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Global cooling - Is global warming still happening?

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate

All the indicators show that global warming is still happening.

Climate Myth...

It's cooling

"In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable." (source: Henrik Svensmark)

When looking for evidence of global warming, there are many different indicators that we should look for. Whilst it's natural to start with air temperatures, a more thorough examination should be as inclusive as possible; snow cover, ice melt, air temperatures over land and sea, even the sea temperatures themselves. The key indicators of global warming shown below are all moving in the direction expected of a warming globe.

Indicators of a warming world based on surface, satellite, and ocean temperature measurements, satellite measurements of energy imbalance (the difference between incoming and outgoing energy at the top of the atmosphere), and of receding glaciers, sea ice, and ice sheets, rising sea level, and shifting seasons.

The question of global warming stopping is often raised in the light of a recent weather event - a big snowfall or drought breaking rain. Global warming is entirely compatible with these events; after all they are just weather. For climate change, it is the long term trends that are important; measured over decades or more, and those long term trends show that the globe is still, unfortunately, warming.

Basic rebuttal written by LarryM

Update July 2015:

Here is the relevant lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

Last updated on 5 July 2015 by . View Archives

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page

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On 21 January 2012, 'the skeptic argument' was revised to correct a minor formatting error.


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Comments 301 to 319 out of 319:

  1. More inconvenient facts for Sam to digest...

    As the world warms, the weather is changing in ways far more dramatic than a little extra heat there, a little less rain there.

    Entire weather patterns are shifting, and we're already seeing the results in Australia this autumn.

    First up, some dramatic statistics to illustrate the unprecedented Australian temperature anomalies being experienced in Australia this month. Then we'll hear from an expert on why it's happening.

    • Sydney is a whopping 4.9 degrees above average for May. Sydney's average May daily maximum temperature is usually 19.5. The average is 24.3 degrees so far this month.
    • One more time for emphasis, Sydney is almost FIVE DEGREES ABOVE AVERAGE for a whole month. Wow.
    • In fact, the Sydney maximum has topped 20 every day in May so far. Tuesday hit 28. The COLDEST day of the month was 1.3 degrees ABOVE the average.
    • Hot streaks do not usually last this long. Not even close.
    • Melbourne temperatures are also way up this month. It's May 2016 average of 20.3 degrees (to date) is 3.6 degrees above the long term May daily average of 16.7.
    • It's a similar picture across Australia. Canberra is nearly four degrees above average so far this May, Hobart and Brisbane three degrees, Adelaide nearly two degrees, and Darwin and Perth both one degree.
    • The fact that it's much warmer than usual across Australia is very much in keeping with the long term Australian trend (depicted below), as well as global data showing that the world just had its hottest ever seven months — and its hottest April by a huge margin.

    Sydney And Melbourne Copping Record May Heat. The Reason Why Is Scary by Anthony Sharwood, Huffington Post Australia, May 17, 2016

  2. John Hartz @301, the article was written on May 17th, and therefore was grotesquely exagerrating when it says, "Sydney is almost FIVE DEGREES ABOVE AVERAGE for a whole month".  That may yet be the case, although that is unlikely.


    [DB] A note to all participants:  'sam' has recused himself from further participation here, finding the burden of complying with this venue's Comments Policy too onerous.

  3. Concerning Vietnam's mid-winter snows @298, I did think to have a quick look into GHCN data to check out the most recent winter temperatures. Cao Bang was the station I hit upon, in the hills north of Hanoi at 800ft altitude. The NOAA data (spoilt a bit by an evident data entry error for Jan 2016) shows January 2016 was colder than recent years for its Mean Min Temp (colder than 2011 but not as cold as 1963). The data does show Januarys have been getting colder over the last few years (still not as cold as the 1960s) but the winters have also been getting shorter with Novembers & Marchs getting warmer.

    The NOAA data also gives Lowest Min Temp for each month, so we can see at 800ft we come very close to the snow line in January with lowest temperatures dropping below 40ºF in half the Januarys (dropping to 32.7ºF in 2014, & below freezing in 1995). Mid-winter snowfall higher up in the mountains of Vietnam thus should be quite normal.

  4. Where do I find your video experiment with the black color solution that was added to water in a glass container to show the amount of CO2?

  5. plato525 @304, here is the video I think you have in mind:

    I am not sure as to whether there is or not a SkS blog post discussing this video.

