By Frank Thomas
Within three decades scientists warn, warming will be irreversible. The world’s top scientists have just formally embraced an upper limit on greenhouse gases for the first time … establishing a target level at which humanity must stop spewing them into the atmosphere or face catastrophic climate changes. Scientists warned the target was likely to be exceeded in a matter of decades unless steps were taken soon to reduce emissions. The experts cited a litany of changes already under way, warned that they were likely to accelerate and expressed virtual certainty that human activity was the main cause.
This was reported last September in the International Herald Tribune and was taken from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2012.
One of the world’s leading climate researchers, Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. Center for Atmosphere Research in Boulder, Colorado came up with the best single, simple explanation of climate change. His concise explanation – with which I fully agree from my ongoing examination of what’s going on with climate change – was :
The Earth is habitable because of a natural greenhouse effect brought about mainly by water vapor (60%) and carbon dioxide (26%). Otherwise, Earth’s average temperature would be below zero Fahrenheit. Humans are altering the composition of the atmosphere, mainly by fossil fuels. As a result, carbon dioxide has gone up over 35% (as of Dec. 2010 or 43% as of Dec. 2013) since pre-industrial times and over half of that is since 1970. This changes the greenhouse effect and traps radiation that would otherwise escape to space, thus producing warming. The warming is manifested in many ways, not just increasing surface temperatures, but also melting ice, and changing the hydrological cycle and thus rainfall. Since 1970, the effects are large enough to be outside the bounds of natural variability for global mean temperatures, but global warming does not mean inexorable increases in temperature year after year owing to natural variability.”
So much for the unfounded reactions of die-hard climate change skeptics who in effect say greenhouse gases (GHGs) do not impact climate volatility. The recent revelation of a 60% increase in the Arctic ice cap over the last 12 months does NOT support the deniers’ propaganda that climate change is inherently NOT human caused … that it’s a cycle and fluctuation process naturally caused which has existed for millions of years. Pure nonsense, no scientific basis whatsoever!
Pages and pages of myths have been taken down with the force of hundreds of scientific papers. Consequently, 97% of climate scientists, every major scientific body in the world and a large segment of the general public agree human GHG emissions are changing the climate. But with the exception of Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and California, global action has been tragically weak to what is globally happening.
The 259 scientists from 39 countries who drafted the 5th IPCC REPORT are more convinced than ever that global warming is “unequivocal” and humans have been the primary cause of it over the last 60 years. That the warming-up trend is human caused is now considered “extremely likely” or a 95-100% certainty, an upgrade from a “very likely” 90%-100% certainty in the 4th IPCC report.
What the authors are not so confident about is the slowdown in the rate of warming over the past decade or more – despite sharply rising carbon dioxide concentrations. The report admits this is not fully understood, but the most plausible answer is the natural variability of climate. The report concludes that the long “pause” in the rate of increase in warming – the highest average global temperature occurred 15 years ago – is partly due to changes in the system. For example, this includes a redistribution of heat within the ocean, and factors such as solar output. Also aerosols produced by volcanic eruptions can reflect radiation back into space, thus having a cooling effect.
Of course, there are some big uncertainties, e.g., the likely amount of warming at given levels of GHG emissions, how much the sea level will rise which can be quite different for Northern and Southern Hemispheres and at what point there is certainty that plants and animals will largely be exterminated. But the IPCC report is adamant in saying that even a future “warming pause” of 15 years is too short a period to make a clear judgment.
As one American scientist who participated in writing the 5th report commented, “People think that global warming means every year is going to be warmer than the year before. It doesn’t work that way. It’s more like a stair-step process.”
As stated, the temperature ups and down are short-term fluctuations, mostly reflecting natural variability within the past underlying 60-year gradual trend of warming of surface air temperatures. But despite short term fluctuations there has been an inexorable retreat of mountain glaciers and Arctic sea ice in the last 30 years. Also Arctic (and Antarctic) oscillations which intensify stratospheric wind speeds have in turn increased earth warming via a stratospheric positive feedback. Other contributive factors are an ecologically destructive deforestation on a massive scale and soaring ocean acidification that’s destroying phytoplankton that generates much of the atmosphere’s oxygen.
