UK Met Office: World temperature back down to 1997 level
Global warming still definitely on, though
The UK's Met Office has unveiled preliminary figures showing that according to its global temperature database, worldwide temperatures this year have descended to the levels seen in 1997. However Met Office researchers insist that dangerous global warming is still very much underway.
According to the Met Office supervised HadCRUT3 data, worldwide average temperatures this year are provisionally set to come in at 14.36°C, the same as 1997. Every year since then has been higher except 1999, 2000 and 2008. Global temperatures reached their highest ever peak in 1998, according to the HadCRUT dataset, at 14.52°C. Since 2001 temperatures from 14.42°C to 14.5°C have been seen, but now the HadCRUT3 is looking as though it's back down to levels which have been almost unseen in the past decade.
According to Peter Stott, Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution*, the noticeable drop in global temperatures seen since last year is the result of temporary circulation patterns in the Pacific.
"This year we have seen a very persistent and strong La Niña, which brings cooler water to the surface of the Pacific Ocean," he says. "This has a global impact on weather and temperatures, and is one of the key reasons why this year does not figure as highly as 2010 in the rankings."
Reluctantly famous climate scientist Phil Jones, at the centre of renewed "ClimateGate" controversy following a new release of apparently hacked emails to and from his university, is also involved in curating the HadCRUT3 data.
"The HadCRUT3 record, supported by the other records, is one indicator amongst several which provide overwhelming evidence that the climate has warmed," he says in the Met Office statement  announcing the preliminary numbers.
The projected figures are being announced as a world climate summit meets under UN auspices in Durban, South Africa, to debate measures against climate change. The HadCRUT3 data is one of three main datasets used by climate scientists, including those of the UN World Meteorological Organisation, to analyse the planetary climate. ®
*It is Mr Stott's job to attribute climate change to man-made and natural causes. The Met Office says he is an expert  in doing this.