Quantcast

NOAA: There Has Been No 'Pause' or 'Hiatus' in Global Warming

Climate

Just out in Science is a new article by Tom Karl of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and colleagues driving another stake through the heart of the supposed “hiatus” or “pause,” i.e. what I like to call the “Faux Pause.”

I expect this article will be attacked by climate change deniers who are unhappy to see the demise of a narrative they helped frame, a narrative that arguably took hold due in part to the “seepage” of contrarian framing into mainstream climate science discourse.

To the extent this latest study adds yet another nail to the “warming pause”/“warming hiatus” coffin, I feel it is a useful contribution to the literature and to the larger discourse over human-caused climate change.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Because the discussion of this matter has become so confused and misleading, it is worth clarifying what there is and is not evidence for. As I have commented numerous times before, there never was any "pause" or "hiatus" in global warming. There is evidence, however, for a modest, temporary slowdown in surface warming through the early part of this decade.

As my colleagues and I discussed in our own article in Science earlier this year (see my commentary at ‪#‎RealClimate‬ about the article), that slowdown appears to have been tied to an interdecadal period (through at least 2012) of more La Nina like conditions, stronger trade winds in the Pacific and greater burial of heat beneath the ocean surface.

Does the new article contradict evidence for the slowdown? Upon closer inspection, the answer seems to be no. The authors include the post-slowdown years of 2013 and 2014 which (particularly with 2014) have been warmed by a transition to more El Nino-like conditions.

It is also worth noting that the authors compare recent warming to a baseline warming trend over the latter half of the 20th century. Yet that combines an interval (1950s-1970s) of little or no warming (due primarily to the cooling effect of industry-generated sulphate aerosol pollutants) with a post-Clean Air Act interval (late 1970s-2000) where greenhouse warming dominated.

That late 20th century interval is arguably the more relevant period for comparison, and relative to that period, there was indeed a subsequent short-term slowdown. The temporary slowdown is an interesting feature in its own right as it is relevant to the matter of decadal climate forecasting. But it never contradicted the unabated nature of human-caused warming.

To the extent this latest study adds yet another nail to the “warming pause”/“warming hiatus” coffin, I feel it is a useful contribution to the literature and to the larger discourse over human-caused climate change.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

India Minister: Climate Change to Blame for 5th Deadliest Heat Wave in World History

Santorum to Pope Francis: Police Bedrooms Not Climate Issues

We Could Power Entire World on Renewables by 2025, Says Global Apollo Program

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new study shows that half of all Arctic warming and corresponding sea-loss during the late 20th century was caused by ozone-depleting substances. Here, icebergs discharged from Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier. Kevin Krajick / Earth Institute / EurekAlert!

The world awakened to the hole in the ozone layer in 1985, which scientists attributed it to ozone depleting substances. Two years later, in Montreal, the world agreed to ban the halogen compounds causing the massive hole over Antarctica. Research now shows that those chemicals didn't just cut a hole in the ozone layer, they also warmed up the Arctic.

Read More
Diane Wilson holds up a bag full of nurdles she collected from one of Formosa's outfall areas on Jan. 15. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog

By Julie Dermansky

On the afternoon of Jan. 15, activist Diane Wilson kicked off a San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper meeting on the side of the road across from a Formosa plastics manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas.

After Wilson and the waterkeeper successfully sued Formosa, the company agreed to no longer release even one of the tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles into the region's waterways. The group of volunteers had assembled that day to check whether the plant was still discharging these raw materials of plastics manufacturing.

Read More
Sponsored

By Simon Coghlan and Kobi Leins

A remarkable combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and biology has produced the world's first "living robots."

Read More
Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin (front 2nd L) and officials inspect a container containing plastic waste shipment on Jan. 20, 2020 before sending back to the countries of origin. AFP via Getty Images

The Southeast Asian country Malaysia has sent 150 shipping containers packed with plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries, putting the world on notice that it will not be the world's garbage dump, as CNN reported. The countries receiving their trash back include the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.

Read More
Trump leaves after delivering a speech at the Congress Centre during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 21, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed the concerns of environmental activists as "pessimism" in a speech to political and business leaders at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday.

Read More