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Climate change scientists puzzled over lack of global warming during past decade

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Climate change skeptics have been using new data to challenge the current mainstream scientific consensus that the planet is warming. According To the latest research, the trend of natural warming has leveled off over the past 10 years.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Several media outlets including the Telegraph, and the Economist, have reported that the global climate has stabilized over the past decade. This holds stable a gradual warming trend that scientists have feared would, or will, upset ecosystems around the world and disrupt human society.

While most scientists and researchers agree the planet has been warming for some time, there is very little agreement as to the cause, and what solutions people should pursue. In the United States in particular, the debate over global warming has become politicized, and is particularly contentious.

Climatologists are not as quick as conservative bloggers to concede the issue. The problem they say, is one of complexity. The climate is simply too complex to pin down trends based on short observations. Amusingly, these are the same arguments that conservative commentators and skeptical scientists have been making for decades.

Despite the claim that temperature has leveled over the past decade that same time frame has seen some of the warmest years on record for many places around the globe. Extreme weather events also seem to be happening with greater frequency. It is beyond dispute that the Arctic ice cap covering the North Pole, is melting at an alarming rate and that Antarctic ice has thinned substantially over the past few decades. Sea level is also rising.

Climate change scientists suggest that the current leveling trend could be related to the loss of sea ice, particularly in the Arctic. As the sea ice melts, it exposes more of the underlying ocean. This sea then absorbs more of the planet's surface heat. This has a leveling effect on global air temperatures, and can explain why the past 10 years haven't seen as much warming--the oceans are absorbing the heat.

Scientists warn that warmer oceans can cause extreme weather with greater frequency, which would be consistent with recent observation. They also say that eventually the ocean's ability to absorb heat will be exhausted, and that heat will return to the atmosphere.

Scientists also say that despite the stall in warming, the reported temperatures still fall within the range of expected observation for a warming planet.

At the end of the day, scientists do have a perplexing problem to solve. Global CO2 concentrations are higher now than they have ever been in modern human history. According to classical global warming theory, the planet's temperature should continue to rise along with the CO2. This isn't what is being observed. It suggests strongly that current climate models may be too simple, and will have to be revamped to account for the existence of additional variables.

Although the models now have an apparent imperfection, weather patterns and climate are clearly changing. The difficult task ahead of us is to decide what we should do about it regardless of what the models say.

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