Temperatures on the Rise?
The next two years could be the hottest on record globally, says research from the UK's Met Office. And that's good news for us sea kayakers!
The Met Office warns that big changes could be underway in the climate system with greenhouse gases increasing the impact of natural trends. The research shows that a major El Nino event is in play in the Pacific, which is expected to heat the world overall. The scientists confirm that in 2015 the Earth's average surface temperature is running at, or near, record levels (0.68C above the 1961-1990 average). And the trend is set to continue into the 2016 season.
Met Office Hadley Centre director Prof Stephen Belcher said: "We know natural patterns contribute to global temperatures in any given year, but the very warm temperatures so far this year indicate the continued impact of (manmade) greenhouse gases. "With the potential that next year could be similarly warm, it's clear that our climate continues to change." "This isn't a fluke. We are seeing the effects of energy steadily accumulating in the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, caused by greenhouse gases." The scientists say that the combination of the effect of increasing CO2, coupled with long-term natural ocean trends, leaves the climate system looking "very interesting". They suspect major changes may be underway.
Prof Adam Scaife from the Met Office said: "It's an important turning point in the Earth's climate with so many big changes happening at once." Two trends affecting weather patterns in the near and medium-term are in the Pacific Ocean. El Nino happens when a Pacific current reverses on average every five years or so, bringing downpours where there is normally drought and drought where there is normally rain. El Nino tends to push world temperatures upwards. This growing event is now looking similar to the 1998 El Nino, which bleached corals and brought havoc to world weather systems. The current event could increase drought risk in South Africa, East Asia, and the Philippines - and bring floods to southern South America. One good outcome might be the end of the crippling, four-year California drought.
The second natural change is a shift in the decadal temperature pattern in the North Pacific known as the PDO. It has been in a cool phase, which the Met Office says has contributed to the pause in the rise of average surface atmospheric temperatures over the past decade. Now, it is entering a warm phase, which will typically make the world hotter. But there's another factor at play. These two warming events will be partly offset by the North Atlantic temperature pattern (AMO) switching into a cool phase.
The scientists say they have recently learned more about how these great ocean patterns temper or accelerate human-induced warming, but Prof Sutton said: "The bit we don't understand is the competition between those factors - that's what we are working on." So the researchers can say that changes in the Atlantic mean Europe is likely to get slightly cooler and drier summers for a decade - but only if the Atlantic signal is not overridden by the Pacific signal. And they cannot be sure yet which influence will prevail. The Atlantic cooling could lead to the recovery of sea-ice in adjacent Arctic areas.
So as the nights close in and the temperatures drop in December, do not despair. it seems hotter weather is on its way and so are a host of kayaking trips, courses and events. And we'll be paddling throughout winter too.
Courtesy of BBC News and the Met Office.