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Climate Change Ship

June 13, 2013

Ocean temperature records from a ship that circumnavigated the globe 135 years ago confirm global warming.



Climate change at sea. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update. When the crew aboard the research vessel HMS Challenger circumnavigated the globe in the 1870s, they had no idea that their voyage would provide evidence of global warming 135 years later. Climate scientists Will Hobbs of the University of Tasmania, and Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory compared ocean temperatures recorded by the ship to those of today, and concluded that there’s no way they could have risen so much without human-induced climate change. Willis explains.

JOSH WILLIS (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory):

We’ve really gotten this sort of view of how the oceans have changed in this time. A data point a hundred years ago is a like gold mine in terms of climate science because it gives us a really good reference point for how the climate was before we started changing it so quickly.


He says the Challenger’s voyage was the first comprehensive survey of the world’s oceans. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS. the science society.

Upper Deck of the HMS Challenger:

Story by Susanne Bard