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Recent heat may indicate faster warming

3:36pm, September 6, 2002

Global warming during the fourth quarter of the 20th century may already have hit the rate expected for the 21st century, suggests a new analysis of records going back to 1880. Sharply rising temperatures at the end of the 1990s indicate that the fever pace may be even higher, although other scientists doubt that the blip is a trend.

A series of 16 record-warm months in a row during 1997 and 1998 (SN: 1/2/99, p. 6) prompted Thomas R. Karl and his colleagues at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., to take a new look at global warming patterns. The string of record highs may mark a "change point" in the rate of global warming, they conclude in the March 1 Geophysical Research Letters.

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