Global Warming Did Not Pause

You've heard much about the so-called "pause" or "hiatus" in global warming.

One of the implications of a multi-year "pause" in global warming is that the science of global warming must be somehow wrong, because with CO2 rising in atmosphere, due to human activity, how can the surface not warm? However, surface temperatures have been rising, but at a somewhat slower rate than at some other times.

The truth is that there is a lot of variation in that upward trending surface temperature value, measured as an anomaly above expected temperatures. Sometimes the variation pushes the rate of warming up, sometimes it pushes the rate of warming down. This has always happened, and will always happen.

So there was something of a lowering of rate of surface warming, but at the same time, no such reduction in rate of ocean warming. Most of the heat from global warming is added to the ocean, not the surface. So, the reality is, global warming has been continuing apace.

One of the factors involved in a slowdown is probably the fact that the Pacific Ocean has been absorbing more heat, for a longer period, relatively uninterrupted by large El Ninos (which reverse that trend), for longer than usual. This year's El Nino is returning some of that heat to the atmosphere. But even before El Nino kicked in, we were having month after month of record breaking heat (with the very rare month not being a record breaker) for a long time.

Anyway, a couple of papers have recently been published that look once more at the "pause" and I wanted to point them out. The best way to get at these papers is to read the guest commentary by tephan Lewandowsky, James Risbey, and Naomi Oreskes on RealClimate.org: Hiatus or Bye-atus?

The idea that global warming has “stopped” has long been a contrarian talking point. This framing has found entry into the scientific literature and there are now numerous articles that address a presumed recent “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming. Moreover, the “hiatus” also featured as an accepted fact in the latest IPCC report (AR5). Notwithstanding its widespread use in public and apparent acceptance in the scientific community, there are reasons to be skeptical of the existence of a “hiatus” or “pause” in global warming .... We have examined this issue in a series of three recent papers, which have converged on the conclusion that there is not now, and there never has been, a hiatus or pause in global warming.

Just go and read the post, and if you like, the links therein.

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A time series with a long-term trend (say 0.0-0.02C/year on average) that is much smaller than year-to-year variability (easily 0.2+C) *has* have short periods when a regression trend is flat or even downward.
Ocean oscillations alone do a fine job of that.

On the other hand, we don't see that in nice CO2 animation from NOAA.

The year-to-year trend is larger than any year-to-year variation, despite the season-to-season "breathing" effect.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 26 Nov 2015 #permalink

"You’ve heard much about the so-called 'pause' or 'hiatus' in global warming."

Never from a scientist. The laws of physics don't work that way.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 26 Nov 2015 #permalink

Chris No'Neill: "There was this stuff, not published in a scientific journal:"

Ah, so 0.12% of the climate "paused" in its warming..... =YAWN!= The subject of this blog post is the imaginary "pause" in global warming: the laws of physics didn't stop working.

"They’re all very quiet about it now though."

Huh?

By Desertphile (not verified) on 26 Nov 2015 #permalink

In reply to by Chris O'Neill (not verified)

so 0.12% of the climate “paused” in its warming

That didn't stop the denialists from carrying on as if it was the most important thing since sliced bread.

“They’re all very quiet about it now though.”

"They" refers to whoever it was that wrote that report, unnamed that they are. That's a really strange report. One wonders what motivated them to write it. Rather mysterious but that didn't stop the denialists from trumpeting it from the rooftops as if it deserved a Nobel prize.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 26 Nov 2015 #permalink

Irritating beyond measure.

If those who should know better were more precise in the use of language then the seepage of contrarian memes into the scientific discourse would never have happened.

Pause and hiatus are *incorrect* terms for a slowdown in the rate of surface warming.

There is a lesson to be learned about science communication here. Let's hope it eventually sinks in.

Desertphile

Unfortunately, there are a number of references to the pause and hiatus now in the literature. Here is one example:

England et al. (2015).

