Climate change deniers are having a harder and harder time in convincing the rest of the world that global warming isn’t that big of a deal. A new study published in Thursday’s issue of Science revealed updated information regarding temperature recordings and suggest that the global warming hiatus didn’t exist. These findings directly contradict the so called “global warming hiatus” that climate change deniers have long advocated.
Curiously enough, official data supports the idea of this hiatus. According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, global average temperatures have not increased significantly over the past 15 years.
But the team of researchers from NOAA revealed a different truth. Since the early 50’s the overall global surface temperature has experienced a constant increase of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. And this increase is uninterrupted.
Reckless carbon emissions and greenhouse gas trapping have contributed to a constant rate of warming. And while certain reports may be suggesting that so called “global warming hiatuses” may have existed (the term is a misnomer in itself), the planet’s average temperatures are still increasing.
Despite global warming theory opposes, records reflect a worrisome trend: since the 1880’s, when global temperature recordkeeping began, temperatures have only gone up. 2014, for instance, was the hottest year on record.
But each side saw the so-called hiatus as something completely different. Scientists were attempting to clearly explain to the public that a potential slowdown (if we had actually been experiencing one) may have been explained by a multitude of factors, including increased volcanic activity, solar cycle slow-downs or heat absorption mostly by the Pacific Ocean.
Nay-sayers, on the other hand, used the opportunity to attack climatologists and suggest that grave miscalculations may have caused a misguided focus towards fossil fuel emissions and their negative effects on global climate.
The study clearly shows that there is no such thing as a slowdown in global warming. It used measurements stemming from land stations, buoys and ships dating back to 1880. The results were immediately criticized by both sides of the climate-change debate. While Russell Vose, co-author of the study explains that the current trend is “in line with the trend since 1950,” critics believe that:
“It’s always good to go back and look at the data as carefully as possible and make sure it’s calibrated correctly. But the hiatus is history and it was real.”
This new study focuses on differences of a few hundredths of degrees. Consequently, some researchers highlight the fragility of the whole concept of the “global warming hiatus”. NOAA researchers insist that temperature measurements haven’t been accurate enough and that it’s precisely because of these inaccuracies that years of sea temperature increases could be masked.
For instance, measuring water temperature by scooping water in metal buckets is regarded as a wrong practice by NOAA. Water immediately starts to evaporate in such cases, so by the time a thermistor is stuck in a bucket, the water is already cooler. The research team calibrated its readings by taking into account the nighttime air temperature.
Despite widespread criticism, the NOAA research team stands by its results and points out that the results are not only real but grave.
“If anything we may still be underestimating the trend,” Thomas Karl, lead author said.
Scientists jumped at the opportunity of criticizing the research team’s results. Deeming it both speculative and “at odds” with already existent literature, critics insist that the paper only highlights marginal differences. These differences, they add, are only present because of the time intervals at which temperatures were measured.
It’s because of choosing to include only those measurements performed at “cherry-picked intervals” that the NOAA’s results differ from other global temperature graphs and data-sets provided by NASA or the UK Met Office.
“They do not include any data from the Argo array that is the world’s best coherent dataset on ocean temperatures.”
On the other hand, there are climate science experts who, despite not directly criticizing the NOAA research team’s paper, warn against dismissing the hiatus altogether.
Different data-sets support slightly differing theories and natural decadal variability is a reality. According to Tim Osborn, climate science professor at the East Anglia University, many studies have revealed unique geographical cooling patterns which support the idea of a global warming slowdown.
Other scientists aren’t surprised with NOAA’s results. The Australian Research Council’s chief investigator, Matthew England, reiterated his conviction that global temperatures haven’t stopped increasing.
Of course, it’s no novelty that politics will always interfere with science, especially in such important matters. Whether the current study will only serve as “ammo” for the next climate change conference taking place in Paris in December remains to be seen. But it isn’t clear whether scientists will be able to maintain the hype by then, as most likely, the paper’s premises will be dismantled in the following months.
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