Global warming temporarily halted over the past decade instead of an apparent increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a new study, Scientists claim that sulphur emissions from China’s coal-fired power stations are blocking sunlight and having a cooling effect on the atmosphere.
Burning coal releases carbon dioxide and sulfur particles. Carbon dioxide traps heat from the Sun, raising temperatures. Sulfur particles in the air deflect the sun’s rays and can temporarily cool things down a bit.
During the Chinese economic expansion there was a huge increase in sulphur emissions, Dr Robert Kaufmann, of Boston University, told the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Daily Mail reported.
Chinese coal consumption to produce power jumped to double between 2002 and 2007, which is an increase of around 26 percent in global coal consumption.
However, scientists warn that cooling effect is only temporary and rapid warming is likely to resume once the short-lived sulphur pollution is cleaned up, while the carbon dioxide from coal burning stays in Earth’s atmosphere for a long time.
The impact of the sulphur emissions has combined with a cooler stage of the sun's cycle and a change from the El Nino to the La Nina weather system in the South Atlantic has kept temperatures artificially low, the experts argued, Telegraph reported.
The Sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle of changing activity. From a peak in 2000, solar activity fell steadily to a low in 2007, so it sent less radiation our way.
The sun is most likely going into hibernation as the latest unusual solar readings, including fading sunspots and weakening magnetic activity near the poles suggest that we are headed towards a solar event that hasn't happened in hundreds of years.
Meanwhile, according to a new study from the University of Arizona that appeared in Nature Geoscience showed that the melting of the polar caps is worse than previously thought. The Gulf Stream sends warmer waters towards the North Pole while the Antarctic Circumpolar Current blocks some of the warm waters from reaching the South Pole, hence the temperature discrepancy.
As a result of the warming ocean, the sea level could rise by 3 feet by 2100 and much more in subsequent centuries, estimated the study.
The melting of ice sitting on water will not raise the sea level because water is actually denser than ice (that's why ice floats and takes up more space than water).
However, the problem is that global warming is melting ice that's sitting on the land of Greenland and Antarctica; the releasing of the grounded ice adds additional water to the oceans, thus raising the sea level.