The latest announcement from the UK Met Office states that over the next five years warming of the Earth surface will slow down, although the overall predictions for the coming century still remain unchanged.
It is reported that over the past decade, the warming effect of greenhouse gases gas been counteracted by natural cycles, slowing down atmospheric warming. The UK Met office conducted a small study based on the analysis of these natural cycles, and estimated an average figure of 0.43°C higher temperatures than these for the period between 1970 and 2000. The interesting point here is that the error bar indicates possible range of 0.28 and 0.59 °C increase.
Short term predictions of climate change have presented a big challenge for climatologists. Some even believe that the atmosphere could enter a cold phase resulting in cooler sea surface temperatures, despite the high levels of greenhouse gases. These are controlled by natural cycles, volcanic eruptions and smog formations.
The natural cycles that the Met Office refers to are associated with the movement of heat between the atmosphere and the oceans. Depending on the ocean currents, up to 90% of the heat generated by atmospheric greenhouse gasses could be absorbed by the oceans. Such cycles include the El Niño phenomenon, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.
Current knowledge is still not sufficient to fully understand the importance of these natural cycles and how they can influence climate change. However, it is clear that the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat, causing ice melts and even when air temperatures are not extreme.
Although oceans are currently absorbing most of the heat, scientists are sceptical that this trend will last very long. The predictions in a long run are still indicating that temperatures will continue to rise causing cycles to enter a new phase, causing the oceans to release heat instead of absorb it.