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Study drives a sixth nail into the global warming ‘pause’ myth

Posted on 24 November 2015 by John Abraham

Despite the organization and funding behind groups which try to cast doubt about the causes and implications of climate change, the facts have spoken. The world continues to warm and their favorite myths have died.

We know that human-emitted heat-trapping gases warm the planet. In fact, this has been known for well over a century. With modern instruments (like ocean thermometers and satellites among others) we are now measuring the change. With advanced climate models, we can predict the changes. The measurements and the predictions are in excellent agreement, despite what cable news and second-rate skeptical scientists say.

And this year, the data are in. Using measurements to date, and long-term weather forecasting to predict the last 40 days of the year (while it may seem a bit early) we now know. As my colleague Dana Nuccitelli recently noted, 2015 is the hottest year on record. When the final numbers come out in January, the NOAA 2015 global averaged surface temperature anomaly over both land and ocean will be 1.6°Fabove the long-term average. For the NASA GISTEMP dataset, it will be 1.5°F above the long-term average. This comes on the heels of last year’s record and recent record ocean heat content. So, the bad news is we continue to break records.

The good news is that the favorite myths from climate-change skeptics have taken a beating this year. Perhaps the best-known myth is the so-called “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming. This year, six individual studies have looked into this and found it incorrect. I have co-authored one of the studies, and I’ve written about some of the others here and here.

Well just today, another paper was published by Stephan Lewandowsky, James Risbey, and Naomi Oreskes that comes to the same conclusion. The paper is titled, “On the definition and identifiability of the alleged “hiatus” in global warming”. The authors assess the magnitude and significance of all possible warming trends during the past 30 years. They found that looking back in time, the current definition of a “pause” in warming, as it is used in the literature, would have been used for more than one-third of the time, even though temperatures during the past 30 years increased by 1.1°F (0.6°C). 

The authors included 40 peer-reviewed studies that reported on the so-called hiatus or pause, and found no consistent definition among those studies. Then, the authors used these same 40 papers and asked whether the so-called “hiatus” was unusual in the time records. They found it wasn’t. 

The study also found that when the sample size is small (such as a short time period with very few years), a so-called “hiatus” will always appear. For instance, anyone claiming a “hiatus” shorter than 12 years will almost always find one.

I asked author Naomi Oreskes for a summary and she told me,

Click here to read the rest

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. RealClimate seems to be back up and running again, thankfully.

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  2. Anders showed an excellent graph complementing this article

    (pointed by a commenter in TheGuardian)

    Therein, you can see all temp trends starting at all years and see as clearly as ever why 17y is the "magic number" of years required for the significance of any trend.

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  3. The NOAA Temperature record starting in 1880 shows pauses in warming from 1880 until 1910 and from the mid 1940's until the mid 1970's and from 2002 until the present.  This appears to be a pattern of alternating periods of warming and pauses in warming with each period about 30 years long.  If this pattern continues through the current century then this century will experience only 40 years of warming.

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