Climate change slowdown is real: extreme rate of warming not likely now

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    Unlike common perception climate change slowdown is real and here to stay. On the other hand extreme rate of warming not likely now

    By Parwinder Sandhu

    The small steps taken by the earthlings towards saving its planet from the increasing global warming has finally borne the fruits as a recent study has suggested that the planet may be warming more slowly in the coming decades than has been previously projected.

    The study that found its way to journal Nature Geoscience revealed that while the world has experienced its hottest decade since records began, the rate at which temperatures are rising may have slowed.

    Though, it might have brought cheers to the environmentalists, the scientists are still treading the path bit cautiously as they sound a word of caution that the long term warming trend hasn’t changed.

    The report that was prepared by a team of climate change researchers said that the based n the data from the last decade it has been calculated that after significant rises in the 1980s and 90s, temperature increases have slowed in recent years. It may be recalled that since 1998, there has been an unexplained “standstill” in the heating of the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Explaining the report further, Dr Alexander Otto, the lead author of the report, at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, said: “The shorter term range, which is the rate of warming that we might have to expect over this century, might actually have to be adjusted downwards slightly. It is estimated that in the coming decades, global average temperatures will warm about 20 per cent more slowly than expected, and that the extreme temperature increases predicted by some scientists may need to be revised.”

    Maintaining that the outcome of the report is not to be taken lightly, Dr Otto further added: “It’s certainly no reason for satisfaction or a reason to relax in terms of climate policy because as we said before, the rate of warming that we will see eventually, later on in the coming centuries, has not changed from these data. If we were following our current emissions trend and we again have very specific scenarios despite being such a possibility, we would still look at temperatures at the end of the century well above or significantly above the 2 degrees target that we are talking about.

    It may be noteworthy that in its report in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had revealed that the short-term temperature rise would most likely be 1-3C (1.8-5.4F). However, the new analysis has changed the picture slightly and by including the temperatures from the last decade, has projected the range to be between 0.9-2.0C.

    The researchers have pointed out that the slowing down of the warming might be because of the oceans, which appear to be taking up more warmth from the air from 2000 onwards.

    In a report published in the month of April, the researchers have categorically stated that most of the excess energy was absorbed in the top 700 meters (2,300 ft) of the ocean at the onset of the warming pause, 65 percent of it in the tropical Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

    Hinting at the trend to be a temporarily relief, the report further heightened the fear that the climate might get worse quickly if huge amounts of extra heat absorbed by the oceans are released back into the air.

    However Prof Steven Sherwood, from the University of New South Wales and one of the contributors to the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report remains skeptical of the latest findings, suggesting that the rise in ocean temperatures may be part of a natural and changeable cycle.

    Maintaining that the conclusion about the oceans needs to be taken with a grain of salt for now, the Professor said: “They haven’t taken into account the natural variations in the ocean that cause it to temporarily store heat and we know that it does that. For example, an El Nino is when the heat stored in the ocean temporarily kind of “glurgs” out and so the surface warms up, but the total amount of heat in the system doesn’t change. And we know that kind of thing can happen and they haven’t really accounted for that and I think it may just be that if we repeat this analysis in another 10 years, do this calculation again, the answer’s going to go right back to what it was before.”

    Meanwhile, Dr Otto, while suggesting to continue with the efforts to reduce global warming, said: “We would expect a single decade to jump around a bit but the overall trend is independent of it, and people should be exactly as concerned as before about what climate change is doing.”