Global warming? Not so fast

New research suggests that the standstill in global temperature increases since 1998 means that global warming will be less severe than originally predicted in the coming decades as temperature estimates are adjusted downwards.

“The most extreme projections are looking less likely than before,” Dr. Alexander Otto of the University of Oxford told BBC News.

Researchers found the globe will warm about 20 percent more slowly in the coming decades than previously estimated. In 2007, the United Nations climate authority predicted that temperatures would rise between 1 degree Celsius and 3 degrees Celsius in the short term. However, this new report estimates that the globe will only warm between 0.9 degrees Celsius and 2.0 degrees Celsius.

This study echoes the findings of a Norwegian study from earlier this year that found that global warming was less severe than the U.N. predicted. Indeed, many other researchers have also been lowering their estimates.

Cato Institute climate scholar Patrick Michaels gave a partial list of studies that have been lower than the U.N. estimates:

Richard Lindzen gives a range of 0.6 to 1.0 C (Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 2011); Andreas Schmittner, 1.4 to 2.8 C (Science, 2011); James Annan, using two techniques, 1.2 to 3.6 C and 1.3 to 4.2 C (Climatic Change, 2011); J.H. van Hateren, 1.5 to 2.5 C (Climate Dynamics, 2012); Michael Ring, 1.5 to 2.0 C (Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, 2012); and Julia Hargreaves, including cooling from dust, 0.2 to 4.0 C and 0.8 to 3.6 C (Geophysical Research Letters, 2012).

However, the researchers behind the new report caution that while the short-term global warming estimates are lower than expected, this does not mean that long-term temperature increases will be that much different than previously projected.

According to the researchers, the lower short-term estimates have resulted from oceans absorbing much of the world’s heat over the last decade. This means that global temperature increases will be more consistent in the long term.

The research also noted that the pause in global temperature rises since 1998 would need to last much longer to mean global warming had stopped.

“Given the noise in the climate and temperature system, you would need to see a much longer period of any pause in order to draw the conclusion that global warming was not occurring,” Otto told The Guardian, adding that maybe a 40-year period was needed to make such a determination.

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