As the oceans absorb more anthropogenic (definition: of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature) CO2, this has a severe affect on coral reefs and causes coral bleaching. The present fossil fuel acidification is much faster than natural changes and so this acid spike will be more intense than the Earth has seen in the last 800,000 years as reported by the Royal Society of UK.
From my studies, it’s of course clear that natural external climate variations – like volcanic eruptions and fluctuations in solar output – play a role. For example, the mid-century 1930-40 warming was to a significant extent caused by an increase in solar radiation. The sharp, sudden short-lived drop in global surface air temperature in 1991 was caused by the Philippine volcano, Mt. Pinatubo. A well-known example of an internal natural climate variation is El Nino. Every four years this causes a warming of the Equatorial Pacific. This happened in 1997-98 and contributed significantly to making 1998 the warmest year in the world to date.
As summarized in the 5th IPCC report: because of natural changes in the climate, ‘trends’ based on short term records are very sensitive to the beginning-and-end date. They do not in general reflect long-term climate trends. The larger trend is clearly towards warming. Each of the past three decades has been warmer than all others since 1850, and the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest.
The point is that natural fluctuations have to be set aside or ignored to correctly see the human influence on climate. As one scientist noted:
Had forecasters extrapolated the mid-century warming into the future, they would have predicted far more warming than actually occurred. Likewise, the subsequent cooling trend, if used as a basis for a long-term forecast could have erroneously supported the idea of a rapidly approaching ice age. The detection of the (human determined) anthropogenic climate direction thus requires at least the analysis of long-term records. This is because we can easily be fooled by the natural fluctuations or background noise level, and we need to understand their dynamics to better estimate the internal noise level, i.e., the anthropogenic emission of GHGs (Professor of Physics Mojib Latif of Kiel University).
IPCC scientists believe Arctic summer ice has already vanished more quickly in the past 30 years than in the previous 2000 years! Also, it may vanish completely before the middle of this century. This is the long-term trend in the face of superimposed short-term climate fluctuations like the recent 2012 Arctic ice cap increase. One climate scientist says, “The GHGs in the atmosphere will continue to accumulate for years, possibly decades, which together with the climate inertia of the climate system will support further warming.”
This is another reason IPCC scientists conclude a long-term trend towards increasing anthropogenic earth warming – made worse by positive feedbacks like the Arctic Oscillation and a potentially huge methane release in the Arctic – is a not too distant reality. For example, consider global vehicle registrations, which have increased from 250 million in 1970 to 1 billion in 2010, and are forecasted to reach 2 billion by 2020. The change to electric vehicles will not diminish GHGs as long as the electrical energy to power them is produced by power plants which burn fossil fuels.
On the positive side, Nature Geoscientist published a recent study suggesting the planet may warm more slowly than feared, perhaps buying an extra decade for more aggressive near-term actions and policies to improve energy efficiency, to rigidly limit and phase out CO2 intensive coal-fired power plants, to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and transition out of oil.
Global emissions can be slowed and reduced if we cut our GHG emissions, plant millions of trees and halt the slashing of forests, insulate homes and commercial buildings, use solar/wind for heating and cooling, use geothermal energy for vehicles, convert to bio-diverse organic agriculture, harvest phytoplankton in mass to strengthen sea-oxygen production and neutralize carbolic acid in seas. As CO2 concentrations reach 450 ppm, scientific research shows that this will result in grave harm to marine ecosystems and produce several ocean biogeochemical changes.
While a slowdown in earth warming – despite soaring CO2 emissions – may offer more time to take action on the exceptional hazards of climate change, TIME is getting TIGHTER and TIGHTER. COSTS of inaction are getting HIGHER and HIGHER. Delay will make us more dependent on vastly new technological innovations that carry the high risk of not being developed in a timely manner. We’re in an unstable climate system exposed to “forcings” from changes in solar radiation and greenhouse gases. In the words of Richard Alley, a world leading glaciologist and recognized analyst of Greenland ice cores:
“Abrupt climate change could always occur. But the existence of forcings greatly increases the number of possible mechanisms for abrupt change. And the more rapid the forcings, the more likely it is that the resulting change will be abrupt on the timescale of human economies or global ecosystems.”
Alley and most scientists agree that humanity is today pushing planetary life systems toward their limits. The “greenhouse effect” is good up to a point since without it planet Earth would be frozen. But there can be too much of a good thing. The man-made greenhouse gas effect is putting even more energy into the entire global system, and this will only increase global warming and wild weather volatility. Furthermore,this will be amplified by feedback effects. This global reach differs from natural oscillations that primarily redistribute heat.
