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A 'Dow Jones' index for the world's climate

Ecologist

12th December, 2009

The sheer number of different measurements used to show evidence of climate change is dizzying. Now, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme has boiled them down to one, simple graph

The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) has attempted to cut through the confusion surrounding climate change data by releasing a single graph based on a range of different climate change indicators, including global average temperatures and Arctic sea-ice coverage (also included in the gallery above).

In creating what the scientists behind it describe as a 'Dow Jones index' for the world's climate, the IGBP says the Climate Index graph is 'unequivocal, global... and is in one direction'.

The graph, which represents the 'stability' of the climate, is not a perfect straight line. The IGBP scientists explain the dip in the early 1990s as a result of the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption in the Philippines in 1991.

But the stark trend and up-to-date information represented by the Index and its accompanying graphs indicates the pace of climatic change in the last three decades.

The Climate Index project is a response to the confusion caused by the piecemeal presentation of climate data to the public.

IGBP executive director, Professor Seitzinger, said:
'We felt people outside global-change research are not clear about the scale of the changes scientists are witnessing. The index is a response to these concerns.'

Sceptics

The index may deal a blow to climate change sceptics, who have siezed upon the release of hacked emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) as evidence that data used to indicate climate change may have been falsified.

In this case, none of the data used by the IGBP scientists appears to come from CRU datasets.

The index will be updated annually.

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