“Missing heat” discovery prompts new global warming estimate

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013

OTTAWA, November 14, 2013 — An interdisciplinary team of researchers have found the “missing heat” in the Earth’s climate system, casting doubts on suggestions that global warming has slowed or stopped over the past decade.

Observational data, on which climate records are based, covers only 84% of the planet and largely excludes the polar regions and parts of Africa.

Now, University of York computational scientist Kevin Cowtan and University of Ottawa cryosphere specialist and PhD candidate Robert Way have reconstructed the “missing” global temperatures by combining satellite data with surface observations gathered from weather stations and ships on the peripheries of the unsampled regions.

The new research published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, shows that the Arctic is warming about eight times faster than the rest of the planet. Previous studies by the UK Met Office, which were based on the HadCRUT4 dataset only covers about five-sixths of the globe, suggest that global warming had slowed substantially since 1997. However, the new research suggests that given the addition of the “missing” data, the warming rate since 1997 has been two-and-a-half times greater than shown in the Met Office studies. Evidence for the rapid warming of the Arctic includes observations from high latitude weather stations, radiosonde and satellite observations of temperatures in the lower atmosphere, and reanalysis of historical data.

He said that “there’s a perception that global warming has stopped but, in fact, our data suggests otherwise. But the reality is that 16 years is too short a period [from which] to draw a reliable conclusion. We find only weak evidence of any change in the rate of global warming.”

Robert Way added that “changes in Arctic sea ice and glaciers over the past decade clearly support the results of our study. By producing a truly global temperature record, we aim to better understand the drivers of recent climate change.”



Néomie Duval
International Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 2981
Cell: 613-863-7221

David Garner
Senior Press York
University of York
Office: +44 (0) 1904 322153

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