  6. Here is an example of an argument I see over and over between climate researchers and climate skeptics: (Sorry, I haven't mastered how to paste the graphics into my comment).  It relates to whether the current global average temperature is higher than the medieval maximum.  The dueling groups each seem to have their own set of facts.  Can someone clear this up for me?  Thanks.


    [TD] In those Quora responses, David was correct. The GISP2 graph that Allen posted ends in 1855, which is why the spike at the right is absent. Just as problematic is the fact that GISP2 is from a single location and therefore not well representative of the entire world. GISP2 is explained in a three part series here. In the Search field at the top left, enter “Crux of a Core” to find them.

  7. Richieb1234: Regarding the Medieval Warm Period, see this post. For a more recent and better temperature reconstruction see here.

  8. richieb1234 @306,

    The GISP2 ice core temperature record is Greenland temperature not global temperature. High Northern latitudes will have cooled more than global averages since the Holocene Climate Optimum (5,000 years ago). As a result, a reconstructed Greenland temperature would show today's Greenland temperatures still below those of the Holocene Climate Optimum.

    The GISP2 data is often recycled by denialists (the graph below is from your link) suggesting the final data point represents today when it is actually 95 years before 1950 = 1855. CarbonBrief have a recent factcheck of the GISP2 data's misuse by denialists, along with a Greenland temperature reconstruction from multiple ice cores and brought up-to-date with modern instrument data, the today's temperatures being Berkeley Earth 20-year averages to 2013.

    GIPS2 temperature

    Your link also features the infamous IPCC FAR Fig 7.1c saying "it has become so 'inconvenient' they haven't mentioned it since & some scientists have tried to eliminate it." Again FAR Fig 7.1c  has been much misused by denialists. Yet it was always a “schematic diagram of global temperature variations” with the “dotted line nominally represents conditions near the beginning of the twentieth century.” If anybody reads the text of IPCC FAR, it would also indicate plainly just how schematic Fig 7.1c was. Additionally, if Fig 7.1c were meant to be an accurate global temperature record, the 0.15 deg C temperature increase shown for 1900-50 would be a bit of a clue.

    IPCC FAR Fig 7.1c

  9. I have a question, if the Earth is hotter then ever before, then how come there are tree stumps underneath the Juneau icefield? For the tree stumps to be there, the icefield couldn't been there since trees don't grow in ice. And for the trees to grow there, the Juneau ice field must have formed after the trees grew, then left the trees stumps there after freezing the area. So back then it was hot enough, then the Earth cooled forming the Juneau ice fied. Meaning that this is NOT  the hottest period in the Earth's history. Right?


    [DB]  The Earth is not in radiative balance with forcings and will continue to warm for some time yet until that balance is reached.  Beyond that, warming is uneven.  Further, current levels of the warming of the globe likely exceed those found both in the Holocene and in the previous interglacial, the Eemian.

    Alaska glaciers have only been recently declining, reversing a 8,000 year period of growth and expansion:

    Per McKay et al 2018 - The Onset and Rate of Holocene Neoglacial Cooling in the Arctic

    "Arctic summer temperatures have decreased for the past 8,000 years, before rapidly warming over the past century. As temperatures cooled, glaciers that had melted began to regrow throughout the Arctic, a phenomenon and a time interval known as Neoglaciation.

    This study seeks to understand the nature of this cooling and whether or not this indicates a tipping point in the climate system. Specifically, we use a large database of records from ice cores, lakes, ocean sediment, and more paleoclimate archives to detect patterns of cooling. We investigate these patterns, and climate model simulations, to determine what parts of the Arctic experienced Neoglaciation at the same time, how rapidly it cooled, and what climate models indicate about the causes of cooling.

    We find that the Arctic did not cool simultaneously, but different regions cooled at different times and that the climate models perform well when simulating both the timing and amount of Arctic cooling."

    Further, recent climate warming in the central Yukon region has surpassed the warmest temperatures experienced in the previous 13,600 years.

    Porter et al 2019 - Recent summer warming in northwestern Canada exceeds the Holocene thermal maximum

    Warming takes time

    Warming to match forcings takes time.  Be patient.

     [TD] See also this post. And then this one. And finally this one. Note that some of those posts have Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced tabbed panes.

  10. Hi,

    your comment indicates a lack of familiarity with paleoclimate data and what the science shows for the the more recent times. The moderator's suggestions are good places to start.

  11. I would be wary of the claim "if the Earth is hotter then ever before ". Where did you find this claim? I think we can say with very strong certainty that the earth has been hotter before. Just going back to the Pliocene would be hotter but potentially other interglacials may have been warmer than now. (But note that it can take near a thousand years for earth to come into equilibrium with forcings - ocean mixing rate).

