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What has global warming done since 1998?

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate

Every part of the Earth's climate system has continued warming since 1998, with 2015 shattering temperature records.

Climate Myth...

It hasn't warmed since 1998

For the years 1998-2005, temperature did not increase. This period coincides with society's continued pumping of more CO2 into the atmosphere. (Bob Carter)

Even if we ignore long term trends and just look at the record-breakers, 2015, 2014, 2010, and 2005 were hotter than 1998.

The myth of no warming since 1998 was based on the satellite record estimates of the temperature of the atmosphere.  However, as discussed in the video below by Peter Sinclair, even that argument is no longer accurate.  The satellites show warming since 1998 too.

To claim global warming stopped in 1998 also overlooks a simple physical reality - the land and atmosphere are just a small fraction of the Earth's climate (albeit the part we inhabit). The entire planet is accumulating heat due to an energy imbalance. The atmosphere is warming. Oceans are accumulating energy. Land absorbs energy and ice absorbs heat to melt. To get the full picture on global warming, you need to view the Earth's entire heat content.  More than 90% of global warming heat goes into warming the oceans, while less than 3% goes into increasing the atmospheric and surface air temperatures. Nuccitelli et al. (2012) showed that the Earth has continued to heat up since 1998.

Fig 2

Figure 1: Land, atmosphere, and ice heating (red), 0-700 meter OHC increase (light blue), 700-2,000 meter OHC increase (dark blue).  From Nuccitelli et al. (2012).

In 1998, an abnormally strong El Niño caused heat transfer from the Pacific Ocean to the atmosphere. Consequently, we experienced above average surface temperatures. Conversely, the 2000s saw predominantly La Niña conditions, which had a cooling effect on global temperatures.  As a result, the warming of atmosphere and surface temperatures temporarily slowed.  They've now started to speed up again, and the planet as a whole has kept on heating up the whole time.

Using moving averages to discern the long-term trend

With so much internal variability, scientists employ statistical methods to discern long-term trends in surface temperature. The easiest way to remove short-term variations, revealing any underlying trend, is to plot a moving average, performed in Waiting for Cooling, Fawcett & Jones (2008). Figure 3 displays the 11-year moving average - an average calculated over the year itself and five years either side. They've used three different data-sets - NCDC, NASA GISS and the British HadCRUT3. In all three data-sets, the moving average shows no sign that the warming trend has reversed.

Figure 2: Globally-averaged annual mean temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius, together with 11-year unweighted moving averages (solid lines). Blue circles from the Hadley Centre (British). Red diamonds from NASA GISS. Green squares from NOAA NCDC. NASA GISS and NOAA NCDC are offset in vertical direction by increments of 0.5°C for visual clarity.

The linear trend since 1997 or 1998

Next, Fawcett and Jones look for a cooling trend in the 10 years since 1998. They find the linear trend over 1998 to 2007 is a warming trend in all three data-sets. Note that HadCRUT3 displays less warming than NASA GISS and NCDC. This is most likely due to the fact that HadCRUT data doesn't cover parts of the Arctic where there has been strong warming in recent years.

Figure 3: Linear trends (solid lines) in the three global annual mean temperature anomaly time series over the decade 1998-2007.

Cowtan & Way (2013) also evaluates global surface warming across the globe by using a statistical method known as 'kriging' andby using satellite data to fill in the gaps where there are no temperature stations.  Their study shows that the global surface warming trend for 1997–2015 is approximately 0.14°C per decade.

Removing El Niño and other Exogeneous Factors

In addition to removing the ENSO signlal, Foster & Rahmstorf (2011) used multiple linear regression to remove the effects of solar and volcanic activity from the surface and lower troposphere temperature data.  Their results are shown in the animation below.


Figure 4: Five data sets (GISS, NCDC, HadCRU, UAH, and RSS) with  and without the effects of ENSO, solar irradiance, and volcanic emissions removed.  Data from Foster and Rahmstorf 2011, animation created by Dana Nuccitelli.

When removing these short-term effects, the warming trend has barely even slowed since 1998 (0.163°C per decade from 1979 through 2010, vs. 0.155°C per decade from 1998 through 2010, and 0.187°C per decade for 2000 through 2010).


To sum up, every component of the Earth's climate has continued to warm since 1998.  The myth of no warming during that time was based on the satellite record of atmospheric temperatures, which now shows warming.  Surface and ocean temperatures have risen, as have sea levels, while ice has melted, spring is starting earlier, and so on.  2015 was hotter than 2010, which was hotter than 2005, which was hotter than 1998.  A monster El Niño event made 1998 relatively hot at the surface and in the atmosphere, but Earth has continued warming rapidly over the past 18 years.

Update July 2015:

Here is a related lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial


This rebuttal was updated by Kyle Pressler in September 2021 to replace broken links. The updates are a result of our call for help published in May 2021.

Last updated on 29 September 2017 by dana1981. View Archives

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Further reading

Tamino further explores the warming trend since 1998 in Garbage is Forever and Wiggles.

I've kept my original treatment of the subject as other websites hotlink to the images. My original treatment uses similar arguments to Fawcett and Jones 2008 although their analysis is much more rigorous (as you'd expect in a peer-reviewed paper).