The stakes are HIGH. Will we face the facts … or will we irresponsibly continue gambling that anthropogenic GHGs will not lead to an extensive ecological-human extinction by mid-century?
February 8, 2014, Frank Thomas, The Netherlands
Will Falk says
Thank you for this article, Frank.
The stakes are incredibly HIGH.
I don’t know how some can hear the conclusions of reports such as these and not be on the edge of despair.
It’s also insane that the health of our world is not THE PRIMARY concern in everyone’s lives.
Without a livable planet literally nothing else matters.
“Protect your land base, you can’t have sex without it.”
Bill Butler says
As per usual, Global Warming Deniers fabricate stories and invent their own “facts”.
“The recent revelation of a 60% increase in the Arctic ice cap over the last 12 months.”
is not true.
The Arctic ice cap is currently tracking 2 standard deviations below normal. http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
Despite the fantasies of Global Warming Deniers, the earth continues to warm at the rate of 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs per second – running 24/7 – including the years from 1998 to present.
Earth’s Rate Of Global Warming Is 400,000 Hiroshima Bombs A Day
Four Hiroshima bombs a second: How we imagine climate change
This measured/observed warming rate is via the Argo buoy system. http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/About_Argo.html
2005 was warmer than any previous year. Then 2010 broke the 2005 record. Data at:
NOAA/National Climate Data Center
2012 was the warmest year on record for the United States.
Sea level continues to rise due to thermal expansion and glacial melting. The current rate of sea level rise has quadrupled since the 1870 to 1924 period.
Glaciers continue to melt, and the rate of melting has accelerated since 1998.
World Glacier Monitoring Service
Ocean heating has accelerated sharply since 1998. Graph at:
Full peer reviewed paper at:
Up to date info at:
NOAA/National Oceanographic Data Center
http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/ (click on “2”)
And finally, November 2013 just set a record for the warmest November in history.
NOAA/National Climate Data Center
Frank Thomas says
Thank you for the helpful corroborative facts on Earth’s continued warming despite a short-term deviation upward in the extent and volume of Arctic ice in October 2013 vs. October 2012. As your data sources reveal, the volume of Arctic sea ice in autumn 2013 was approximately 50% higher than in the autumn of 2012. The January 2014 Artctic ice extent was 13.7 million sguare kilometers (5.3 million sq. miles) or a very high 800,000 sq. kilometers (309,000 sq. miles) LESS than the 1981 – 2010 average and 160,000 sq. kilometers (61,800 sq. miles) MORE above previous low for January 2011. Clearly, the Arctic ice cap extent continues to track well below the average of past 30 years.
The volume of Arctic sea ice in autumn 2013 was approximately 50% higher than in autumn 2012. Measurements by the European Space Agency (ESA) CryoSat show that in the early 1980s Arctic ice volume was about 20,000 cubic kilometers (4,800 cubic miles) compared to 9,000 cubic kilometers (2,200 cubic miles) Oct. 2013 vs. 6,000 cubic kilometers (1,400 cubic miles) Oct. 2012.
But this does not mean the dramatic Arctic ocean ice meltdown the last 30 years is now suddenly on a long-term reversal, as climate Deniers are quick to proselytize. As noted, the higher Oct. 2013 ice volume level is still among the LOWEST of the past 30 years and is due to natural variability. Among other things, it is attributed to a negative Arctic Oscillation (natural swirling of winds around the Arctic) … where there’s a weakening of air pressure in early winter that in turn weakens prevailing westerly winds, resulting in their spreading less heat from the warm oceans to the land.
It should be noted that the Arctic Oscillation has been in a strongly positive mode the last 35 years — meaning stronger air pressure differences and hence much stronger winds spreading more heat from warm oceans — all contributing to a sustained long period of amplifying warming of the Northern Polar region the last three decades. That also explains partly why the Arctic (and Antarctic) have seen air temperatures rise by more than 5 degrees F since the 1960s. And the ultimate core driver of this
“extra warming” is GHGs.
” an extensive ecological-human extinction by mid-century?”
People being what they are, I predict this will be the obvious solution to climate change.
