DURHAM, N.C. -
Researchers at Duke University say global warming in not progressing as fast as it would under the most severe scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Looking at 1,000 years of temperature records, researchers found that natural variability in surface temperatures over the course of just a decade can account for increases and dips in warming rates. Researchers said that variability could be caused by interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, or other natural factors.
As such, they say trends over just a 10-year period do not show much about long-term warming the Earth can expect to experience over a 100-year period.
"If that message gets out, then I think there would be less back and forth arguing about these short-term temperature trends because it doesn't really matter that much scientifically," explained Patrick Brown, a doctoral student in climatology at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment.
Brown, as well as Wenhong Li, assistant professor of climate at Duke, found that the Earth is looking at IPCC's more of a middle-of-the-road warming solution and not the fastest-tract prediction.
"That matches up well with what we're seeing," Brown said.
Li, though said, there is no guarantee the rate of warming will remain steady.
"Our analysis clearly shows that we shouldn't expect the observed rates of warming to be constant," Li said. "They can and do change."
The study, "Comparing the Model-Simulated Global Warming Signal to Observations Using Empirical Estimates of Unforced Noise," was published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.