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New study clarifies relative recent cool period, forecasts 150% greater warming over 5 years

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  • Christopher Miller
    From the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/27/world-warming-faster-study ========================================================= World
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 28 9:59 AM
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      From the Guardian:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/27/world-warming-faster-study

      =========================================================

      World will warm faster than predicted in next five years, study warns
      New estimate based on the forthcoming upturn in solar activity and El
      Niño southern oscillation cycles is expected to silence global warming
      sceptics

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      • Duncan Clark
      • guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 July 2009 15.39 BST
      • Article history

      (image)

      The world faces record-breaking temperatures as the sun's activity
      increases, leading the planet to heat up significantly faster than
      scientists had predicted for the next five years, according to a study.

      The hottest year on record was 1998, and the relatively cool years
      since have led to some global warming sceptics claiming that
      temperatures have levelled off or started to decline. But new research
      firmly rejects that argument.

      The research, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, was
      carried out by Judith Lean, of the US Naval Research Laboratory, and
      David Rind, of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

      The work is the first to assess the combined impact on global
      temperature of four factors: human influences such as CO2 and aerosol
      emissions; heating from the sun; volcanic activity and the El Niño
      southern oscillation, the phenomenon by which the Pacific Ocean flips
      between warmer and cooler states every few years.

      The analysis shows the relative stability in global temperatures in
      the last seven years is explained primarily by the decline in incoming
      sunlight associated with the downward phase of the 11-year solar
      cycle, together with a lack of strong El Niño events. These trends
      have masked the warming caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

      As solar activity picks up again in the coming years, the research
      suggests, temperatures will shoot up at 150% of the rate predicted by
      the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Lean and Rind's
      research also sheds light on the extreme average temperature in 1998.
      The paper confirms that the temperature spike that year was caused
      primarily by a very strong El Niño episode. A future episode could be
      expected to create a spike of equivalent magnitude on top of an even
      higher baseline, thus shattering the 1998 record.

      The study comes within days of announcements from climatologists that
      the world is entering a new El Niño warm spell. This suggests that
      temperature rises in the next year could be even more marked than Lean
      and Rind's paper suggests. A particularly hot autumn and winter could
      add to the pressure on policy makers to reach a meaningful deal at
      December's climate-change negotiations in Copenhagen.

      Bob Henson, of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in
      Colorado, said: "To claim that global temperatures have cooled since
      1998 and therefore that man-madeclimate change isn't happening is a
      bit like saying spring has gone away when you have a mild week after a
      scorching Easter." Temperature highs and lows


      1998

      Hottest year of the millennium

      Caused by a major El Niño event. The climate phenomenon results from
      warming of the tropical Pacific and causes heatwaves, droughts and
      flooding around the world. The 1998 event caused 16% of the world's
      coral reefs to die.


      1957

      Most sunspots in a year since 1778

      The sun's activity waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle. The late 1950s
      saw a peak in activity and were relatively warm years for the period.


      1601

      Coldest year of the millennium

      Ash from the huge eruption the previous year of a Peruvian volcano
      called Huaynaputina blocked out the sun. The volcanic winter caused
      Russia's worst famine, with a third of the population dying, and
      disrupted agriculture from China to France.


      =========================================================

      Christopher Miller
      Montreal QC Canada
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