January 10, 2013
Following media reports that “global warming has stalled” – despite the fact that Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology is predicting temperatures there could reach a record 52C – the Met Office has warned we will continue to see near-record levels of global warming over the next few years. The publication this week of an experimental decadal global temperature prediction showing global temperatures over the next five years are likely to be a little lower than those forecasted in December 2011 was widely reported as “reopening the climate change debate”. However, according to the Met Office: “Temperatures will remain well above the long-term average and we will continue to see temperatures like those which resulted in 2000-2009 being the warmest decade in the instrumental record dating back to 1850.
It explained decadal predictions are specifically designed to predict fluctuations in the climate system through knowledge of the current climate state and multi-year variability of the oceans.
The Met Office explains that: “Small year to year fluctuations such as those that we are seeing in the shorter term five year predictions are expected due to natural variability in the climate system, and have no sustained impact on the long term warming.”
“In this case, changes in ocean surface temperatures in some parts of the world over the past year are understood to have made a key contribution to the difference between the 2011 and 2012 forecasts, but other factors will also have played a role.
“Century-scale projections are less sensitive to natural variability and updates to the 2012 decadal forecast do not necessarily tell us anything about projections of climate change for the coming century.” The 2012 prediction is the first to use the Met Office’s latest experimental decadal prediction system, which includes a comprehensive set of improvements based on the latest scientific understanding.