By Daniel Fineren
LONDON (Reuters) – Man will keep heating up the planet over the next few years but natural factors like cooler seas could soften the blow, according to a new study by Britain’s leading climate forecaster.
In its first long-term global climate forecast looking at natural and human factors behind climate change, the UK’s Met Office forecasts 2014 will be 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than in 2004, in spite of the cooling effect of natural factors in the planet’s atmosphere like lower sea temperatures.
“Internal variability will partially offset the anthropogenic global warming signal for the next few years,” study leader Doug Smith said in the report.
But while variations in sea temperature and even light-blocking volcanic ash could soften the impact of man’s ongoing contamination of the planet in some areas, overall global warming is still inevitable.
Many experts blame global warming for a rising tide of extreme weather that has caused flooding and heatwaves.
“The climate will continue to warm, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record,” Smith said.
Previous projections of climate change accounted for external factors — like changes in solar radiation absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere — and the effect of man but did not consider variations in natural influences on climate within the earth’s atmosphere, according to Britain’s official forecaster.
“Occurrences of El Nino, for example, have a significant effect on shorter-term predictions. By including such internal variability, we have shown a substantial improvement in predictions of surface temperature,” Smith said.
“Observed relative cooling in the Southern Ocean and tropical Pacific over the last couple of years was correctly predicted by the new system, giving us greater confidence in the model’s performance.”