Important for the definition of "pre-industrial climate"
The new Bern study not only explains the global early 19th century climate, but it is also relevant for the present. "Given the large climatic changes seen in the early 19th century, it is difficult to define a pre-industrial climate," explains lead author Stefan Brönnimann, "a notion to which all our climate targets refer." And this has consequences for the climate targets set by policymakers, who want to limit global temperature increases to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius at the most. Depending on the reference period, the climate has already warmed up much more significantly than assumed in climate discussions. The reason: Today's climate is usually compared with a 1850-1900 reference period to quantify current warming. Seen in this light, the average global temperature has increased by 1 degree. "1850 to 1900 is certainly a good choice but compared to the first half of the 19th century, when it was significantly cooler due to frequent volcanic eruptions, the temperature increase is already around 1.2 degrees," Stefan Brönnimann points out.
Information about the publication:
Brönnimann, S., J. Franke, S. U. Nussbaumer, H. J. Zumbühl, D. Steiner, M. Trachsel, G. C. Hegerl, A. Schurer, M. Worni, A. Malik, J. Flückiger, and C. C. Raible (2019): Last phase of the Little Ice Age forced by volcanic eruptions. Nature Geoscience.