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expert reaction to 2014 temperature data from the WMO

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has said that 2014 is likely to be one of, if not the hottest year on record. This is the case for the UK and on a global scale, and they say that this is in part due to high global sea temperatures.

 

Prof. Sir Brian Hoskins, Chair of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said:

The 2014 record levels of heat stored in the ocean because of the greenhouse gases we have added to the atmosphere and the changing climate of the world in the 21st century should focus the attention of the Governments in their on-going climate negotiations in Lima.

“The climate system is not going to wait for them. There must be an agreement by all in Paris in a year’s time that will lead to global greenhouse gas emissions peaking before 2030 and then falling rapidly, so as to limit the damage we are doing to our planet and the risk it implies for all the people of the world.”

 

Dr Michael Steinke, Lecturer in Marine Sciences at the University of Essex said:

“The unusually high sea surface temperatures will not only directly affect the biology and complex food webs that supply seafood to our dinner plates but weaken the solubility of carbon dioxide and other gases in seawater and accelerate global warming.”

 

Prof. William Collins, Prof of Meteorology at the University of Reading, said:

“The likely record warm temperatures this year add to the evidence that global warming is continuing its inevitable upward trend, and that we were right not to be lulled into a false sense of security by the slower warming of the last 15 years.

“It is worrying that these temperatures are occurring even without an El Nino event. This year has also seen record concentrations of CO2. The good news is that the recent IPCC synthesis report has shown that a combination of manageable CO2 emission reductions and action to adapt to climate change can help reduce the potential harm to society.”

 

Prof. Joanna Haigh, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said:

“The WMO reports that 2014 is on course to be the hottest year on record as well as having experienced a range of exceptional weather events, especially heat waves and flooding, across the globe.  Underlying these is the unremitting upward trend in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Only when governments agree to act on a global reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases will the worsening situation gradually begin to turn round ”

 

Dr Ed Hawkins, NCAS climate scientist at the University of Reading, said:

“Variations in UK climate from year to year will not always follow the global average as our weather is influenced by many factors. However, as the planet warms there is more chance that we will also break records in the UK.

“Looking at the averages for Central England between January and November, 2014 is far and away the warmest on record so far. Unless there is a relatively cool December, 2014 will be the warmest, as well as one of the wettest. This would make 2014 the warmest ever recorded in Central England since records began in 1659 – the year before the restoration of the monarchy – and around 1.5C above the 1961-1990 average.”

 

Prof. Martin Siegert, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said:

“The WMO press release on the ‘provisional statement on the status of the Global Climate in 2014’ refers to changes to the cryosphere (the world’s ice) in a responsible way.  Seemingly opposing changes to the extent of sea-ice (growing in the Antarctic, shrinking in the Arctic) are testament to the complex interplay between processes operating at or near the Earth Surface that we are only now beginning to comprehend.

“In terms of sea level, while thermal expansion due to ocean warming is the largest component, the greatest potential for future change comes from the world’s largest ice sheets, in Greenland and Antarctica. Again, processes leading to ice sheet change are different in the Arctic vs the Antarctic. In Greenland, summer warmth is causing enhanced direct surface melting. In the Antarctic, ice loss is via ocean warmth melting the ice edge. Worryingly Antarctic ice sheet loss may be unrelated to recent ocean warming, suggesting future changes could be increasingly severe, especially in certain particularly vulnerable regions where ocean-warmth contact with the ice is predicted over the coming decades.

 

Prof. Matthew Collins, Joint Met Office Chair in Climate Change at the University of Exeter, said:

“With weak El Nino conditions likely to persist into December, this will put 2014 firmly on track to be among the warmest years of the observational record. The question on everyone’s lips is, will this signal an end to the current hiatus in global mean temperature trends and a resumption of the rapid global warming we saw at the end of the 20th century?”

 

Prof. Nick Pidgeon, Professor of Social and Environmental Psychology at Cardiff University, said:

“The issue of climate change has taken something of a backseat in ordinary people’s minds over the past 5 years. We now have evidence that extreme weather events, such as those occurring in the UK during 2007 and again last winter, hold the capacity to banish people’s scepticism.  This in turn should make society and politicians more willing to initiate bold action to combat climate change.”

 

Declared interests

None declared

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