BBD:

Unfortunately, there are a number of references to the pause and hiatus now in the literature.

That's unfortunate because self-interested AGW-deniers are so quick to exploit the public's lack of familiarity with the way scientists think. From the RC post Greg references:

When scientists use the terms “pause” or “hiatus” they may indeed know—and their colleagues may understand—that they do not mean to imply that global warming has stopped. The problem is that words such as “pause” or “hiatus” have vernacular meanings, and when scientists use a term from the public vernacular to describe a feature of science, confusion results when the vernacular term is an inappropriate description of that feature. Scientists might tacitly understand that global warming continues notwithstanding the “pause,” or they may intend “pause” to refer to differences between observed temperatures and model-derived expectations, but the public is not privy to that tacit understanding.
By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 27 Nov 2015 #permalink

Mal Adapted

The whole thing has been a bit of a mess from start to finish.

The alpha and omega is:

The troposphere ≠ the climate system

And, as Willard might have put it:

Yes but OHC.

No pause, no hiatus. No misunderstanding.

BBD: "No pause, no hiatus. No misunderstanding."

Indeed. The entire "concept" of human-caused warming of Earth is just asinine--- the laws of physics don't just "pause." Anything that would cause human-caused warming to suddenly stop would be utterly catastrophic, and A Very Bad Thing. Massive volcanic activity, for example; large meteorite slamming into the planet, for another; global atomic bomb war; a sudden tripling (approximately) of industrial aerosols in the atmosphere, which no one noticed---- there must be some mechanism by which a "pause" would happen. No such mechanism was observed, nor was a "pause" observed.

Recall how baffled the IPCC scientists were when the reporting media showed up at the latest press conference and asked about "the pause:" they had no idea what the media were talking about, and they "rushed" a botched explanation for an event that never happened.

I can think of only two mechanisms by which human-caused warming would pause without disaster: space alien technology being applied by The Lizard People who took pity on us, or the gods changed the laws of physics for their own reasons.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 27 Nov 2015 #permalink

In reply to by BBD (not verified)

'Pause and hiatus are *incorrect* terms for a slowdown in the rate of surface warming.'

Surely, but one still needs to correcly explain the slowdown, apparent lack of hotspot, increased Antarctic sea ice, still growing Antarctic glaciers, etc.

Only by explaining the unexplainable clearly and credibly enough you can win your average nerd to your side. Cook has tried, but with little success partly because he's not open enough to uncertainty. We really still don't know the sensitivity, how could we know how bad this is?

It all boils down to one thing. People are not buying destructive mitigation policies based on 'could' and 'might' scenarios. And they don't buy when one lies about the certainty, either. You need facts. Real, relevant facts, not intractable computer modelling or jocular word bingo.

This is a hard requirement. Not only your hard-core crackpot will deny everything, but the average joe will have hard time believing you measured the right things right, drew the right conclusions and finally, suggest the right medicine. There are, at this field, so many places where the grave mistake may lie.

I guarantee whatever mistake we do now from premature mitigation to recklessly increased coal use in China, the history will treat us as idiots.

By Kraftwork (not verified) on 27 Nov 2015 #permalink

It's not about winning your average nerd. It's about winning your average redneck in the face of campaigns of lies about a so-called "pause", we can't "prove" we're causing warming, the scientists are "lying" to us for their research grants, warming will be "good" for us, etc., etc.

A lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 28 Nov 2015 #permalink

In reply to by Kraftwork (not verified)

Desertphile

There was a slowdown in the rate of tropospheric warming, but no pause or hiatus in the accumulation of energy in the climate system as a whole. Which is mostly ocean.

Unsurprisingly, variability in the rate of ocean heat uptake seems to be important (England et al. 2014).

Interesting and good source(s) there. Although i don't think its exactly news to anyone who has been following and understanding this issue and its science closely. Or indeed, much at all.

