World News

Study Finds Earth Warmer Today Than Most of Past 11,000 Years

A comprehensive new study of ancient climate data finds that the Earth is warmer today than it has been during most of the past 11,300 years.

Researchers at Oregon State University and Harvard University sampled data from 73 ice and sediment core monitoring sites around the world to reconstruct a planet-wide temperature history dating back to the end of the last Ice Age. OSU paleoclimatologist Shaun Marcott, the lead author on the study, says previous climate histories have mainly focused on changes over the past 2,000 years, but the new data puts today's climate change into a much broader and long-term context.

The study, published in the journal Science, looks at temperature variations over a relatively warm period in Earth's history known as the Holocene, which began after the end of the last major Ice Age and continues through all of human history to the present day.

Scientists believe a shift in the Earth's orbit about 12,000 years ago gradually increased solar radiation in parts of the globe and helped drive a one-degree Celsius warming trend. After about 6,000 years, the planet began to cool -- until about 200 years ago, when temperatures began rising steadily.

The Harvard-OSU study finds that the decade from 2000 to 2009 was one of the warmest since modern record-keeping began. And while current global average temperatures have not yet topped the levels reached during the early Holocene, the reseachers say they are heading in that direction. They forecast that by the end of this century, the Earth's average air temperature will rise between two to five degrees Celsius, the warmest the planet has been in 11,300 years.

Marcott and colleagues stress that what sets today's warming trend apart from historic patterns is its suddenness. They say the rate of temperature change over the past 150 years -- since the advent of industrial-age greenhouse gas emissions -- is greater than any previous shifts during the Holocene period.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs