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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Recent global warming is an "unprecedented" worldwide phenomenon that differs from the more regional and staggered climatic variations that occurred during the past 2,000 years, a new study concludes.

Why it matters: The paper in the peer-reviewed journal Nature underscores the scope of human-driven warming and how it contrasts with variations in the pre-industrial era.

Where it stands: The study, using information from tree rings, ice cores and more, reconstructs past periods to show that major fluctuations occurred in different places at different times.

  • The paper finds "no evidence for preindustrial globally coherent cold and warm epochs" over the past 2,000 years.
  • For instance, the "little ice age" was coldest in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean in the 15th century, in northwestern Europe and southeastern North America in the 17th century, and in most other places in the 19th century.

The big picture: The results support a "regional framing" for understanding the climate variability in the 2 millennia before the industrial revolution — and demonstrates that it's a very stark contrast to what's happening now.

"When we go back in the past these are regional phenomena. We found 98% of the globe has this coherent warming during this contemporary period after the Industrial Revolution,"
— said co-author Nathan Steiger of Columbia University at a press briefing this week.

The bottom line: The findings provide "strong evidence that anthropogenic global warming is not only unparalleled in terms of absolute temperatures, but also unprecedented in spatial consistency within the context of the past 2,000 years," the paper states.

What they're saying: University College London scientist Mark Maslin, who was not part of the study, told Reuters the results should "finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural ... cycle."

Go deeper: All the global temperature records broken in 2019, so far

Go deeper

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.