"Next decade 'may see no warming'
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website
The Earth's temperature may stay roughly the same for a decade, as natural climate cycles enter a cooling phase, scientists have predicted.
A new computer model developed by German researchers, reported in the journal Nature, suggests the cooling will counter greenhouse warming.
However, temperatures will again be rising quickly by about 2020, they say.
Other climate scientists have welcomed the research, saying it may help societies plan better for the future.
"We've always known that the climate varies naturally from year to year and decade to decade," said Richard Wood from the UK's Hadley Centre, who reviewed the new research for Nature.
"We expect man-made global warming to be superimposed on those natural variations; and this kind of research is important to make sure we don't get distracted from the longer term changes that will happen in the climate (as a result of greenhouse gas emissions)."
Dr Wood cautions that this kind of modelling is in its infancy; and once data can be brought directly from the Atlantic depths, that may change the view of how the AMO works and what it means for the global climate.
As with the unusually cold weather seen recently in much of the northern hemisphere - linked to La Nina conditions - he emphasises that even if the Kiel model proves correct, it is not an indication that the longer-term climate projections of the IPCC and many other institutions are wrong.
Michael Schlesinger, the US scientist who characterised the AMO in 1994, described the new model as "very exciting".
"No doubt we need to have more data from the deep ocean, and we don't have that at present," the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researcher told BBC News.
"But imagine the payoff of knowing with some certainty what the next 10 years hold in terms of temperature and precipitation - the economic impacts of that would be significant." "
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Published: 2008/05/01 03:11:00 GMT
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