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A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, confirms that the Earth's land has warmed by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the last 250 years, that the increase is almost entirely caused by humans and that the rate of warming has accelerated in the last 50 years. The results are particularly significant as the lead researcher for the report was previously known for his sceptical views on climate change and the work was also part-funded by a foundation which is the key backer of a 'climate sceptical' institute.
Prof Richard Muller, a physicist and climate change sceptic who founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) project, said (reported by The Guardian and Daily Telegraph) he was surprised by the findings. "We were not expecting this, but as scientists, it is our duty to let the evidence change our minds."
He added that he now considers himself a "converted sceptic" and his views had undergone a "total turnaround" in a short space of time.
Funding for the project included $150,000 from the Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation, set up by the billionaire US coal magnate and a key backer of the climate-sceptic Heartland Institute thinktank.
A team of scientists based at the University of California, Berkeley, gathered and merged a collection of 14.4m land temperature observations from 44,455 sites across the world dating back to 1753. Previous data sets created by Nasa, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Met Office and the University of East Anglia's climate research unit only went back to the mid-1800s and used a fifth as many weather station records.
Muller said his team's findings went further and were stronger than the latest report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Guardian also reports that In an unconventional move aimed at appeasing climate sceptics by allowing "full transparency", the results have been publicly released before being peer reviewed by the Journal of Geophysical Research. All the data and analysis is now available to be freely scrutinised at the Best website.