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6. Contemporary Climate Change

6.1. Introduction

The last chapter examined episodes of past (palaeo) climate change reconstructed from proxy indicators. Since the late seventeenth century, and more commonly since the nineteenth century, instrumental records (section 3.2) have been kept that document more recent climate changes. Typically, this is labelled the study of contemporary climate change and it will be the focus of this last chapter. In particular, it will review the evidence for anthropogenic warming during the twentieth century, and possible future climate change. The numerous scientific assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (e.g. IPCC, 1990a, 1990b, 1992, 1995) provide excellent reference material for those wishing to study contemporary climate change in more detail.