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There was no pause

Filed under: — rasmus @ 22 January 2017

I think that the idea of a pause in the global warming has been a red herring ever since it was suggested, and we have commented on this several times here on RC: On how data gaps in some regions (eg. the Arctic) may explain an underestimation of the recent warming. We have also explained how natural oscillations may give the impression of a faux pause. Now, when we know the the global mean temperature for 2016, it’s even more obvious.

Easterling and Wehner (2009) explained that it is not surprising to see some brief periods with an apparent decrease in a temperature record that increases in jumps and spurts, and Foster and Rahmstorf (2012) showed in a later paper how temperature data from the most important observations show consistent global warming trends when known short-term influences such as El Niño Southern oscillation (ENSO), volcanic aerosols and solar variability are accounted for.

A recent paper by Hausfather et al. (2017) adds little new to our understanding, although it confirms that there has not been a recent “hiatus” in the global warming. However, if there are doubts about a physical condition, then further scientific research is our best option for establishing the facts. This is exactly what this recent study did.

The latest findings confirm the results of Karl et al. 2015 from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which Gavin described in a previous post here on RC. The NOAA analysis received unusual attention because of the harassment it drew from the chair of the US House Science Committee and the subpoena demand for emails.

Science is convincing because it builds on independent assessments, which either confirm or disagree with previous findings. A scientific consensus is established when many independent lines of evidence underpin the same conclusions.

It is important to realize that science is about universal truths, which means that you should get a consistent picture in a comprehensive analysis. The idea of a hiatus was indeed inconsistent with other indicators, such as the global sea level which continued to rise unabated (Watson et al, 2015). And there was no reason to think that changes in the cryosphere and precipitation had ceased either.

More than 70% of earth’s area is oceans, and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) carry a large weight in the global mean surface temperature estimates. Karl et al. (2015) reported a cold bias in recent SSTs due to changing observing network. This bias gave the false appearance of a slow-down in the warming of the oceans, and by taking into account artifacts from a change in the observing network, Karl et al found a more pronounced warming in the recent decade. Hausfather et al. (2017) studied these more closely, and their findings confirmed the NOAA analysis.

Rising levels of CO2 may not only result in a global mean surface warming, but it is also possible that it accelerates the turnaround of the hydrological cycle (Benestad, 2016). So even a hypothetical period could take place with a reduced warming rate, but it would be accompanied with an accelerated atmospheric vertical overturning.


  1. D.R. Easterling, and M.F. Wehner, "Is the climate warming or cooling?", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 36, 2009.
  2. G. Foster, and S. Rahmstorf, "Global temperature evolution 1979–2010", Environmental Research Letters, vol. 6, pp. 044022, 2011.
  3. Z. Hausfather, K. Cowtan, D.C. Clarke, P. Jacobs, M. Richardson, and R. Rohde, "Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature records", Science Advances, vol. 3, pp. e1601207, 2017.
  4. T.R. Karl, A. Arguez, B. Huang, J.H. Lawrimore, J.R. McMahon, M.J. Menne, T.C. Peterson, R.S. Vose, and H. Zhang, "Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus", Science, vol. 348, pp. 1469-1472, 2015.
  5. C.S. Watson, N.J. White, J.A. Church, M.A. King, R.J. Burgette, and B. Legresy, "Unabated global mean sea-level rise over the satellite altimeter era", Nature Climate Change, vol. 5, pp. 565-568, 2015.
  6. R.E. Benestad, "A mental picture of the greenhouse effect", Theoretical and Applied Climatology, vol. 128, pp. 679-688, 2016.

156 Responses to “There was no pause”

  1. 151
    Chris O'Neill says:

    #149 Titus:

    It was symbolic/allegorical in talking about the ‘outlier 1998’ and showing an ‘increase’ as applied to the subject of the ‘pause’.

    It was applied to the subject of a non-existent pause, not a ‘pause’.

    I call that misleading.

    OK just to make you happy Titus I will replace Ezequiel’s numbers in his statement to satisfy your obsession:

    A series like 1, 10, -2, -2, 5, 9, 9, 5, 13, 9 is increasing. 1998 being such an outlier is an artifact of …

    You can call that series misleading now. Just like some people think Mann’s 1999 hockey stick “misleads” them into believing the truth. When you’re self-delusional like global warming denialists Titus, you just can’t help yourself being “misled”.

  2. 152
    Titus says:

    @151 Chris O’Neill says: “A series like 1, 10, -2, -2, 5, 9, 9, 5, 13, 9 is increasing”

    Wow. Now I understand. You will remember that you previously cast scorn on my cognitive abilities, however, this sequence totally gels with my understanding of climate being a non-linear chaotic system. Way to go Chris, brilliantly presented.

    So, from your comment, it now looks I have moved in your estimation from a ‘poor delusional fool’ to just ‘self-delusional’. I call that progress.

    Cheers Chris………..

  3. 153
    Chris O'Neill says:

    #152: I have moved in your estimation

    No, It’s just tedious stating all your faults all the time.

  4. 154
    Titus says:

    @153 Chris O’Neill says: “It’s just tedious stating all your faults all the time”

    Chris, let me introduce you to ‘copy and paste’. Taking your previous remarks about me you type the following and store on say desktop:

    “Climate science is completely beyond your cognition Titus, you poor delusional fool of a denialist”

    Then when you finish making your profound enlightened comment you copy and paste like so:

    On behalf of Chris to Titus: Climate science is completely beyond your cognition Titus, you poor delusional fool of a denialist

    See, easy. I only typed it once. Hope it helps……….

  5. 155
    Chris O'Neill says:

    Titus, climate science is completely beyond your cognition Titus, you poor delusional fool of a denialist.

    BTW, I don’t clutter up my desktop for a poor delusional fool of a denialist. Not necessary when they provide the material.

    BTW2, anyone who thinks 10 years of global temperature anomaly even demonstrates that climate is chaotic is simply showing what rubbish their understanding of climate is. But rubbish understanding is what we expect from a poor delusional fool of a denialist for whom climate science is completely beyond their cognition.

  6. 156
    Mike Flynn says:

    Chris O’Neill,

    Gavin once believed that the climate did not behave chaotically. Maybe reading the IPCC reports changed his mind.

    In any case, he might appreciate being offered a job as a climate scientist. Do you know of any vacancies? Or might he better off applying to join NASA as an undistinguished mathematician?

    I know the opera isn’t finished until the fat lady stops singing, but I think it’s well into the last act. Maybe Government scientists could show their defiance by refusing to accept their meagre salaries, and keep sciencing on at their own expense!

    Good idea?


  7. 157
    Titus says:

    155 Chris O’Neill.

    I see the copy and paste worked well for you. You even took the next step which I was going to teach you of using partial copy and paste to make it more pertinent.

    So now your all set. Looking forward to receiving future comments.

    Well done Chris!! I hope that didn’t exhaust the cognitive abilities of your planet sized brain.