Sunday, December 28, 2014

Five Bits of Research that Shaped Climate Science in 2014

Climate science never stops developing.  Over the course of the year we've covered a myriad of scientific studies, some of which have made the news, and others which have been more quietly received.  Here's our pick of the papers that have shaped scientific discussion about climate change in 2014.
  1. Pacific winds drive surface warming slowdown
    In February, a paper by Matthew England and colleagues helped shed light on why surface temperatures have risen more slowly over the last 15 years or so than in previous decades, even though we're emitting greenhouse gases faster than ever before.
  2. West Antarctic glaciers show signs of collapsing
    A paper by Ian Joughin and colleagues in May suggested the chain of events leading to collapse may already be underway.  It won't be quick - probably taking several centuries.  But beyond a certain point, the process is likely to be unstoppable, the scientists warned.
  3. Antarctic sea ice measurements hit record high
    On Sept. 19, 2014, the five-day average of Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 20 million square kilometers for the first time since 1979. The red line shows the average maximum extent from 1979-2014. (Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Cindy Starr)  Click to Enlarge.
    Scientists say changes in local wind patterns and ocean circulation are the most likely candidates, delivering cold water to the surface which then freezes.

    But a paper back in July by Ian Eisenmann and colleagues suggested there may be another explanation - a change in the way measurements are made, rather than in the sea ice itself.
  4. The link between Arctic sea-ice loss and extreme winters got a bit stronger.  Maybe
    Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing almost twice as fast as the global average - a phenomenon known as Arctic Amplification.

    A paper published in October by Masato Mori and colleagues was the latest in a series linking rapidly increasing temperatures in the Arctic to very cold winters in the northern hemisphere.
  5. Record summer heatwaves are ten times more likely with climate change
    Climate change is raising the odds of summer heatwaves in Europe by a factor of 10, according to research from the Met Office.  Over the past 10 to 15 years, the likelihood of a 'very hot' summer has risen - from once every 50 years to once every five years.
Read more at Five Bits of Research that Shaped Climate Science in 2014

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