Scientists warn climate warming faster than feared

Scientists warn climate warming faster than feared


Scientists have warned that the world’s climate is warming faster than feared because previous predictions were too “optimistic” and overestimated the cooling impact of clouds.

A study published in the journal Nature found increasing levels of carbon dioxide will lead to thinner ocean clouds and reduce their cooling impact, causing temperature rises of at least three degrees Celsius over the course of the century.

hot-weather-US-graphicThe latest information came as the planet marked its fourth hottest year on record, and Australia recorded its hottest year in history.

The team of scientists said the findings show some climate models have been too “optimistic” and previous estimates of a minimum temperature rise of only 1.5°C could now be discounted.

The optimistic models did not properly assess the impact of water evaporation, which sometimes rises only a short distance into the atmosphere and causes updraughts that reduce cloud cover, the study found.

”These models have been predicting a lower climate sensitivity but we believe they’re incorrect,” said Professor Steven Sherwood, from the University of New South Wales, lead author of the paper.

Professor Steve Sherwood director Climate Change Research Centre University of New South Wales”The net effect of climate change is you have less cloud cover.”

The debate comes as Australia marked its hottest year since reliable recordings began in 1910.

The world’s driest continent also recorded its hottest day, hottest month, hottest winter’s day and hottest summer.

Globally, according to figures released in December by the United States National Climatic Data Centre, 2013 was set to be the fourth hottest year in 134 years of records behind 2010, 2005 and 1998.

Meteorologists said it was the hottest year on record for a non-El Niño year.

According to the Nature report global average temperatures will rise at least 4.0°C by 2100 and potentially more than 8.0°C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced.

The new research found global climate was more sensitive to carbon dioxide than most previously estimated.

Cloud-effect-climate-change-diagramThe research also appears to solve one of the great unknowns of climate sensitivity, the role of cloud formation and whether this will have a positive or negative effect on global warming.

“Our research has shown climate models indicating a low temperature response to a doubling of carbon dioxide from preindustrial times are not reproducing the correct processes that lead to cloud formation,” said Professor Sherwood.

“When the processes are correct in the climate models the level of climate sensitivity is far higher.

“Previously, estimates of the sensitivity of global temperature to a doubling of carbon dioxide ranged from 1.5°C to 5.0°C.

cloudy-weather-city“This new research takes away the lower end of climate sensitivity estimates, meaning that global average temperatures will increase by 3.0°C to 5.0°C with a doubling of carbon dioxide.”

According to the Nature article the key to this narrower but much higher estimate can be found in the real world observations around the role of water vapour in cloud formation.

Observations show when water vapour is taken up by the atmosphere through evaporation, the updraughts can either rise to 15km to form clouds that produce heavy rains or rise just a few kilometres before returning to the surface without forming rain clouds.

When updraughts rise only a few kilometres they reduce total cloud cover because they pull more vapour away from the higher cloud forming regions.

Carbon and Climate ChangeHowever water vapour is not pulled away from cloud forming regions when only deep 15km updraughts are present.

The researchers found climate models that show a low global temperature response to carbon dioxide do not include enough of this lower-level water vapour process.

Instead they simulate nearly all updraughts as rising to 15 km and forming clouds.

When only the deeper updraughts are present in climate models, more clouds form and there is an increased reflection of sunlight.

Flooded-Marshall-Islands-climate-changeConsequently the global climate in these models becomes less sensitive in its response to atmospheric carbon dioxide.

However, real world observations show this behaviour is wrong.

When the processes in climate models are corrected to match the observations in the real world, the models produce cycles that take water vapour to a wider range of heights in the atmosphere, causing fewer clouds to form as the climate warms.

This increases the amount of sunlight and heat entering the atmosphere and, as a result, increases the sensitivity of our climate to carbon dioxide or any other perturbation.

SunRiseThe result is that when water vapour processes are correctly represented, the sensitivity of the climate to a doubling of carbon dioxide, which will occur in the next 50 years, means we can expect a temperature increase of at least 4.0°C by 2100.

“Climate sceptics like to criticize climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect, but what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by those models which predict less warming, not those that predict more,” said Professor Sherwood.

“Rises in global average temperatures of this magnitude will have profound impacts on the world and the economies of many countries if we don’t urgently start to curb our emissions,” he added.

You can find the Nature article here.


