New data from the US shows global warming never slowed in the last 15 years, as was believed so far.
After a raft of papers attempted to explain why global warming had paused—a 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had claimed global warming had slowed in the first decade of the 21st century as compared to the last 60-30 years of the 20th century—it has emerged that the slowdown might have been illusory. Researchers at the US’s National Centers for
Environment claim that global average temperatures rose at a rate of 0.1160C a decade between 2000 and 2014 compared to 0.1130C between 1950 and 1999. Their analysis, published in Science, is based on datasets from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that factor in now-known biases sea-surface temperatures. Besides, the new datasets include records from land-based monitoring stations, including those in the Arctic region, where observation has been poor.
To be sure, NOAA’s new datasets still show cooler observed conditions for the same period than most other climate models. But the warming trends hold right up to 2014, even if researchers consider 1998—when El Nino generated unusually extreme heat—as the base year. It is scientific consensus that climate change phenomena are influenced by too many known and unknown variables to be mapped with certainty—the latest reveal, too, points in that direction. Even so, as a recent McKinsey study points out, countries need to hedge for possible fallouts and further a mitigation agenda—there need to be more binding commitments on emission reduction by countries, in the manner of the US-China deal announced last year.