    Reconstructions of past climate would suggest that it is likely we are warmer globally than any time in the holocene - the last 12000 years. It is less certain whether the Northern Hemisphere is warmer than past times in the holocene  (esp NH Holocene climatic optimum).

    The real concern about climate change is not what the temperature is, but how fast it is changing compared to any other time in the past. Rapid change creates adaptation stress for both the natural world and our manmade infrastructure like cities and agricultural systems.

  12. I would also add that glaciers take time to come into equilibrium. Our longest glacier, the Tasman is in rapid retreat. However, even if warming stopped now (temperatures stayed about same), you can see that many more kilometers of the glaciar are basically deadmeat. The lake will continue extending up the valley but it will take a decade or so for that to happen.

  13. I would be grateful for any information on a site called which supposedly shows consistent cooling. Is their methodology flawed? Any thing I can use to counter what they publish would be appreciated. 

  14. Rtc1956 @313,

    thank you for the reference to website ""

    . . . where a very strange global temperature chart is shown !

    Whatever data processing/ manipulating/ cherry-picking they've done, they have somehow produced a chart which is divorced from reality.

    Have a look at 2016 figures ~ global temperature (presumably some sort of average) is shown as varying by over 3 degreesC in the course of that year !!!    How on earth that could happen, requires a Harry Potter explanation.

    They claim they are using "unadjusted" METARS (weather stations at airports) collated by NOAA/NCDC . . . which would be very heavily weighted to Northern Hemisphere landmasses of course.  Which would not represent an honest global  picture.   Yet they also claim to use buoy data (presumably oceanic) which might add some sort of Southern Hemisphere weighting . . . but that sounds funny too, in view of the colossal 3 degree fluctuation in 2016.   None of it seems to make sense.

    Rtc1950, it is IMO just someone playing silly burgers with selected data.

    There are two other commonsense filters that can be applied :-

    (A) If world temperature has been cooling (and recent years being persistently cool, according to that website's temp chart) . . . then we would be seeing an increase in world ice, and a lowering of global sea level.   Which ain't in evidence.

    (B) There would be massive headlines & news reports around the world . . . cheering millions celebrating in the streets . . . and Miss Greta Thunberg would be promptly demoted from her (just announced) front cover of Times Magazine as "Person of the Year for 2019"   ;-)

  15. Recommended supplermental rearding:

    Claims of a coming 30-year “mini ice age” are not supported by science, Edited by Scott Johnson, Climate Feedback, Feb 6, 2020

  16. if you want to measure trends in temperature there is no reason to weigh land temperatures differently from sea surface temperatures. There was also no reason for you to exclude a third of the Earth's surface from your "logical and mathematical approach". There was also no reason to exclude 21% of the data in time. Including the data from 1871 to 1899 shows that the pattern you claim only have detected in a single cycle does not mean the same go for other periods.

  17. Global warming is definitely still happening, and there are many factors that show this. Saying that the earth is “cooling” does not make any sense, due to the many indicators that it is such as snow covers, ice melts, and the temperatures over the land and ocean. I really like the quote: The question of global warming stopping is often raised in the light of a recent weather event...For climate change, it is the long term trends that are important; measured over decades or more, and those long term trends show that the globe is still, unfortunately, warming.” I think it sums up the entire argument well and makes it very simple for people who still may be confused to understand.

  18. Welcome to Skeptical Science, Sun and anika.

    One of the things that you will notice here is that no discussions are ever closed. But you do need to pay attention to when comments were made, as very old discussions may not be active.

    Sun: you mention several items, but it is not clear if you are responding to the main article, or comments from others. It helps if you refer to the comment number, or the portion of the post you are responding to. In looking at global temperatures, "global" will assign a weighting to the land temperature record based on the global land area, while sea surface temperatures will be weighted according to ocean area. As for older data: global coverage is much less dense in the 1800s, so for some purposes the older data may be too unreliable to be able to say that it represents "global" conditions.

    Anika: you raise an important point. Each individual characteristic (temperature, ice cover, vegetation, etc.) will have short-term variation that makes it harder to see the long-term trend - but when you see similar response in a wider variety of characteristics it becomes much less likely that any single one is "by chance". There is a "big picture" that is more than just the sum of the parts.

  19. The Earth is not in radiative balance with forcings and will continue to warm for some time yet until that balance is reached. Even the warming is uneven. Further, current levels of the warming of the globe likely exceed those found both in the Holocene and in the previous interglacial.

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