Is global warming over? Has global cooling set in? A superficial look at temperature trends for the past few years may cheer the down-hearted and promise the thrill of vindication to climate deniers.
Not so fast, say scientists taking the long view as well as a full account of data. To begin with, climate is usually considered as the average weather over a long period of time – many say at least 30 years. A decade of flat temperatures cannot be used to determine if the world can go on its merry way of spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without incurring grave consequences for the climate that affects all things living on Planet Earth.
Data demonstrate that global surface temperatures have warmed more slowly over the past ten years or so than in the preceding three or four decades, but scientists modeling climate change say this is not unexpected. Numerous factors contribute to average temperatures, including natural climate variability, sun activity, volcanic eruptions and variations in El Niño and La Niña. What is significant are the long-term, upward trends that all methods of tracking global temperatures record.
The same could be said in answer to arguments over the accuracy of forecasting end-of-the-century temperatures. Whether the world will be 2° C. warmer or 4° is less significant than the certainty that the world will be warmer, and enough warmer to affect weather events, change vegetation, melt centuries-old ice and disrupt phenology.
So if the primary cause of global warming – greenhouse gases – has continued to increase, why have surface temperatures flattened out? Where has the heat gone? Look for it in the deep oceans, scientists say. Oceans are absorbing about 90 percent of heat resulting from greenhouse-gas emissions, causing temperatures deep in the seas to increase and sea levels to rise.
Read more: Global warming…still happening, by Ari Jokimäki
Examining the Recent Slow-Down in Global Warming, by Zeke Hausfather
Watch the video: No Slowdown in Global Warming