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Human fingerprint: The human fingerprint refers to the identifiable impact of human activities on the environment or specific systems, such as climate change, pollution, or alterations in ecosystems. It denotes distinctive markers or signs, scientifically observed and attributed to human influence, shaping and altering natural processes on a global scale. See also Climate change, Climate damages, Climate periods, Climate history.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Climatology on Human Fingerprint - Dictionary of Arguments

Edwards I 461
Ecological Footprint/climatology/Edwards: The “fingerprint” metaphor suggests that climate forcings from human activity, such as greenhouse gases and aerosols from fossil fuels, may produce different patterns from those caused by natural forcings such as volcanic eruptions and sunspots. Such fingerprints would be multivariate - that is, they would appear in the relationships among multiple variables, rather than in single-variable climate statistics such as global average temperature. Also, they would be four-dimensional: part of the pattern would be temporal, related directly to the increases or decreases in forcings. Once you identify a likely fingerprint, you will
Edwards I 462
need a data set that includes all the fingerprint variables, and you will need these data to be temporally consistent. That sounds like reanalysis. Predicting a fingerprint requires forcing climate models with a realistic array of relevant factors on a time-evolving or “transient” basis.(1) You also calculate the amount of “noise” produced by natural variability in the control runs. If your fingerprint signal remains after subtracting this noise, you’ve found a candidate for a unique anthropogenic effect, one that could not be caused by any known combination of natural events. Then you check the observational data. If you see the same fingerprint there, you’ve found some evidence of anthropogenic change.
(…) in 2003 and 2004, a group led by Ben Santer at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory used ERA-15 and then ERA-40 reanalysis data to clearly identify one model-predicted fingerprint: a significant change in the height of the tropopause.(2) Heating in the troposphere and cooling in the stratosphere would cause the height of the tropopause to rise. Both are GCM-predicted responses to anthropogenic greenhouse gases and stratospheric ozone depletion. GCM runs including only natural forcing factors, such as solar and volcanic activity, do not produce this result. Though still not fully confirmed, this and similar results reached from reanalysis data have created cautious optimism that the tropopause height changes seen in the ERA-40 reanalysis are real, and that they represent a significant fingerprint of anthropogenic climate change.

1. G. A. Meehl et al., “Low-Frequency Variability and CO Transient Climate Change,” Climate Dynamics 8, no. 3 (1993): 117–; S. H. Schneider and S. L. Thompson, “Atmospheric CO and Climate: Importance of the Transient Response,” Journal of Geophysical Research 86, no. C4 (1981): 3135–.
2. The tropopause marks the boundary between the troposphere, or lower atmosphere, and the stratosphere. Within this shallow horizontal band occurs a relatively abrupt transition from a steady cooling with height (characteristic of the troposphere) to a steady increase of temperature with height (in the stratosphere). Tropopause height varies with latitude as well as with weather conditions, but should maintain a steady climatological average in the absence of forcing. B. D. Santer et al., “Behavior of Tropopause Height and Atmospheric Temperature in Models, Reanalyses, and Observations: Decadal Changes,” Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 108, no. D1 (2003): 4002; B. D. Santer et al., “Identification of Anthropogenic Climate Change Using a Second-Generation Reanalysis,” Journal of Geophysical Research 109 (2004): D21104, 35; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Edwards I
Paul N. Edwards
A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming Cambridge 2013

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