Humans have been driving global warming for nearly two centuries, finds a new study showing climate change isn't just a 20th century phenomenon.
The study, published today in major journal Nature and authored by an international team of 25 scientists, finds that global warming began during the early stages of the industrial revolution and is first detectable in the Arctic and tropical oceans around the 1830s - much earlier than scientists had expected.
The new insights have important implications for assessing the extent that humans have caused the climate to move away from its pre-industrial state, and will help scientists understand the future impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the climate.
The study's lead author, Associate Professor Nerilie Abram from The Australian National University, said anthropogenic (man-made) climate change was generally talked about as a 20th century phenomenon because direct measurements of climate are rare before the 1900s.
However, the team studied detailed reconstructions of climate spanning the past 500 years to identify when the current sustained warming trend really beg