AM, Heiloo, Netherlands

Correspondence to: Cynthia Rosenzweig1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to C.R. (Email: crosenzweig@giss.nasa.gov).

Top

Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.

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