Current global temperature rises ‘unprecedented’ over last 24,000 years - study

The study showed that over the last 150 years, rates of temperature rise surpassed the rate of changes in climate from more than the last 24,000 years.

 The sky over Jerusalem painted red and filled with smoke following a massive forest fire raging out in a forest near Beit Meir, outside of Jerusalem on August 15, 2021. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
The sky over Jerusalem painted red and filled with smoke following a massive forest fire raging out in a forest near Beit Meir, outside of Jerusalem on August 15, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

A University of Arizona-led study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature found that global temperatures have risen at a magnitude not seen since the last ice age over 24,000 years ago.

The study showed that over the last 150 years – since the industrialization of global societies – rates of climate rise surpassed the level and rate of changes in climate from over the last 24,000 years. The study also suggests that temperatures have generally risen over the last 10,000 years and further confirms that the main driver of climate change since the last ice age is anthropogenic– otherwise known as man-made climate change.

"The fact that we're today so far out of bounds of what we might consider normal is cause for alarm and should be surprising to everybody," said lead study author Matthew Osman, a geosciences postdoctoral researcher at the University of Arizona.

Researchers modeled temperatures dating back over 24,000 years using two independent datasets: temperature data from marine sediments and computer simulations of climate.

"To forecast the weather, meteorologists start with a model that reflects current weather, then add in observations such as temperature, pressure, humidity, wind direction and so on to create an updated forecast," according to study co-author U of A geosciences associate professor Jessica Tierney, adding that the models can be used to forecast historical weather.

"This reconstruction... suggests that the speed of human-caused global warming is faster than anything we've seen in that same time," she warned.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, November 1, 2021.  (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, November 1, 2021. (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

The urgency for climate action has grown as scientists and researchers issue seemingly grimmer warnings every year. The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as “COP26,” brought sovereign leaders and dignitaries from across the globe to Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 - November 12, 2021, with the aim to address existential issues and forge a new climate-friendly path forward before global warming reaches irreparable levels.