Met Office predicts slower global warming
Global temperatures are likely to rise slightly less than predicted over the next few years, according to new modelling from the Met Office.
Temperatures are likely to be between 0.28C and 0.59C above the 1971-2000 average in 2013-2017, and are most likely to be around 0.43C above the long-term average, the latest analysis suggests.
Updated figures are slightly lower than the 0.54C above average that was predicted for 2012-2016, as a result of improved modelling, the Met Office said.
The fact that the new model predicts less warming globally over the next five years than previously forecast does not necessarily say anything about long-term predictions of climate change this century, the Met Office said.
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"This is an extremely challenging area of research not least because long-term comprehensive observations of the ocean do not exist to help us understand how the global oceans behave over decadal and longer timescales," said a Met Office spokesman.
"As with all areas of science, our knowledge is continually increasing and it is therefore not surprising that our models and predictive skill will continue to improve.
"The fact that the new model predicts less warming, globally, for the coming five years does not necessarily tell us anything about long-term predictions of climate change for the coming century."
Forecasts of continued global warming are driven largely by increasing levels of greenhouse gases. Experts from the Exeter agency warn that without efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, the world is on course for temperature rises of 3C-5C this century.
Met Office scientists are researching potential causes of the recent slowdown in global warming, including natural variability in temperatures, fluctuations in solar activity and the short-term influence of sulphate aerosol emissions.
Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8C but there have been periods of a decade or more when temperatures have risen only slowly, or even cooled.
The current slowdown in warming is not unprecedented, the Met Office pointed out. Although the hottest year in Met Office records was 1998, at 0.4C above the 1971-2000 average, each recent decade has been warmer overall than the previous, so the 2000s were hotter than the 1990s which were warmer than the 1980s.
The record temperatures in 1998 were due to the strong Pacific El Nino weather phenomenon.