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Study: Climate change predictions from 1990 have come true

Storm clouds in Goderich, Ontario (courtesy: Dale Matthies)
Storm clouds in Goderich, Ontario (courtesy: Dale Matthies)

Staff writers

December 13, 2012 — Global temperature estimates made by climate scientists in 1990 appear to have come true, according to a pair of researchers.

Global average temperatures are expected to rise by 1.1°C by 2030
Global average temperatures are expected to rise by 1.1°C by 2030

In 1990, a team of leading climate scientists predicted that the average global temperature would increase by 0.55°C by 2010, and 1.1°C by 2030.

Now, a pair of researchers have deemed that estimate to be accurate, more than twenty years later.

Professor David Frame of Victoria University and Dr. Dáithí Stone of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the predictions appear to be on track, in spite of  "several climate-altering events" that were not accounted for, such as the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 and the increased use of fossil fuels in Asia.

The discovery was made when the pair analyzed statistical data on global temperatures between 1990 and 2010.

In 2011, The World Meteorological Organization came to similar conclusion, calling 2010 the "warmest year on record" after the  global average temperature climbed 0.53°C above the average global temperatures from  1961 to 1990.

"It is important for scientists to go back and see how early climate change predictions are going," Dr. Frame said at a press briefing.

"What we've found is that these early predictions seem pretty good, and this is likely due to the climate responding to concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere at a rate broadly in line with what scientists in 1990 expected."

The findings have been published in Nature Climate Change.

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