Thursday, November 29th 2012, 12:34 PM EST
'We're looking into this thing which is NOT HAPPENING'
Figures released by the UN's World Meteorological Organisation indicate that 2012 is set to be perhaps the ninth hottest globally since records began - but that planetary warming, which effectively stalled around 1998, has yet to resume at the levels seen in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The WMO figures are produced by averaging those from the three main climate databases: those of NASA, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the British one compiled jointly by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia.
The 2012 figure for the year so far stands at 14.45°C. If that were the figure for the full year, it would be cooler than 1998 (14.51°C) and most of the years since then (full listing from the Met Office here).
The official position of the climate establishment is that global warming is still definitely on and the flat temperatures seen for the last 14 years or so are just a statistical fluke of the sort to be expected when trying to measure such a vast and noisy signal as world temperatures with such precision. (The global warming since 1950 is assessed as just half a degree, a difficult thing to pick out when temperatures everywhere go up and down by many degrees every day and even more over a year.)
That said, there is now some admission even from the hardest climate hardliners that something may be going on which is not understood. Dr Peter Stott of the Met Office, head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution, had this to say while announcing the 2012-so-far-number:
"We are investigating why the temperature rise at the surface has slowed in recent years, including how ocean heat content changes and the effects of aerosols from atmospheric pollution may have influenced global climate."
Doha: Global warming is slowing down, says Met Office
- By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, The Telegraph