Further viewing


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Comments 1 to 25 out of 415:

  1. While I don't disagree with the statement that the overall warming trend continues, the line-of-best-fit-graph is a bit disingenuous. You should show the 2 sigma bounds on the fit line, which would likely show that the probability of no increase in the last 10 years is not unreasonable. Further I presume that you used least-squares to fit the line. This assumes that temperature anomalies are normally distributed. Glancing at the graph, this doesn't seem to be the case (several major excursions from the mean trend line), so the outliers will unduly influence the line of best fit. Least squares is extremely non-robust to non-normal data. The second graph doesn't help your argument much, and might actually hinder it some. If you could send me or point me to the raw data, I'd be happy to do a different analysis on it and see if there is a meaningful trend in the data.
    Response: Good question, the data comes from GISS Temp, using the Global-mean monthly land-ocean temperature index.
  2. These posts are useful. plfreeman, there's enough data from monthly, weekly, or daily summaries, that the regression and correlation are both statistically significant, even after correcting for autocorrelation and using various methods. Here's a good link to check it out, by a mathematician specializing in time series analysis: The strong version of Carter's claim that warming stopped in 1998 requires the slope to be zero or negative since then. It isn't, therefore the strong version is proven false (and the 60 individuals who signed that have demonstrated their commitment to ideology over data). Even the weak version ('no significant warming') is shown false.
  3. According to Carter the slope is indeed negative since then. However, I believe he is quite clear in saying the amount is not really significant. The data above does not match the data set he is using.
    Response: I have corresponded with Bob Carter about the data he uses - in articles where he states the temperature trend is negligible or even cooling, he's erroneously using upper troposphere data. See the footnote of Satellites show no warming.
  4. Has it warmed over the past decade? Based on the global surface record compiled by the Hadley Centre and the global UAH satellite record there has been warming over the past decade. Plotting the two temperature records for the last 10 years shows that: · The surface record showed a linear increase of 0.062 degrees C per decade · The satellite record showed a linear increase of 0.059 degrees C per decade The two warmest years during this period were 1998 (a strong ENSO year) and 2005 (a somewhat weaker ENSO year). Both of these rates of increase are considerably lower than the average rate of increase over the past 28 years, when satellite readings first became available: · The surface record showed a linear increase of 0.171 degrees C per decade · The satellite record showed a linear increase of 0.142 degrees C per decade
  5. Bob Carter’s article is almost 18 months old now, and we now have temperature records for both 2006 and 2007. Interestingly, both years were predicted to be “record warm” years, with the usual media hype about this being additional proof of alarming global warming caused by man. Both turned out to be rather normal years, but there was not much media hype, since (as we all know) “good news is no news”. But as I showed earlier, if we compare the past decade we see that there is still warming, but that the rate has slowed down considerably in comparison with the earlier record. Sure, there are two ENSO years in the record, 1998 and 2005 (which also turn out to be the two warmest years). But, then again, there will always be ENSO years and scientists have been unable to predict when these will occur or explain exactly why they occur when they do. The question that this site raised should not have been whether or not it has warmed since 1998 but rather whether or not the rate of warming has decreased since 1998 as compared to earlier decades, and if so, whether or not this indicates a trend of slowdown in temperature increase or just an anomaly caused by individual ENSO years.
  6. Good evening. Maybe this discussion could be enriched with comments from the IPCC chairman Rajenda Pachauri and the United Kingdom's Meteorological office (Royal, I presume). From a recent Reuters' piece: "Rajenda Pachauri, the head of the U.N. Panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, said he would look into the apparent temperature plateau so far this century. "One would really have to see on the basis of some analysis what this really represents," he told Reuters, adding "are there natural factors compensating?" for increases in greenhouse gases from human activities." Source: And then the Met office. They recently issued a forecast for 2008, stating this much: "The forecast value for 2008 mean temperature is considered indistinguishable from any of the years 2001-2007, given the uncertainties in the data." Source: So, the IPCC is looking into "the plateau", and the Met Office says it persists into its' eight year, and who knows, after another eight years it may be very very cold again. Over at Tamino's Open mind there was some discussion about whether we should set 2015 as the year when the science could be declared settled;-). But the details seem to take some time to agree upon. The problem with outliers!
  7. Not that one month means much, but the RSS temperature reading for Jan. 2008 has arrived. It was the coldest month since 2000, enforcing the current decadal cooling trend.
    Response: The cool temperatures of Jan 2008 are due to an unusually strong La Nina effect (the strongest in a decade).
  8. With no major volcanic outbreak since 1991, current temperatures are the same as before that major outbreak (Pinatabu). (Actually, current temperature is lower than then but it is fair to allow for a lower average temperature the years before Pinatabu and we need to keep in mind that current temperatures are a bit lower than previous years.) Anyhow we can conclude than since prior to Pinatabu there has been no statistically significant warming trend (its all within error bounds). Now how much was the upper projection of the IPCC? +6°C to the year 2100. From now on that roughly means at least five times the warming rate we've seen so far since satellite measurements began and more than ten times the warming rate since we started to increase our CO2 emissions (around 1940-45). That anyone can believe this without the IPCC presenting any evidence at all is flabbergasting to be honest. I'll admit that there is a risk (albeit minor IMHO) for a two degree warming, but such a risk you handle differently and you certainly won't scare children nor keep people in poverty because of it.
    Response: You can read the IPCC projections versus observations here.
  9. OK, so now we have the data from the ARGO measuring system, and they show that the oceans have not warmed at all since 2003. So there is more than just one La Nina behind the flattening of global temperatures, wouldn't you agree? Sulphur aerosols from China?
  10. I've analyzed the data used by Christopher Monckton in a recent essay where he claims a cooling trend, and the results may be surprising. Or possibly not, for the readers of this website...
  11. Hadley's own analysis for the trend 1998 - 2007 concludes; "A simple mathematical calculation of the temperature change over the latest decade (1998-2007) alone shows a continued warming of 0.1 °C per decade."
  12. Hadley's own analysis for the trend 1998 - 2007 concludes; "A simple mathematical calculation of the temperature change over the latest decade (1998-2007) alone shows a continued warming of 0.1 °C per decade."
  13. Hadley's own analysis for the trend 1998 - 2007 concludes; "A simple mathematical calculation of the temperature change over the latest decade (1998-2007) alone shows a continued warming of 0.1 °C per decade."
  14. Compared to the average 1998 through 2007: The average for the first 5 months of 2008 is 0.16°C colder according to Hadley's HADcrut3, and 0.10°C colder according to NOAA while the atmospheric carbon dioxide level continues its rise. Climate history shows that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has not had any significant influence on average global temperature. See graphs of NOAA and other credible data (all with source websites given) at at four different time scales up to 150,000 ybp.
  15. I apologise in advance ........... " they strain out gnats and swallow camels..." THE current estimated GMT (actual) is 14C. The anomaly 1970 -2008 is around +0.55C which as a linear trend is +0.18/decade. If that trend continues in a linear fashion, then by 2108 the GMT will be 15.8C assuming all other things remain equal. Not impressed.
  16. It is unclear how the calculation at 15 was made. NOAA data is available at LINK and Hadley data at . These both show a trend of about +0.1 degree per decade. Although short term trends can be misleading, like the 22 year run up from 1976 to 1998, the dramatic drop of global average temperature in 2008 may be indicative of a change in character of the climate. The current UAH satellite numerical data (these data consist of the differences of lower atmospheric temperature from the 1979 thru 1998 average) is at . According to these data, the AVERAGE GLOBAL TEMPERATURE for the first 9 months of 2008 is LOWER than the average from 2000 thru 2007 by an amount equal to 43.1% of the total linearized increase (NOAA data) during the 20th century. Since 2000, the CARBON DIOXIDE LEVEL HAS INCREASED by 14.4% of the total increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

