Climate change research shows pockets of warming around world

Research by scientists at Florida State University shows the world is getting warmer, but it's not happening at same pace around the globe. The research also shows the greatest warming is happening in the northern hemisphere.

Research shows greatest warming in northern hemisphere, including much of Canada

In this July 19, 2007 photo, an iceberg melts off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland. Research by scientists at Florida State University shows the world is getting warmer but it's not happening at the same pace around the globe. (John McConnico/Associated Press)

The world is getting warmer, but it's not happening at same pace around the globe, according to research by scientists at Florida State University.

The research also suggests the greatest warming is happening in a swath of the world including Canada. 

The team of four scientists used new techniques to measure the short- and long-term fluctuations in land and surface air temperatures from the year 1900 onward.

This let them show for the first time in more detail how different regions around the world have different rates of warming and, in some cases, cooling.

The team from FSU's Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) was able to add more detail to what scientists already know about how Earth is warming, said Zhaohua Wu, one of the lead authors of the study.

Warming not uniform

"We tried to fill in the gaps," Wu said in a phone interview with CBC News.

"What is significant is that it is not uniform."

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows warming trends starting in 1900 that begin in the northern hemisphere in the high Arctic at latitudes between 60 to 70 degrees. 

The warming trends then speed up from the 1940s to the 1970s and spread to the tropics in the southern hemisphere, then slow down around 1998. 

But the warming is not consistent and includes areas where the change occurs more quickly, as well as pockets south of the equator, near the Andes, where temperatures have actually cooled.

Needs regional approach

The team compiled an animated coloured map that clearly illustrates dramatic changes in global temperatures.

Wu says this study shows for the first time the largest warming rate is in the mid-latitude of the northern hemisphere at around the 50th parallel.

In Canada, that's the swath of the country that stretches from just south of the U.S. border to about mid-Hudson Bay.

Wu says the research helps show that global warming is still occurring, but it includes pockets of regional cooling that may partly explain the average slowing down in the rise of temperatures.

He says the value of this information is show that human efforts to deal with climate change have to be done at local levels because that's how it's occurring.

"It shows that our response to mitigating global climate change should be a more regional approach," Wu said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?