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Global warming didn't pause, and is carrying on at catastrophic levels, scientists warn

Gaps in the data helped spur a mistake that led people to think climate change could be slowing

Andrew Griffin
Monday 20 November 2017 16:34 GMT
A man on a rooftop looks at approaching flames as the Springs fire continues to grow on May 3, 2013 near Camarillo, California
A man on a rooftop looks at approaching flames as the Springs fire continues to grow on May 3, 2013 near Camarillo, California (David McNew/Getty Images)

There was never any “pause” in global warming, new data shows, and the world is warming at a pace that scientists warn will be catastrophic.

Gaps in the data about the world temperature led people to believe that climate wasn't heating as much as suggested. But that was wrong and global warming is progressing far faster than would be expected, the new research suggests.

That's according to scientists who returned to calculate global temperatures in the years 1998-2012. It's those years that many people claim were subject to a "global warming hiatus", where the pace of climate change appeared to slow.

But that idea was based on a mistake in the data used to calculate the temperature of the planet, the new research suggests. It builds on a range of research that shows that despite repeated claims global warming had stopped it is actually continuing at a catastrophic pace.

The idea of a hiatus had been helpful to climate change deniers and confounding to scientists, who couldn't understand why the world would stop warming even despite increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases. The solution is that the warming never happened, according to the new research carrried out by Xiangdong Zhang, an atmospheric scientist with UAF's International Arctic Research Center, who collaborated with colleagues at Tsinghua University in Beijing and Chinese agencies.

"We recalculated the average global temperatures from 1998-2012 and found that the rate of global warming had continued to rise at 0.112C per decade instead of slowing down to 0.05C per decade as previously thought," said Zhang who is also a professor with UAF's College of Natural Science and Mathematics.

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