Top independent, peer-reviewed research indicating that climate change is real, deadly, and caused by humans

From Nature's excellent Climate Change section, excellent summation of the year's research into anthropogenic climate change — that is, the hard scientific evidence from unbiased, independent scientists indicating that climate change is real, caused by humans, and dangerous to the planet.

4. The hockey stick holds up

A follow-up to the infamous 1998 'hockey stick' curve confirmed that the past two decades are the warmest in recent history. 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for the past 2,000 years, using a greatly expanded set of proxies, including marine sediments, ice cores, coral and historical documents (Proc.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. According to the Christian Science Monitor: "It still looks a lot like the much-battered, but still rink-ready stick of 1998. Today the handle reaches further back and it's a bit more gnarly. But the blade at the business end tells the same story."

What we've learned in 2008