Manchester Metropolitan University

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Humans to blame for rising sea temperatures

HUMAN activities are to blame for rising sea surface temperatures, according to research carried out by MMU and the world’s leading atmospheric scientists.

Climate scientists looked at causes of oceanic warming over the past century and pinpointed an increase in greenhouse gases as the primary cause.

Rising sea surface temperatures are linked to a degradation in the marine food chain and the increasing occurrence of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, similar to Katrina which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

Dr Sarah Raper, senior research fellow in the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment, teamed up with colleagues in the USA, Germany and the UK for the major study which was published in the highly-prestigious Proceedings of the American National Academy of Sciences.

Tropical Oceans

The team examined data from 22 computer models of the climate system taken from 15 research centres around the world. They found sea surface temperature increases in the tropical Atlantic and Pacific oceans range from 0.32 degrees Celcius to 0.67 over the past century.

"The important conclusion is that the increases cannot be explained by natural processes alone. They have a large human influence," said Tom Wigley at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA.

For the period 1906-2005, researchers found an 84% probability that human-created factors, primarily a rise in greenhouse gas emissions, account for at least 67% of the observed rise in temperature.

Dr Raper was joined in the study by colleagues at the University of California Merced, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Hamburg, the University of East Anglia, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center and others.

- Earlier this year Dr Raper published work in Nature which predicted that glacial melt would result in much lower rises in sea levels than previously feared.

For more about environmental research at MMU, go to www.egs.mmu.ac.uk/research.htm

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