Warming Up

You might have read reports in the newspapers or heard about them from people who do not think that climate change is actually happening, that the UK Met Office, which is one of the three  major climate modellers and interpreters of climate data in the world, has recorded no global warming in the past ten or fifteen years. If so do not believe what you hear.

The Met Office does not depart from all other major institutions that analyse climate data. They report that “we have continued to see a trend of warming, with the decade of 2000-2009 being clearly the warmest in the instrumental record going back to 1850”.

Global warming is a trend. You can best think of it as mountain climbing. The climate warms up for a few years and then the temperature slips back a little for a few more years, then gets higher, only to slip back, but not as far as before.

If you look at the figures by picking out a particular year from the late 1870s and compare it with 1999 you will see a temperature rise of 0.3 ⁰C. If you choose to compare a year from the late 1850s with 1999 the temperature rise is 1.6⁰C. Often commentators and polemicists takes their choice, choosing the years that best fit in with their polemic.

The best way to consider what the measurements actually show is to look at all the data in graph form, and I have below reproduced one of the Met Office graphs (I got it from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/monitoring/hadcrut3.html).

The trend is one of warming, dangerous warming. I wish it were not so, but it is.