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Global warming “not slowing down”

12/06/2011 - A new analysis of the five leading global temperature data sets provides further evidence for climate change. Despite some differences between the measurement curves they indicate an almost identical, steady global warming trend over the past 30 years. The researchers factored out three of the main factors that account for short-term fluctuations in global temperature: el Niño, volcanic eruptions and variations in the sun’s brightness. “Differences between the five data sets reside, to a large extent, in their short-term variability,” says Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, one of the study’s authors. ”After the variability is removed, all five of them are very similar.”
Global warming “not slowing down”

The five leading temperature data sets, shown in their adjusted form with short-term fluctuations factored out. Picture: Rahmstorf/PIK

El Niño is a naturally and irregularly occurring warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific whilst solar variation is the change in the amount of radiation emitted by the sun, dominated by an approximately 11-year-long cycle. Volcanic eruptions predominantly have a cooling effect lasting a few years, due to the very tiny erupted particles and droplets shielding light from hitting the Earth. The three surface temperature data sets scrutinized by the researchers were from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Hadley Centre/Climate Research Unit in the UK. Data representing the lower troposphere temperatures was based on satellite microwave sensors.

“Our approach shows that the idea that the global warming trend has slowed or even paused over the last decade or so is a groundless misconception”, Rahmstorf says. The study has now been published in the Environmental Research Letters.


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