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Persistent Pause Perplexes Climate Catastrophists

Doug K Hoffman, The Resilient Earth

A few months back, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made headlines by declaring the 18+ year pause in global warming a hoax, or at least a misunderstanding.

In June 2015, NOAA scientists published an online article in the journal Science finds that the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20th Century. Their study claimed to refute the notion that there has been a slowdown or “hiatus” in the rate of global warming. Climate change alarmists were ecstatic, the Pause was dead, long live global warming! Now, showing how settled the science behind climate change really is, a new paper in Nature Climate refutes the refutation. In a warmist’s nightmare zombi Apocalypse, the Pause is back and NOAA stands revealed as the data fudging climate change activists they are.

Last year, a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) claimed to have revisited the temperature data from the past several decades and found that the pause wasn’t a pause at all. Indeed, said a group of researchers in the Science article, “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus,” there was nothing of the sort. Here is the abstract from the paper by Thomas R. Karl et al.:

Much study has been devoted to the possible causes of an apparent decrease in the upward trend of global surface temperatures since 1998, a phenomenon that has been dubbed the global warming “hiatus.” Here we present an updated global surface temperature analysis that reveals that global trends are higher than reported by the IPCC, especially in recent decades, and that the central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a “slowdown” in the increase of global surface temperature.

As might be expected, the climate alarmist cabal and their fellow travelers in the green media were beside themselves with joy. The “Pause” or “Hiatus” had been a specter haunting their claims of impending catastrophe for almost two decades. Until now all major climate research institutions had admitted that the pause was real. In 2013, Dr. James Hansen, of NASA’s GISS, said: “The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing.”

Dr. Phil Jones from the UK Met Office, is quoted as saying that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming. Dr Doug Smith, of the UK Met Office, added: “The exact causes of the temperature standstill are not yet understood.” And the list of reluctant verification and science speak evasions goes on. Like it or not, nature was just not cooperating with the climate scientists wonky models. Other researchers were not so sanguine.

Also published in Science in 2015, a paper by Byron A. Steinman, Michael E. Mann, and Sonya K. Miller, declared that the pause was real but a temporary aberration. According to them, several natural cycles, know as oscillations, had conspired to create a “false pause.” Here is their abstract:

The recent slowdown in global warming has brought into question the reliability of climate model projections of future temperature change and has led to a vigorous debate over whether this slowdown is the result of naturally occurring, internal variability or forcing external to Earth’s climate system. To address these issues, we applied a semi-empirical approach that combines climate observations and model simulations to estimate Atlantic- and Pacific-based internal multidecadal variability (termed “AMO” and “PMO,” respectively). Using this method, the AMO and PMO are found to explain a large proportion of internal variability in Northern Hemisphere mean temperatures. Competition between a modest positive peak in the AMO and a substantially negative-trending PMO are seen to produce a slowdown or “false pause” in warming of the past decade.

Oh what pitiful stuff. How can nature be false? No temperature rise is no temperature rise. Then arrives the Karl et al. paper and it looked like the climate change disaster train was back on track. Replete with graphs showing misleading trendlines, the news was trumpeted throughout the warmist community. There was much rejoicing, or at least heartfelt sighs of relief – the hated Hiatus was dead.

“Adding in the last two years of global surface temperature data and other improvements in the quality of the observed record provide evidence that contradict the notion of a hiatus in recent global warming trends,” said Thomas R. Karl, director of NOAA’s NCEI, it the online NOAA press release. “Our new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century.”

So the Pause is dead… or is it?

Enter 2016 and comes a paper by John C. Fyfe and colleagues: “Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown.” In it a group of 11 climate researchers put the smack down on the NOAA paper. Here is their to the point abstract:

It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims.

That is exceptionally blunt for a scientific paper, which are usually couched in vague terms impenetrable to non-scientists. It is all the more shocking in that is was published in the journal Nature Climate which is widely seen as a safe haven for climate alarmists papers. What the authors did was nothing new, just a straightforward analysis of the global temperature. Here is their conclusion:

In all three observational datasets the most recent 15-year trend (ending in 2014) is lower than both the latest 30-year and 50-year trends. This divergence occurs at a time of rapid increase in greenhouse gasses (GHGs). A warming slowdown is thus clear in observations; it is also clear that it has been a ‘slowdown’ and not a stop.

While they are careful to call the hiatus a slowdown and not a pause, the result is clear: NOAA overstepped the bounds of data propriety in their previous denial.

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