The world is starting to heat up again, say British scientists, raising speculation that a 15-year slowdown in the rate of global warming could be coming to an end. But Professor Scaife said it was still too early to say whether the 15-year pause in the rate of global warming was definitely about to end.
A pause in the rate of global temperature rises since the late 1990s has baffled climate scientists and led some to question whether man-made climate change was a serious problem.
But last year was the warmest on record, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation, and scientists at the UK’s Met Office say both this year and 2016 are shaping up to be just as hot.
The Met Office warning comes as negotiators prepare to meet for the UN-sponsored climate change summit in Paris in December in an attempt to reach agreement on limiting global greenhouse gas emissions.
A strengthening Pacific weather pattern, known as El Niño, which some US scientists forecast could be the most powerful, is likely to be one reason for the rise in temperatures, according to the Met Office research.
But the study’s authors say underlying warming caused by man-made climate change is also a factor, and that other changes in ocean temperatures may be playing a part.
“El Niño is the icing on the cake,” said Adam Scaife, head of the monthly to decadal prediction group at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Science and lead author of the paper
“El Niño only changes the temperature by maybe 0.1C or 0.2C and we’re talking about accumulated warming which is the best part of 1C, so that puts it into context.”
Professor Scaife said it was still too early to say whether the 15-year pause in the rate of global warming was definitely about to end.
“We can’t be sure this is the end of the slowdown, but decadal warming rates are likely to reach late 20th century levels within two years,” he said.