by Dr D. Whitehouse, Sep 23, 2022 in NetZeroWatch
The so-called hiatus in global annual average temperature between 2002 – 2014, once controversial to some but now well-established in the peer-reviewed literature, ended in 2014 with the start of a series of record-breaking El Nino events that spiked global temperature with a subsequent fall-back. Now a new study into the effect of man-made aerosol pollution adds to likely reasons for the end of the hiatus, and may point to lower estimates for future global warming.
An international research team writing in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, uses satellite data to show that concentrations of aerosol particles have decreased significantly since 2000. This is good news as cleaner air benefits health, but it also reduces particles’ which have a cooling effect on the terrestrial climate.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by 2019 the global temperature had risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels due to increasing greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuels. At the same time the combustion of fossil fuels emit aerosols which cool our climate by reflecting sunlight and increasing the reflectivity of clouds.
Professor Johannes Quaas, a meteorologist at Leipzig University, and colleagues from Europe, China, and the US have published robust observational evidence of significant reduction of aerosol pollution and improved global air quality.
When taken together with a couple of super-strong El Nino events which temporarily drove up global temperature (see graph below), the new findings suggest that the global warming hiatus — clearly evident prior to 2014 — may not have ended yet. If NASA’s satellite data are confirmed, it would suggest that much of the very moderate changes in global temperature this century may have been driven primarily by cleaner air and naturally-occurring El Ninos.