(CN) – A new method of tracking global warming has given scientists the ability to see how the 19th century contributed to man-made climate change, a new research study revealed on Monday.
The multinational study published in the scientific journal Nature Sustainability took a new approach to tracking climate change. Rather than research the annual mean temperature change across the world, scientists from China, the U.K. and Germany instead focused on changes in temperature seasonality, the difference between the highest temperatures in the summer and lowest temperatures in the winter called the annual temperature cycle.
Scientists found that the increase of climate extremes goes far back beyond modern data, which has been tracking anthropogenic, or human-caused climate change since the 1950s.
“It is well known that humans are driving global warming, but when did this begin?” said lead author Jianping Duan, “Our study has shown that anthropogenic influence on climate change started much earlier than we previously believed.”
Using the new method, researchers said they discovered that temperature seasonality was stable up until the 1860s, a time filled with the rapid expansion of railroads and factories.
The study found that a “sustained and significant” weakening in the magnitude of the annual temperature cycle in Europe began in 1865, though they lacked data to specify when such changes occurred in North America and Asia.
The scientists said such climate changes can be monitored in plant growth as well, finding that some plants have adapted either regionally or globally as a consequence.
The study found that “increased greenhouse gas concentrations and anthropogenic aerosols are the main contributors” to the climate extremes. Researchers suggest that the reduction of greenhouse gases and aerosols can help mitigate the effects of climate change.