Hotter times are coming: Effect of El Niño or renewed warming?

Researchers predict rapid warming over the next couple years, matching record-breaking recent months.

Joel Rosenbaum/The Vacaville Reporter/AP
Vacaville High School football player Jake Levengood cools off during a break in football practice Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Vacaville, Calif.
These false-color images provided by NASA satellites compare warm Pacific Ocean water temperatures from the strong El Nino that brought North America large amounts of rainfall in 1997, left, and the current El Nino as of Aug. 5, 2015, right. Warmer ocean water that normally stays in the western Pacific, shown as lighter orange, red and white areas, moves east along the equator toward the Americas. Forecasters say this El Nino is already the second strongest on record for this time of year and could be one of the most potent weather changers in 65 years.

The global warming “pause” may be over, and things are heating up. 

Record high temperatures are likely to continue and warming rates are increasing, according to a report released Monday from Met Office, a British government agency that studies global weather.

"Although we can't say for sure that the slowdown in global warming is over, global temperatures are now rising again,” said study author Adam Scaife in a news release.

This year has already seen record-breaking heat. June 2015 was the hottest June on record and that’s consistent with the 12-months leading up to it. That period bests records as well.

Warming is only going to continue, according to researchers, with 2015 and 2016 continuing to threaten temperature records.

"We know natural patterns contribute to global temperature in any given year, but the very warm temperatures so far this year indicate the continued impact of increasing greenhouse gases,” said Stephen Belcher, head of the Met Office's Hadley Centre in a statement. “With the potential that next year could be similarly warm, it's clear that our climate continues to change."

The heat may be undeniable and may be part of the conditions resulting from El Niño, a weather event that causes sea surface temperatures to rise.

El Niño conditions often mean drier times in parts of Asia, Australia, southern and sub-Saharan North Africa, and Central America. However, it does bring wetter weather to parts of East Africa and the southern United States. 

While El Niño could bring relief for wildfires in the western US, the weather pattern is characterized by extreme, damaging weather. 

And El Niño is likely to last longer this time around, predicted to carry into spring.

Furthermore, researchers reported in 2014 that El Niño events are increasing in frequency with climate change due to greenhouse gases. 

With added frequency, intensity and duration of El Niño events, it’s no surprise Met Office researchers claim the global warming “pause,” or slowdown,  is over.

"We can't be sure this is the end of the slowdown but decadal warming rates are likely to reach late 20th century levels within two years,” said Professor Scaife.

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