Frank Thomas says
To clarify, we are in a long-term steady warming-up of Earth trend because the planet is building up heat at an accelerated pace the last 40 years — despite surface temperatures going up and down from year-to-year (reflected in last year’s sudden Arctic ice cap extent and ice volume increases). And as noted in July 1, 2013 issue of Skeptical Science , the current “pause” in Earth temperatures actually shows an apparent 40% GREATER linear trend in Earth warming over last 17 years than over the linear trend from 1901 to 2000!
Climate researcher Kevin Trenberth’s definition of climate change and Dr. Drew Shindell’s research (at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies) get to the essence of why all climate models show “pauses” in increasing surface temperatures occurring against a background of an ongoing constant rise in global warming. It’s all about an imbalance in radiation coming to Earth and infrared radiation being reflected into space.
In short, the Earth is radiating less heat back into space. But we know the surface temperature has been warming up, so the Earth should be radiating more to space, not less. To repeat: what’s happening is that the Earth is absorbing more sunlight while less infrared radiation is being radiated back into space. So something is stopping more of the Earth’s radiation from reaching space. And that ‘something’ is the
All research models show that the sun is NOT the cause. The sun’s heat output has been rather constant since the mid-70s. Also, scientific evidence confirms that more Earth warming is NOT occurring when the sun is shining daily or in the summers. Whatever is warming the Earth (i.e., building up heat the past 30-40 years) is doing so day and night. That means the sun is not the primary cause.
While Dr. Drew Shindell’s research found a reasonable correlation between the Earth’s temperature and solar output for the first half of the 20th century, over the last three decades global temperatures have risen markedly while average solar output has actually DECLINED! In Shindell’s words, “Although solar variability does impact surface climate indirectly, it was almost certainly NOT responsible for most of the rapid warming seen over the past 30 (plus) years. For that period, it’s clear that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are the primary driver.”
For a shocking “VISUAL” graphical picture of the constant upward trend in Earth warming contrasted with the up and down variability of temperatures, go the Bill Butler’s reference noted above: http://www.skepticalscience.com/4-Hiroshima-bombs-worth-of-heat-per-second.html
“While Dr. Drew Shindell’s research found a reasonable correlation between the Earth’s temperature and solar output for the first half of the 20th century, over the last three decades global temperatures have risen markedly while average solar output has actually DECLINED! In Shindell’s words, “Although solar variability does impact surface climate indirectly, it was almost certainly NOT responsible for most of the rapid warming seen over the past 30 (plus) years. For that period, it’s clear that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are the primary driver.””
If you take a look at this chart of solar activity from the time when they began to count sunspots:
It reveals the highest level of solar output happened during the cycle around 1960. the next cycle saw a sharp decline, but the next two. around 1980 and 1989, while a bit below the peak of 1960, were the second and third highest peaks of solar output over the entire 400 year period.
Significantly, over the 400 year average, solar output was by far at its highest in the period of 1950-2000.
However I’m not using this as a rebuttal, but to confirm this:
” For that period, it’s clear that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are the primary driver.””
And we can see this because of the enormous loss of ice in the polar regions. This is often ignored in these equations. The ice melts, releasing methane gas, which causes a residual effect from the previous unprecedented solar output. We’re looking at rising CO2 levels as driving the warming, yet it’s also true that warming drives up CO2 levels.
“over the last three decades global temperatures have risen markedly while average solar output has actually DECLINED! ”
Decreased? Yes, from the extreme peak we saw in 1960 or so.
However it’s not scientific nor statistically logical to look at data since 1960 and extrapolate that and apply it to an analysis of temperatures over hundreds of years.
What was the solar output in those 30 years as compared to the 400 year period?
That period contained the second, third, and fifth highest output cycles. Against solar output averaged over 400 years it was still much higher- so we should never have expected COOLING trends after the post 1960 peak, we should still expect the sun to be forcing warming – just a little less than we saw in 1960.
Once we take into account the methane gas release, this easily explains why we would observe continued warming trends through the end of the 20th century, and beyond.
Frank Thomas says
Regarding the sun’s historical influence on climate, there seems to be broad scientific consensus on following:
— Prior to Industrial Revolution, climate changes resulted from natural causes such as changes in solar energy, volcanic eruptions, and natural changes in GHG emissions. Latter were often low in 160 -240 ppm range for very long periods and seldom in 240-280 ppm range — meaning that slight variations in solar output more often that not caused extremely lengthy periods of ultra-cold temperatures.
