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NOT even the plains of Africa or the deserts of the Middle East will be as hot as New South Wales on Sunday.
The state will become the hottest place on the planet, with the current heatwave sending temperatures soaring to 47C. Worst hit will be residents in the western NSW towns of Ivanhoe, Tibooburra and Broken Hill.
Although periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, this current period has gone on much longer than usual and scientists are starting to worry—at least a little bit. Recently 100 scientists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America gathered to discuss the issue at an international solar conference at Montana State University. Today's sun is as inactive as it was two years ago, and solar physicists don’t have a clue as to why.
Based on the snake's size, the team was able to calculate that the mean annual temperature in equatorial South America 60 million years ago would have been about 91 degrees Fahrenheit, about 10 degrees warmer than today, Bloch said.
"Tropical ecosystems of South America were surprisingly different 60 million years ago," said Bloch. "It was a rainforest, like today, but it was even hotter and the cold-blooded reptiles were all substantially larger.
"The result was, among other things, the largest snakes the world has ever seen...and hopefully ever will."
Currently, the earth is in an interglacial period, which marked the beginning of the Holocene epoch. The current interglacial began between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, which caused the ice sheets from the last glacial period to begin to disappear. Remnants of these last glaciers, now occupying about 10% of the world's land surface, still exist in Greenland and Antarctica. Global warming has exacerbated the retreat of these glaciers.
This figure shows the history of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations as directly measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. This curve is known as the Keeling curve, and is an essential piece of evidence of the man-made increases in greenhouse gases that are believed to be the cause of global warming. The longest such record exists at Mauna Loa, but these measurements have been independently confirmed at many other sites around the world.
Climatologist Michael Mann's contentious graph has become a symbol of the fierce debates on evidence for global warming, to the extent that an independent investigation into the study was performed at the request of US Congressman Joe Barton. The 2006 report that resulted from the Barton enquiry criticized Mann and colleagues for their reliance on tree-ring data from bristlecone pines as a proxy to reconstruct Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the past 1,000 years. Although their earlier work had been largely vindicated, in September the same team revised their global surface temperature estimates for the past 2,000 years, using a greatly expanded set of proxies, including marine sediments, ice cores, coral and historical documents (Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 13252–13257; 2008). The team reconstructed global temperatures with and without inclusion of the tree-ring records: without their inclusion, the data showed that recent warming is greater than at any point in at least the past 1,300 years; inclusion of tree-ring data extended this period to at least 1,700 years.