Meanwhile the Deniers such as the excreable Andrew Bolt -an Aussie TV, radio & newspaper ideological polemicist (he doesn't deserve bit gets mislabelled a "journalist") keep outright lying and pushing the "Pause" nonsense regardless of this reality. Which their followers and fellow ideologues then spread like rubbish over a dump all over the internet and social media and everywhere else. Sigh.

Just wonder what it will take for some people to stop engaging in such outright lies.

"bit" = but naturally. Typos

@10. Desertphile : "I can think of only two mechanisms by which human-caused warming would pause without disaster: space alien technology being applied by The Lizard People who took pity on us, or the gods changed the laws of physics for their own reasons."

Or Geoengineering of some sort? Developing carbon dioxide eating algae? Ocean fertilisation with iron? A massive shift to renewable energy sources or thorium reactors or something?

Or do those all end up as possible disasters too which admittedly seems likely and hard to imagine there wouldn't be side effects and problems with such projects.

Maybe a whole combination of means with Humanity finally realising the scale of the problem and pulling out a global "Moon shots" type massive dedicated collective effort?

Even then, it seems likely that we'll only slow and mitigate the planetary overheating not stop it doesn't it?

StevoR: "Or Geoengineering of some sort? Developing carbon dioxide eating algae? Ocean fertilisation with iron? A massive shift to renewable energy sources or thorium reactors or something?"

Indeed, that would make the increasing temperature "pause," but I meant the "pause" that didn't happen, not a pause that could happen in the future. There are many ways the increase in global average temperature could have been made to pause by humans and have been temporarily kept secret.

In fact, my physicist friends in Los Alamos and Santa Fe are currently writing a speculative fiction novel that explains how they would do so, and the consequences. They looked at injecting into the stratosphere powdered aluminum, powdered sand, salt crystals, and diamonds. The consequences would be a year or two without summer, and increased starvation and death: probably not a good thing.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 28 Nov 2015 #permalink

In reply to by StevoR (not verified)

StevoR

Although i don’t think its exactly news to anyone who has been following and understanding this issue and its science closely. Or indeed, much at all.

I'd dispute the 'or much at all'. Sure, the informed are aware of the fundamental misrepresentation of the 'pause' by contrarians, but have you ever met anyone who wasn't up to speed who really understood this? I certainly haven't. The average perception I encounter is: 'I thought global warming had stopped or something?'

Thanks in no small part to peddlers of lukwarmer nonsense everywhere, from Bolt to our very own Matt Ridley.

There is a topic that must be addressed at the upcoming talks in Paris about global warming, namely, the melting of the permafrost in the Arctic Circle. It is melting and will continue to do so, even if no more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. If all of it melts, all of the carbon frozen there will be released in the form of carbon dioxide and methane. When that happens, the rate of global warming may increase by as much as fifty times. If this happens, all the other things being considered to control global warming, will, basically, be a waste of time. All of the pertinent facts can be found at my website, brianebaxter.com

Incredible as it may seem, there is a method available that will stop it from melting, one that might actually stand a chance of being implemented. It is critical to the survival of the human race that something be done Right Now. All of the facts about this method can be found at my website brianebaxter.com.

Please, take a look. It will take no more than five minutes of your time. The very survival of the human race depends on it.

By Brian E Baxter (not verified) on 28 Nov 2015 #permalink

What do you suggest for your average redneck? I've seen a lot of the "Provide empirical evidence that CO2 is causing warming! You can't, can you? Aha! That's why there's a pause - the whole thing is a fraud." etc. etc. global cooling blah meme lately. I'm not sure it's worth engaging with those people, because they have no intention of talking about the actual evidence. But this strategy plays well with the casual reader.

What do you suggest for your average redneck?

As I said, a lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on. On this issue the truth cannot compete with lies.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 30 Nov 2015 #permalink

"You’ve heard much about the so-called “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming."

