Wed. Feb 20th, 2019

There Has Never Been a ‘Pause’ in Climate Change Australian Scientists’ Study Finds

Researchers from Australia have shown proved there has never been a ‘pause’ in global warming like previously thought. There has been some recent public discussion about the possibility that there had been a ‘hiatus’ or ‘pause’ in global warming in the last two decades.

This suggestion motivated scientists from the CSIRO in Australia to re-examine the scientific literature and data on trends in global mean surface temperatures (GMST). After an extensive investigation, they have found that there is no ‘meaningful statistical evidence to support the notion of a pause in global warming.’

There was no pause says, lead scientist.

“There was no pause,” says CSIRO climate researcher Dr. James Risbey, co-author of a paper published in Scientific Reports this week. “The warming trends in GMST over the period of claimed pausing are not uniquely different to any other global warming trends over the period of modern global warming.”

Initially, the research group which included Dr. Risbey and his colleagues from the CSIRO, Stephan Lewandowsky at the University of Bristol and Naomi Oreskes at Harvard University, looked at the way ‘hiatus’ or ‘pause’ was mentioned and defined in 44 scientific papers relating to climate change published between 2009 and 2015.

Reviewing this literature showed that there were no consistencies in the definition of the pause, with it being meant to have started sometime between 1993 to 2003 and lasting from anywhere between 10 to 20 years.

“When we analysed the statistics for short-term trends against each paper’s claimed start and end dates for a pause, we found no exceptional differences from the overall trends for global warming,” Professor Lewandowski said.

Climate change deniers spread misinformation

Usually, there need to be about 17 years of data for statistical trends related to GMST detected. 

“When we considered 17-year long sets of data, we found significant warming trends throughout the entire period of modern global warming, including those alleged pause periods,” says Dr. Risbey.

So if there is no evidence, why is there such a strongly held belief that there has been a pause in global warming? 

Stephan Lewandowsky says the spread of the idea of a pause may have come from scientists trying to explain the data they have found that shows at some points over the last two decades global warming increased at a slower than average rate. However, it never actually stopped or paused.

The research group suggests that the difference in the way scientists and the general public understand such concepts has been the problem in the way this is understood. 

“Some scientists talk about a pause when referring to the slower than average warming periods,” says Dr. Risbey.

“But the public may believe the terms pause or hiatus imply global warming is actually stopping, which is not the case.”

The team believes that climate change skeptics have seized upon the use of this term to try and promote the idea that climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenon not influenced by human behavior.