Scientists believe natural causes briefly paused climate change
Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 7:00 PM - New findings show that global temperatures did not rise over the last decade as fast as previous years, but the threat of climate change remains.
Global warming has been on "pause" for 15 years, according to scientists with the United Kingdom's Meteorological Office.
In a set of three new reports, researchers believe that global average temperatures have not risen as fast as predicted, but it's only a short-term anomaly that won't greatly affect future forecasts.
Global average temperatures remain higher than they've ever been since modern records were kept but after a period of rapid increase in the 1980's and 90's, there's been a dramatic delay.
The reason for the pause is that the oceans absorbed greater amounts of heat, which prevented people from noticing the difference at surface level.
The Earth has been absorbing energy at a a rate of 0.6 Watts per square metre - that's equivalent to 300 billion 1KW clothing irons being spread around the world.
But during the slow down, that number fell to 0.48 Watts per square metre.
Other factors that could have helped ease the rise include an increase in volcanic eruptions around the world and a slow down in solar activity.
Eruptions send particles into the atmosphere that reflect radiation from the sun, creating a cooling effect.
Climate scientists with the MET Office are keen to stress that despite the findings, 12 of the 14 hottest years on record have been recorded since 2000.
Oceans have masked the rise because increased current circulation has allowed for more heat to be carried to deeper depths.
Between 1998 and 2012, the average rate of warming was just 0.04 degrees Celsius per decade, compared with 0.17C per decade from 1970-1998.
Long-term projections do show periods of slowing but they don't exactly match current conditions.
Models show that a rise of 2C above pre-industrial temperatures is expected in the next 50 years, the current slow down will delay that rise by five to ten years.