  17. Dan: I just did a simple linear calc 0.18/decade for 10 decades = + 1.8c rise. Totally wrong I know but it was to illustrate a point that even if the 30 year trend continues in a linear fashion ( which it can't as the real effect is logarithmic) we would only see GMT rise to 15/16C by 2008.
  18. PS: that should be 2108 of course!!
  19. This one certainly is true now. There has been no warming for the past 11 years. Here is the chart for RSS, UAH, HadCrut3 and GISS. Double click the chart to enlarge it. Also, when we correct for ENSO, the temperature trend remains virtually flat. Here is a chart comparing raw HadCrut3 with ENSO corrected HadCrut3. As you can see, there is virtually no difference. The period in question had 7 ENSO event. 4 were El Ninos and 3 were La Ninas. Taken together they had almost no effect on the trend line.
  20. Interesting that only GISS still indicates a +ve trend whilst the other three show negative. roughly a +1C for GISS and -0.5C for the rest.
  21. Mizimi Yes and it's always GISS data used by the alarmists.
  22. A few points: 1. I am intrigued by the slant, depending on the POV. Ie, if the temp is trending up, it is the result of manmade causes. However, a cold year (2008) is the result of natural causes (La Nina). Hmmm... 2. I'd be interested to see the variation in measuring points over the years, to confirm or reject the notion that some of the warming is due to the removal of Siberian monitoring stations after the USSR disintegration. 3. Looking at the charts for the last 10 or so years, it seems the warming is mostly concentrated in the far northern hemisphere. Would be interesting to see how that is explained.
  23. Two out the three graphs show defenite tempurature rises. That always seems to be ignored by the deniers.
  24. Lee: have a look at the site posted by shows 2 out of 3 graphs indicating a temperature decline. Also theWags has a valid point I raised some time ago...namely that the number of stations collecting data has declined alarmingly over the last 20 years, so we should be asking whether these graphs are truly representative of the global condition. See for a graph of stations vs temperature. It also appears that too many of the remaining stations are in the US for a realistic sampling.
  25. Hi, Thanks again for a great site. I think it is a bit disingenuous to use surface based temperature graphs rather than sattelite based ones. There is a new paper from one Arno Arak who claims that hte sattelites show no warming when measured to Dec 08. Is there anywhere this is refuted. Shane

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