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Next five years could be global scorchers

global-warmingIf there’s nothing like an unusually snowy winter or a summertime cold spell to bring out the climate change deniers, what might a five-year global heat wave do for global warming activists?

We could soon find out, as a new study to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters finds that the relatively unremarkable global temperatures of the past seven years has been due to a weak El Niño trend and low solar activity. With both those factors set to perk up, the temporary lid they’ve placed on the greenhouse effect is likely to be lifted.

As that happens, the next five years could see average global temperatures increase much faster than predicted over the next five years, according to researchers Judith Lean of the US Naval Research Laboratory and David Rind of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In fact, as reported in the Guardian this week, warming trends over the next half-decade could exceed those predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by 150 per cent.

If that happens, we’re betting we’ll hear a lot less bleating from the denier crowd in years to come.

1 Comment

  • Brad Arnold
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 6:55 am

    We’ve been warming up about .2 C/decade for awhile now, and a 0.3 degree C. increase is predicted for the period 2004-2014 alone by Smith, Cusack et al, 2007. Add to that transfer of heat from the Pacific ocean to the air, and increased sun energy from solar flares, and you can expect our ecosystems to start being quickly destroyed soon.

    ‘Leemans and Eickhout (2004) found that adaptive capacity decreases rapidly with an increasing rate of climate change. Their study finds that five percent of all ecosystems cannot adapt more quickly than 0.1 C per decade over time. Forests will be among the ecosystems to experience problems first because their ability to migrate to stay within the climate zone they are adapted to is limited. If the rate is 0.3 C per decade, 15 percent of ecosystems will not be able to adapt. If the rate should exceed 0.4 C per decade, all ecosystems will be quickly destroyed, opportunistic species will dominate, and the breakdown of biological material will lead to even greater emissions of CO2. This will in turn increase the rate of warming’ –Leemans and Eickhout (2004), ‘Another reason for concern: regional and global impacts on ecosystems for different levels of climate change,’ Global Environmental Change 14, 219–228

    ‘There is no linear predictability in terms of how ecosystems respond. The phenomena of collapse is one that we have under-appreciated, partly because of the feed-back mechanisms that we are still trying to understand.’ –Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme, Oct. ’07

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