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anthropogenic global warming, definition of

Anthropogenic Global Warming

Often abbreviated to just AGW. This is global warming which has been caused by human activity in addition to natural global warming.

The science around this is difficult to prove, as identifying a clear indicator of the human contribution which is independent of multiple natural causes is very hard to do in reality. The human element to global warming needs to be clearly and precisely measured against a background of natural global warming that has been occurring since the last ice age. 


Given the, until recent (last 20 years), lack of good direct measurement of the climatic system; a lot of dependence has been placed on proxy measurements, which often have high inherent error and many secondary effects that need to be taken into account. 

Temperature measurement is further complicated by the fact that a global temperature is a 'synthetic measurement'; i.e. it cannot be directly observed 'as is' instantaneously globally, it has to be calculated from sparse measurements (both in time and space) of temperature from multiple locations with differing local environmental conditions. Again this incurs additional errors and growing uncertainty.

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Related Tags: global warming, climate change

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