A pause in the pace of global warming does not invalidate research that links climate change to human activity, national science academies in the U.S. and U.K. said in a joint report.
While the science in some areas of climate change continues to evolve, man’s contribution to warming, sea-level increases and the decline in Arctic sea ice is “more certain than ever,” according to the report released today.
The report by the top scientists in two countries is meant to answer common questions on climate change in language non-scientists can understand.
“Our expectation as scientist always was to see very complex changes in the average temperature of the planet, and that’s exactly what we see,” Benjamin Santer, research scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, said at a briefing today. “The key point is that the stasis, slowdown as people have termed it over the last 15 years, does not fundamentally invalidate our understanding of the human effects on climate.”
Temporary cooling from increased volcanic activity or other emissions do not undermine climate models that aim to predict the rate of warming, Santer said.
Global-warming skeptics seized on what the scientific community calls a “hiatus” in warming as evidence that concerns over warming are overblown.
Temperatures on average worldwide rose at 0.05 degrees Celsius per decade from 1998 through 2012, according to a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The rate was 0.12 degrees per decade from 1951 through 2012, the panel said, noting that “due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends.”
While the U.S. Northeast experienced colder than normal temperatures in January, it was the fourth warmest January since 1990, according to Inez Fung, professor of atmospheric science at the University of California, Berkley.
“There will always be cold nights and cold days, but what we expect is that they will be rarer and rarer,” Fung said.
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