Imagine it is 2031, and the IPCC is preparing to release its 8th Assessment Report. How does the recent slowdown in global mean surface temperature rise look? As this largely depends on how fast the climate warms from 2014 onwards, we can explore a range of possibilities.
One rather specific example is to consider how a figure showing decadal averages of global temperature (like IPCC AR5 Fig. 1a) might look.
A range of future possibilities are shown for post-2013, including a cooling (grey), no change (green), and warming rates of +0.1K/decade (blue), +0.25K/decade (orange) and +0.4K/decade (red). The IPCC AR5 likely (>66% probability) assessment for global temperatures until 2035 is roughly equivalent to a range of +0.1 to +0.4K/decade.
Whatever warming rate we see in future, there will be a ‘kink’ in this decadal averages example due to the slowdown. So, we may continue to see that the most recent decade is the warmest since 1850, but that does not necessarily mean there has not been a temporary slowdown, as some have appeared to suggest.
But, the key question is: will there be a subsequent global temperature ‘surge’?
Thanks to Doug McNeall who suggested making this figure, and to John Kennedy for useful discussions. In the comments, Barry Woods suggested adding the cooling lines.