By Nick McDermott
THE Met Office has admitted that global warming has stalled.
Officials say that by 2017, temperatures will not have risen significantly for nearly 20 years.
They concede that previous forecasts were inaccurate – and have come under fire for attempting to ‘bury bad news’ by publishing the revised data on Christmas Eve.
Now a press release, published yesterday , has confirmed that over the next five years temperatures will be 0.43 degrees above the 1971-2000 average, instead of the previously forecast 0.54 degrees – a 20 per cent reduction.
This rise would be only slightly higher than the 0.4-degree rise recorded in 1998, an increase which is itself attributed by forecasters to an exceptional weather phenomenon.
With all but 0.03 degrees of the increase having occurred by 1998, the revision means that no further significant increases to the planet’s temperature are expected over the next few years.
The figures have been seized on by sceptics of man-made climate change, who claim that global warming has flatlined despite a large rise in greenhouse emissions in recent decades.
Dr David Whitehouse, science adviser to the Global Warming Policy Foundation , said: ‘That the global temperature standstill could continue to at least 2017 would mean a 20-year period of no statistically significant change in global temperatures.
‘Such a period of no increase will pose fundamental problems for climate models . If the latest Met Office prediction is correct, then it will prove to be a lesson in humility.’
However, Dr Richard Allan of the University of Reading said: ‘Global warming is not “at a standstill” but does seem to have slowed down since 2000, in comparison to the rapid warming of the world since the 1970s.
‘In fact, consistent with rising greenhouse gases, heat is continuing to build up beneath the ocean surface.’
He was backed by Bob Ward of the London School of Economics, who said it would be wrong to interpret that warming had stopped.
However, he also condemned the Met Office for releasing data without an explanation of its full meaning.
‘It’s true to say this isn’t the Met Office’s finest hour,’ he said.
‘The sceptics have simply exploited that fact. I think on this particular occasion the Met Office has fallen short of the standards one would expect of them.’
Labour MP Graham Stringer said the Met Office’s short-term forecasts had improved, but their climate change analysis was ‘poor’ .
He said: ‘By putting out the information on Christmas Eve they were just burying bad news – that they have got their climate change forecast wrong.
‘For a science-based organisation, they should be more up front, both about their successes and failures.’
The Met Office said the updated fiveyear predictions were a result of a new modelling system, which takes into account changes in ocean surface temperatures , and was released as soon as practically possible.
It claims the slow-down in temperature rises after a steep increase in the 1990s
‘They got their forecast wrong’
could be explained by natural variability, changes in solar activity, and the movements of the oceans.
Forecasts of continued global warming are driven largely by increasing levels of greenhouse gases.
Experts warn that without efforts to reduce emissions, the world is on course for dangerous temperature rises in the next century.
Professor Myles Allen of the University of Oxford said: ‘A lot of people were claiming, in the run-up to the Copenhagen 2009 conference, that warming was accelerating and it is all worse than we thought.
‘What has happened since then has demonstrated that it is foolish to extrapolate short-term climate trends.
‘While every new year brings in welcome new data to help us rule out the more extreme scenarios for the future, it would be equally silly to interpret what has happened since the early 2000s as evidence that the warming has stopped.’
Copyright © 2013 Daily Mail – Sent in by T Stokes London
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