THE world’s climate has cooled during 2011 and 2012, temperature data from Britain’s Met Office reveals — just before this year’s talks on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions. The figures show that, although global temperatures are still well above the long-term average, they have fallen significantly (sic) since the record seen in 2010.
The findings could prove politically sensitive, coming ahead of the United Nation’s climate summit in Doha, Qatar, where the global system for regulating greenhouse gas emissions faces collapse.
The threat comes because the Kyoto treaty, under which developed nations pledged to cut their carbon emissions, expires at the end of this year. Doha is seen as the last hope of securing an extension.
In such a febrile situation, any data casting doubt on climate scientists’ predictions is potentially explosive. The World Meteorological Organisation, which oversees the publication of climate trend data from the four main global centres, including the Met Office, has been strongly criticised for its policy of releasing such data just before the UN’s key annual summits.
“In the past two years we have seen a slight decline in temperature,” said Peter Stott, the Met Office’s head of climate monitoring and attribution. “However, it is such a short period that it is scientifically meaningless. Climate change can only be measured over decades — and the records show that the world has warmed by 0.75C over the past century.”
The Met Office figures show that, for the first 10 months of 2012, global temperatures averaged 14.43C; 2010 was significantly (sic) hotter at 14.54C.
Stott says the heat of 2010 was caused by an “El Niño” event, where warm water currents in the Pacific released unusual amounts of heat into the atmosphere. “It is a natural short-term fluctuation and nothing to do with climate change,” he said.
The longer-term record shows global temperatures have hardly risen for about 15 years. Stott said, however, that the key point was that, although global temperatures had not risen as predicted over the past decade or so, they had remained consistently above the long-term average.
“This is why the Arctic icecap is melting and extreme weather events are increasing,” he said.
Editor’s Note: The cooling of global temperature since 2010 is statistically insignificant.