Global warming slowdown over, warn weather experts
The "slowdown" in global warming is over, according to weather forecasters.
While the world remained at near-record levels of warmth in the early 2000s, analysis of rolling 15-year trends shows that the rate of warming slowed between 1999 and 2014, British experts at the UK Met Office have warned.
But a change in the natural pattern of warm and cool phases in Pacific sea surface temperatures, which have an impact on global temperatures, has brought the slowdown to an end.
Climate sceptics had pointed to the slowing rate of temperature rises or "pause" as contradicting evidence of ongoing climate change, although experts said other signs of a warming world, such as rising sea levels, had continued.
Now, with the last three years each breaking the annual record for global temperatures, the slowdown is over.
Met Office chief scientist Professor Stephen Belcher said: "After a period during the early 2000s when the rise in global mean temperature slowed, the values in 2015 and 2016 broke records and passed 1C above pre-industrial levels.
"Data from the Met Office shows that the long-term rate of global warming has now returned to the level seen in the second half of the 20th century."
While the world has warmed since pre-industrial times, largely as a result of humans putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, there are still natural variations in the climate system which mean temperatures do not rise evenly from year to year, the experts said.
Meanwhile, a rapidly strengthening Hurricane Maria barrelled towards the eastern Caribbean islands with 200kmh winds yesterday, threatening the region with its second major storm this month.
Officials from French-controlled Martinique to the US Virgin Islands warned residents to prepare for the storm, now ranked by US forecasters as a major hurricane, at Category 3.
Maria was located about 70km east of Martinique, headed west-north-west on a track that would put it over the US territory of Puerto Rico by tomorrow.