— In pre-industrial times, CO2 levels were generally higher in warm ‘interglacial’ periods and much lower during cool ‘glacial’ periods. The reason is that a heating or cooling of the Earth’s surface can change GHG concentrations. Such changes often increase existing temperatures changes in a feedback process.
— Over last 650,000 years, 7 cycles of ‘glacial’ advance ended about 7,000 years ago, the start of human civilization. Climate changes over this period were largely caused by small variations in the Earth’s orbit that changed the amount of energy reaching the planet.
— The “Little Ice Age” between the 17th and 19th century centuries is believed to have been caused from low solar activity in combination with cooler temperatures that were likely intensified by low GHGs levels.
— Most experts concluded that warming from the 1880s – 1940s had come when solar activity was increasing while CO2 buildup had not yet been large enough to make any difference. So at least a part of the 20th century’s warming was driven by the sun.
— Cooling returned during the 1950s to begin 1960s correlating somewhat with changes in solar activity although this is not certain. The temporray cooling was also partly caused by volcanic eruptions, aerosols, etc. For 200 years prior to 1960, there had been a strong correlation between solar activity and weather.
— In the 1960s, the rise in solar activity since the 19th century came to a halt. Still, Earth warming picked up speed considerably in the 1990 – 2013 period during which period solar activity has been weak. Scientists generally agree that less than 30% of the strong warming since the 19703 has cone from solar activity.
In 2007, one scientific group reported that, “Over the past 20 years all trends in the sun that could have an influence on Earth’s climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global temperatures.” Very advanced computer models have also shown that GHGs have clearly taken over the sunspot cycle’s influence on climate.
The new climate world is dominated by human-caused forcings: GHGs, aerosols, deforestation, etc. For example, volcanoes emit between 130-230 million tons of CO2 per year compared to burning fossil fuels which releases 135 times more CO2 or about 35 billion tons in 2013. GHGs like CO2 and CH4 absorb energy, slowing or preventing the loss of heat into space … making Earth warmer than it would otherwise be.
“– Cooling returned during the 1950s to begin 1960s correlating somewhat with changes in solar activity although this is not certain. The temporray cooling was also partly caused by volcanic eruptions, aerosols, etc. For 200 years prior to 1960, there had been a strong correlation between solar activity and weather.
— In the 1960s, the rise in solar activity since the 19th century came to a halt.”
Doesn’t this contradict the data seen in NASA’s solar activity chart?
Frank Thomas says
There was a temporary cooling in the 1950s and 1960s as solar activity came almost to a stop. But how far the resumption to warming in the 1960s was due to a change in solar activity remains speculative. Crucial question has been whether a fall or rise in solar activity could explain the global cooling or warming changes seen in the 20th century. The apparent scientific consensus now is that minor solar variations may have partly been responsible for some past fluctuations, but warming from GHG emissions since the 1970s far outweigh solar effects. NASA also concludes that natural processes such as changes in the sun’s energy, shifts in ocean currents, volcanoes do not explain the warming-up of Earth observed the last 40 years.
As one expert commented, “It was a stroke of good luck that the pace of solar activity since the 19th century halted in the 1960s. Otherwise, global temperatures might have climbed faster making it more difficult to identify GHGs as the cause of global warming.” Scientific evidence also shows that any variations in the energy radiated during a sunspot cycle have a very temporary short-term effect on weather changes, not a long-term effect.
“There was a temporary cooling in the 1950s and 1960s as solar activity came almost to a stop. ”
On this entire chart, what year would you say represents the highest point of solar activity:
Is it not the cycle that peaks in appx. 1959-60?
How could you have gotten this fact so wrong?
” The apparent scientific consensus now is that minor solar variations may have partly been responsible for some past fluctuations, ”
I don’t think a cycle of solar activity which is the largest in a 400 year period could be called “minor”. We accept that the Maunder minimum caused a little ice age, why are we ruling out conversely an unprecedented peak could cause significant warming?
“but warming from GHG emissions since the 1970s far outweigh solar effects.”
I agree and I don’t. First off even though the cycle after the peak of 1960 did recede, the following cycles were the second, third and fourth highest of the 400 year period.
