Scientists debunk criticism of climate change
It was the evidence that climate change sceptics loved to cite.
While the scientific community's warnings about global warming had become ever more convincing, the critics pointed time and again to graphs showing the rise in the world's average surface temperatures has slowed down since 1998 – a fact extensively interpreted by many as a fundamental failure in the basic science of climate change.
Now the scientists appear to have come up with an explanation. That "pause" in global warming can be largely explained by a failure to record an unprecedented rise in Arctic temperatures over the past 15 years, a study has found.
Two independent scientists have found that global temperatures over the past decade have almost certainly risen two-and-half times faster than British Met Office scientists had conservatively assumed when they estimated Arctic warming because of a lack of surface temperature records.
Moreover, when the latest estimates of Arctic temperatures are included in the global temperatures, the so-called "pause" in global warming all but disappears and temperatures over the past 15 or so years continue to increase as they have done since the 1980s, the scientists said.
Surface temperatures are effectively measured over only 84pc of the Earth, and a lack of weather stations in the Arctic in particular has long been recognised as a major gap.
This led to the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia to assume for the purpose of their calculations that the Arctic was warming as fast as the rest of the world, which they realised was probably an underestimate of the true position.
But now scientists have worked out a way of estimating these surface temperatures in the Arctic from satellite readings of atmospheric temperatures.
The study confirmed that the Arctic is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth – and its rapidly rising temperatures easily offset the "pause" in global warming.
The is to be published in the 'Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society'. (© Independent News Service)