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Climate study, funded in part by conservative group, confirms global warming

The latest global warming results confirm those from earlier, independent studies by scientists at NASA and elsewhere that came under fire from skeptics in an episode known as 'climategate.'

Ice chunks float in the Arctic Ocean as the sun sets near Barrow, Alaska. The Arctic is a thermostat against overheating and a barometer of change, but now its own protective ozone layer that keeps out damaging ultraviolet radiation has thinned to record levels, the U.N. weather agency has said.

Beth Ipsen/AP

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A new climate study shows that since the mid-1950s, global average temperatures over land have risen by 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.6 degrees Fahrenheit), confirming previous studies that have found a climate that has been warming – in fits and starts – since around 1900.

Most climate scientists attribute warming since the mid-1950, at least to some degree, to carbon dioxide emissions from human activities – burning coal, oil, and to a lesser extent gas, and from land-use changes.

The latest results mirror those from earlier, independent studies by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research in Britain, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

These previous efforts, however, came under fire from some climate-change skeptics who said they had detected serious flaws in the analytical methods and temperature records the three groups used.

The new research, which has yet to be formally published but which appears in four papers posted on BerkeleyEarth.org, uses new analytical techniques and a much larger set of records than the previous studies did.

Indeed, the new approach to analyzing temperatures records allowed the team to make use of partial and older records previous studies had rejected as unusable, explains Richard Muller, a physicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who coordinated the effort.

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