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Is Global Warming Slowing Down?

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First Posted: May 20, 2013 02:35 PM EDT
Climate activists Lesley Butler and Rob Bell (R) "sunbathe" on the edge of a frozen fjord in the Norwegian Arctic town of Longyearbyen April 25, 2007.

Climate activists Lesley Butler and Rob Bell (R) "sunbathe" on the edge of a frozen fjord in the Norwegian Arctic town of Longyearbyen April 25, 2007. Credit:Reuters

Global warming continues to be a hot topic across the planet, and yet there has recently been a question over the possibility that it may in fact be slowing down.

Being that scientists, as part of an international team, have announced that there has indeed been a "slowdown" in the rising of worldwide temperatures, the answer to that question may be yes.

It was on Sunday, May 19 that the team announced that there has been a slowdown of such rising temperatures across the globe, as relayed by Reuters.

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There's still much concern over looming global warming, however, as this slowdown may still not be able to quell the rising of global temperatures in a manner that will keep our worldwide temperature from going up 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) since the time of industrialization some two centuries ago.

"Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 Celsius (1.4F) since the Industrial Revolution and two degrees C is widely viewed as a threshold to dangerous changes such as more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels," Reuters says.

In order to keep global temperatures from rising to that degree, "tough measures" will still be needed to be put in place in order to stave off rising emissions of greenhouse gases.

"The most extreme rates of warming simulated by the current generation of climate models over 50- to 100-year timescales are looking less likely," the University of Oxford said about the findings in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Despite the fact that the 10 warmest years on record since such recording began in the 1850s have taken place after 1998, the rate at which global warming has taken place has fallen after experiencing peaks in the 1980s and 1990s.

This slowdown in global warming has puzzled experts, as –– again –– greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, particularly thanks to strong industrialization in China.

The experts involved in this recent study have suggested that should carbon dioxide in the atmosphere double since the Industrial Age (which is possible by the middle of this century), the global temperature could rise between 0.9 and 2.0 degrees Celsius (1.6 and 3.6F).

The U.N. had a panel of its own investigate these trends back in 2007, and that body suggested that the doubling of greenhouse emissions could feasibly raise the global temperature between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius (1.8-5.4F) since the Industrial Age.

In accounting for the further melting of ice that would take place with the doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the same U.N. panel continued that the temperature change could also reach as high as 2 to 4.5 C (3.6-8.1F).

"The oceans are sequestering heat more rapidly than expected over the last decade," Professor Steven Sherwood, from the University of New South Wales in Australia, said, though it should be noted that Sherwood was not involved in the study.

"By assuming that this behavior will continue, (the scientists) calculate that the climate will warm about 20 percent more slowly than previously expected, although over the long term it may be just as bad, since eventually the ocean will stop taking up heat."

The current experts who investigated these global warming numbers hail from the nations of: Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and Norway. They largely confirmed the numbers described by the U.N. panel in 2007.

"[W]e are still looking at warming well over the two degree goal that countries have agreed upon if current emission trends continue," Professor Reto Knutti of ETH Zurich, one of the authors of the study, said.

Like what you're reading? Follow @ProfKlickberg.

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