No more pause: Warming will be non-stop from now on

The effects of climate cycles in cooling global surface temperature are rapidly diminishing. Anthropogenic forcing is overwhelming natural variability, so get used to continual warming.

Masahiro Watanabe of the University of Tokyo in Japan and his colleagues have found that, over the past three decades, the natural ups and downs in temperature have had less influence on the planet's overall warmth. In the 1980s, natural variability accounted for almost half of the temperature changes seen. That fell to 38 per cent in the 1990s and just 27 per cent in the 2000s.

According to another recent study, the current hiatus may be our last for a while. Matthew England and his colleagues at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, tried to quantify the chance of another pause. "It's looking to us that it's probably going to be the last one that we'll see in the foreseeable future," says England.

Using 31 climate models, they showed that if emissions keep rising, the chance of a hiatus – a 10-year period with no significant warming – drops to virtually zero after 2030. The current hiatus will probably be followed by rapid warming as the heat trapped in the ocean escapes back into the atmosphere, so we are unlikely to get another decade of no warming before 2030. England believes it could be another century or more before the next hiatus.

... even if a volcano erupts it will make little difference. "After 2030, the rate of global warming is likely to be so fast that even large volcanic eruptions on the scale of Krakatoa are unlikely to drive a hiatus decade," ...

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Tags: El Nino, anthropogenic forcing, climate cycles

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