Point: The sun was still forcing warming (as opposed to its average output over 400 years) during the entire latter half of the 20th century.
We have no other period of such unprecedented solar activity in recorded history as we do between 1960-2000 to compare effects from.
I agree 100% it’s a greenhouse gas responsible for the residual long term warming.
It was Methane.
Frank Thomas says
Leif Svalgaard, solar physicist at Stanford University of California, made some important corrections to significant past inconsistences in the sunspot numbers and hence the sun’s activity and effect on climate change. His corrections indicate the sun’s activity has been relatively stable the past few centuries since the Maunder minimum — a period of exceptionally low solar activity before 1,700. This supports current thinking that the sun is not in an unusual active phase and is at best a very minimal driver of warming today.
However, this favorable trend is more than offset GHG global warming as well as by Dr. Drew Shindell’s recent discovery that rising GHG concentrations generate changes in the stratosphere that produce a positive stratospheric feedback … driving up temperatures in the polar regions and midlatitudes — not to exclude increasing the risk of ozone depletion (and zone holes), all allowing more of the sun’s rays to directly penetrate Mother Earth.
But is just another factor in a story illustrating what extremely, dangerously environmental times we are in!
Frank Thomas says
The above data is an atttempt to explain in plain English to the non-scientific SDFP reader the role of the sun in contributing to weather change, particularly over the last century. To a technical reader as your good self, I may not have gone into sufficient detail on some facts. I certainly agree with you that there has been a strong correlation
between the sun’s activity and weather for at least 200 years prior to 1960. And I also didn’t mean to imply that the sun’s impact “stopped” completely after a record peak cycle in 1959-60. “Stopped’ was not the right verb as it wrongly suggests climate warming has stopped.
My focus is to counter the Deniers claim that climate warming has stopped because the rate of increase in surface temperatures has slowed down. But, other evidence indicates the opposite trend is more true when the rise in Arctic temperatures are taken into consideration. I’m saying the evidence is clear that — despite the peaking of sun activity in 1960 — the average surface temperature of the last 15 years seems to have slowed. BUT, the Earth warming has still been on an upward trend in sync with the accelerated increases in yearly CO2 ppm concentrations the past two-three decades — especially in recent years.
In explaining why this is so, it does help to think in heat energy terms rather surface temperature. There are a number of reasons why scientists say the planet is warming long-term while the surface temperature has plateaued. These include: the sun has been dimmer so less heat is arriving; sulpher aerosols entering the atmosphere have increased; there have been a number of small volcanic eruptions, a series of long-lasting cold La Ninas in the Pacific, etc. The IPCC 5th report says that half of the surface temperature slowdown is due to the oceans and the half to vocanic aerosols and the sun. Other scientists believe that since 1971 a much, much higher 94% of the heat energy entering the planet has gone into the oceans which cover 70% of the planet.Some of that ocean heat will reenter the atmosphere and could cause rapid warming.
Another potentially dangerous natural feedback from the warming-up of ocean surfaces is that stronger polar winds and speeds have arisen over the oceans. This could be driving stronger vertical ocean currents and more heat into greater water depths. The explosive danger I see here is an accelerated melting of methane clathrates stored beneath the Siberian permafrost and Barents Sea, thus potentially liberating billions of tons of highly toxic methane into the atmosphere. Methane release is already on the rise, granted on a much smaller scale, stemming from the feverish ‘fracking’ activity going on in America now.
I have written much about the Artcic methane release threat. It is becoming a greater possibility every day as oceans absorb more and more CO2 in addition to all the related known feedbacks that add significantly to Earth’s warming. And the obvious underlying driver is growing CO2 and CH4 emissions.
No one’s perfect in explaining cause and effect of what’s happening. There are still uncertainties. The physics and chemistry of climate change mechanisms are very complex and interrelated. Keeping the explanations simple is a challenge. But that surface temperatures and total heat energy content trapped in the atmosphere could pick up is extremely likely as rising global spewing of +35 billion tons of CO2 annually into the atmosphere continues.
For an informative readable technical overview covering the theme that global warming has not peaked, I would suggest, “The Heat Is Still On,” The New Scientist, Dec. 7, 2013. This article’s conclusions, among those of other more detailed research papers examined, are generally credible in my view.