Climate change: A 'pause' in global warming? Not on this evidence

2015 is likely to follow 2014 and 2010 as the next record hot year

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The Independent Online

Some have called it the “pause”, others the “hiatus”. Now it seems neither description is accurate, given that the three hottest years on record have all occurred in the last five years and that nine out of the ten hottest years have all been in this century.

Climate sceptics, such as the former Chancellor Lord Lawson and ex-minister Peter Lilley, have repeatedly claimed that global warming has either stopped or slowed down to justify their arguments that action on climate change is premature or unnecessary.

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Met Office have talked about a “slowdown” or “hiatus” in the rate of increase in global surface temperatures, seemingly over the past decade or so, compared to the end of the last century.

Other researchers, however, are not so sure that the data can be read this way, especially now that 2015 is likely to follow 2014 and 2010 as the next record hot year (while the chances are that 2016 will be among the top three as well, because of a continuing El Nino).

“We really don’t have a pause in global warming. I’ve frankly never really agreed with that,” said dr Jessica Blunden, a climate researcher at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which collates records on land and sea temperatures. “We’ve continued to break heat records in the 21st century since 1998 – 2005 was a record warm year, then 2010 was a record and then 2014 was a record and now we’re getting ready to beat that record again. I disagree with the thought that there is a warming hiatus.”

A major review of global temperatures by NOAA earlier this year found that the rate of increase in global surface temperatures over both land and sea has been just as fast at the start of this century as it was at the end of the last.

Its scientists said the “hiatus” is nothing more than an illusion resulting from flaws in the way data was collected, and the fact that 2015 seems destined to break the record again underlined that.

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