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'Climate change already on the march'

A wide-scale study published in British journal Nature strengthens warnings spelt out last year by UN scientists that climate change is already on the march.

world Updated: May 15, 2008 00:38 IST

A wide-scale study published Wednesday has strengthened warnings, spelt out last year by UN scientists, that climate change is already on the march.

The paper, published in Nature, goes beyond the scope taken by a landmark report issued by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February 2007.

In that document, the IPCC said man-made global warming was “likely” within a probability of 66-90 per cent to have had a “discernible” effect on many physical and biological systems.

The new study, published in the British journal Nature, is written by many of the people who wrote the so-called Working Group I report, the first of a trio of major assessments released last year by the IPCC.Its approach widens the net of data for making a fresh analysis.

It concludes “significant changes” are already occurring among natural systems on all continents, with the exception of Antarctica, and in most oceans.

“Humans are influencing climate through increasing greenhouse gas emissions,” said lead author Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Columbia Center for Climate Systems Research.

“The warming world is causing impacts on physical and biological systems attributable at the global scale.”

The analysis is based on a trawl of hundreds of papers published in peer-reviewed journals, on data stretching back to 1970s.

These investigations covered phenomena as varied as the earlier leafing of trees and plants; the movement of species to higher latitudes and altitudes in the northern hemisphere in response to warmer weather; the shrinkage of glaciers and melting of permafrost; and changes of bird migrations in Europe, North America and Australia.