Parts of North America and Europe may cool naturally over the next decade, as shifting ocean currents temporarily blunt the global-warming effect caused by mankind, Germany’s Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences said.
Average temperatures in areas such as California and France may drop over the next 10 years, influenced by colder flows in the North Atlantic, said a report today by the institution based in Kiel, Germany. Temperatures worldwide may stabilize in the period.
The study was based on sea-surface temperatures of currents that move heat around the world, and vary from decade to decade. This regional cooling effect may temporarily neutralize the long- term warming phenomenon caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases building up around the earth, said Richard Wood, a research scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre, a U.K. provider of environmental and weather-related services.
“Those natural climate variations could be stronger than the global-warming trend over the next 10-year period,” Wood said in an interview. “Without knowing that, you might erroneously think there’s no global warming going on.”
The Leibniz study, co-written by Noel Keenlyside, a research scientist at the institute, will be published in the May 1 issue of the journal Nature.
“If we don’t experience warming over the next 10 years, it doesn’t mean that greenhouse-gas warming is not with us,” Keenlyside said in an interview. “There can be natural fluctuations that may mask climate change in the short term.”