  1. Yes its warming so much that ‘Global Warming’ Boats are stuck in the ice and there are massive blizzards int he USA & its been the coolest Christmas that anyone in Australia can remember!

    So warm that NASA images show the biggest, quickest growth of ice sheets in recorded history.

    You couldn’t be more inaccurate as a reporting entity……

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    • I agree that Maat is confusing weather with climate. I find it difficult to see how anyone can believe that we can produce so much air pollution, ocean pollution, garbage pollution etc. and have it not make some kind of an impact on the planet and the planet’s weather. One does not have to be a scientist to simply notice what is happening around the world. For argument’s sake let’s say that Maat is correct, it still does not make sense for us to be disrespectful of this giant rock we live on floating around in space.

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      • Hi Kali,
        I agree there are real issues of pollution (mainly the fault of the large corporations that are exempt from all the carbon laws) but global warming is clearly a farce to put a blanket Tax on all human activities where the little man pays not the corporation. Real Environmentalists need to ensure the movement and funding arent taken over by scams like Global Warming which has in my opinion ruined the Enviro cause to where it is just a Tax pushing movement not concerned in any way shape or form with what you or i are.
        Its totally backward to see Al Gore & co say – oh Warming causes cooling and cooling is a sign of Warming? How convenient for their ilk to have it both ways huh?………..

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  2. Yes!!!! – that shows you how much we have been lied to by the U.N.’s IPCC & characters like Al Gore…..who is a a career Politician lets not forget folks…..

    If you believe Snow in Egypt is a sign of Global Warming you have lost all cognitive faculties and are now a citizen of Planet Backwardsville & your language is officially ‘doublespeak’

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  3. We are not heading towards Global Warming but Global cooling, that’s what real scientist are talking about climate change is a cycle and the Green Fascist Scientist get plenty of media coverage as mass media is controlled by the same people that are behind the Green Fascism, One volcano eruption releases more Carbon than the industrial revelation, and wind power and Solar is in efficient as they are now finding out in Germany there is to be a mass moving out of Germany by their manufacturers as Green power is killing their business , the same people who are preaching about reduction in Carbon are also against the efficient clean nuclear power generation. What they are really aiming for is population reduction the heads of the Green movement want to reduce world population below 1 Billion –they used to be known as the eugenics movement and it is possible to rule the world if they get their population reduction . STOP BEING FOOLED THE CRASHING WORLD ECONOMY IS PART OF IT AND THE PUSH FOR WAR.

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    • Hi Dee – i’m not a fan of either party actually & the climate has been changing since time began, its a question of if Carbon Dioxide is the main culprit – i think thats been shown to be not the case & also – do you think c02 is more important an issue as the 5 reactor meltdowns at Fukushima?

      Or should we pay a blanket tax on everything to fix all Enviro issues so we can just keep watching TV every night & let someone else fix it all?

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  4. Glad to hear Maat
    I am not a big fan of Nuc power. But if you really think that mankind and the Industrial Revolution has not contributed to Climate Change and detruction of the environment and the balance of the ecology I think you are misguided. Mankind will never fix all the environmental issues. There is 7 Billion people on the planet. Even if 3 Billion were to go it is not enough. Nature will deal the issue not mankind. However in the mean time we should try and curb our selfish behaviour and just use what we need

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  5. Hi Dee,
    Yes I agree! – humans have caused massive destruction – the planet is in a right state – but the main things i see and can measure are the BP Oil spill & Fukushima which threaten us all and need immediate action – if the powers that be & puppet leaders really cared they would be addressing these issues right now. All they do is talk about Tax & C02.

    The source of the C02 myth is the UN’s IPCC – they have a track record of getting it wrong. This is a fact they even admit themselves in regards to their climate ‘MODELLING’

    I’m not into reducing population – drive 30mins out of any city and you are in the middle of nowhere……the elite via their think tanks have openly admitted to wanting Population reduction – just google it, Bill Gates is a main proponent, you will find him on youtube going on endlessly about it……maybe he should give up some of his property/energy use and children – or how about the same for Al Gore & his Mansions or Ted Turner and his 5 children and being the biggest landowner in the US – what about the British Royal Family (biggest Landowners on the planet) spouting on about people having hot showers & taking the public funding for disadvantaged power useage for heating their own unused palaces? ALL facts – just look them up….

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