Yes, from the IPCC. The term "hiatus" is used over a dozen times in IPCC AR5 to describe, not vague objections to climate theory, but to the record of surface temperature anomaly over the last 15-20 years, and specifically the change in decadal surface temperature trend *downward* to a 1/2 to 1/4 of what it was in the latter 20th century.

"One of the implications of a multi-year “pause” in global warming is that the science of global warming must be somehow wrong, "

Again no, the problem of the hiatus is with the current CMIP model forecast of surface temperature which differs strongly from observation, as clearly shown in AR5. In particular see FigBox TS.3-1, frame (a) of the AR5 Technical Summary.

Explanations for the model's hot forecast may include, for example, inadequately modeled heat transport mechanisms to the deeper ocean instead of the surface, or that CO2 sensitivity is too high. In this latter case CO2 sensitivity refers in all IPCC discussions to the forcing from CO2 and all net feedbacks, not just CO2 alone. Also, the models may have undervalued the size of natural variability.

In any case, recognition of the modeling error will lead to improvements. Dismissing the error as if it never happened, or that the "hiatus" is some kind of junk science invention and not recognized by the IPCC, this is all profoundly un-serious and un-helpful.

The term “hiatus” is used over a dozen times in IPCC AR5 to describe the record of surface temperature anomaly over the last 15-20 years.

The IPCC used the term "hiatus" to describe the period 1998-2012, i.e. 15 years. 20 years is an obvious exaggeration. Whatever the "hiatus" was, it is now history.

the current CMIP model forecast of surface temperature which differs strongly from observation, as clearly shown in AR5. In particular see FigBox TS.3-1

This is simply wrong. How can observation differ strongly from modelled forecast range if observation is within the modelled forecast range? (TFE.3 Figure 1)

Beating up the statistically and climatologically insignificant "hiatus" as if it differed strongly from the current CMIP model forecast is profoundly un-serious and un-helpful.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 30 Nov 2015 #permalink

In reply to by Falstaff (not verified)

kRAFTWORK (#11): I guarantee whatever mistake we do now from premature mitigation to recklessly increased coal use in China, the history will treat us as idiots.

Yes, making a mistake is wrong by definition, and a big enough mistake will brand the maker as an idiot — at least for a time. Of course, few mistakes are unfixable, and fixing the mistake should remove the onus.

But the reason I write this is to question the way you seem to regard any mitigation measure as a mistake. Would you consider this measure a mistake?
* Insulating houses and office buildings to use less energy for heating and cooling reduces emissions of CO2. It also saves the owners of the buildings money in the long run.

I find it hard to see how mitigation measures in general can be considered destructive. Lord Stern and other economists have pointed out how much worse it would be to depend only on adaptation. I fall back on Benjamin Franklin's adage: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 01 Dec 2015 #permalink

Does anyone think the economy crisis of 08 might have contributed to the temporary pause?

As mny people were without work there was less driving and less driving would show up as a 'break' as earth's temps briefly did cool by 0.5C and many Northern Hemisphere locations north of 45 degrees latitude had very harsh winters for modern days.

Even the mid atlantic had a string of below norm temps for 3 winters in a row.

It caused many Conservatives to think there was an ice age coming 'any day' mostly fueled by a Russian Scientist at that time who came forward and publicly predicted one by 2012-13 and no later then 2015 we would be in the deep freezer reviving the 1970s ice age scare.

Sites like Ice Age Now which only talks/rants about cold weather aand bans you if you even mention warm/hot weather.

All the comments seem to be the kiss ass type and I wonder if other people got kicked whom had the wrong kind of post.

By Sortinghat (not verified) on 01 Jan 2016 #permalink

On a side note the bible is the only one to predict 'fireball earth' as a possible scenario if we stop being the 'good stewards' of this planet.

hmmmmmmmmmmm.

By Sortinghat (not verified) on 01 Jan 2016 #permalink

Edit. I mean continue to stop.

By Sortinghat (not verified) on 01 Jan 2016 #permalink