Figures point to global warming: Temperature measurements show this year is set to be the sixth-hottest on record. Steve Connor reports
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Wednesday 22 December 1993
This year will be among the top 10 warmest on record, despite the continued cooling caused by the 1991 eruption of the Mount Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines, which resulted in a dramatic but temporary decrease in world temperatures.
Scientists believe the latest figures demonstrate a continued increase in warming resulting from a worldwide change in climate. David Bennetts, research coordinator at the Meteorological Office's Hadley Centre in Bracknell, Berkshire, said: 'Climate change is happening, the question is whether it's man-made or not.'
The latest temperature measurements for 1993 indicate it is going to be the sixth warmest year on record - 0.27C warmer than the average temperature for the years 1951 to 1980. Last year was 0.19C warmer than the average and 1990 - the warmest year ever - was almost 0.4C above the 1951-1980 average.
Climate researchers believe that debris released into the atmosphere by Mount Pinatubo caused a decrease in average temperatures of about 0.2C, briefly off-setting a general increase in warming during the 1980s.
They believe the cooling effect of the volcano has begun to wear off and caused only a temporary blip in the overall upwards trend. 'We believe there is a general global warming and that on top of that there is a natural variability. The nub of the problem is that we cannot yet prove that it's caused by man-made greenhouse gases,' Dr Bennetts said.
Dr Phil Jones, a senior researcher at the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, said that even with Pinatubo the world is set to become half a degree warmer by the end of the century. 'It still doesn't prove we've got an enhanced greenhouse effect caused by man-made pollutants but it certainly says we can't deny the possibility.' Dr Jones said readings for this year show global warming has 'bounced back from 1992'.
The Department of the Environment yesterday announced it had approved the funding of an pounds 18m satellite instrument to monitor sea- surface temperatures early next century to make more accurate measurements of global warming.
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