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The ‘pause’ in global warming is not even a thing

Earth and Climate Change

The IPCC in 2013 pointed out that more than 90% of the world?s extra heat is being soaked up by the oceans, rather than lingering on the surface. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Getty Images


Powered by article titled “The ‘pause’ in global warming is not even a thing” was written by Graham Readfearn, for on Wednesday 12th February 2014 03.19 UTC

The idea that global warming has “paused” or is currently chillaxing in a comfy chair with the words “hiatus” written on it has been getting a good run in the media of late.

Much of this is down to a new study analysing why one single measure of climate change – the temperatures on the surface averaged out across the entire globe – might not have been rising quite so quickly as some thought they might.

But here’s the thing.

There never was a “pause” in global warming or climate change. For practical purposes, the so-called “pause” in global warming is not even a thing.

The study in question was led by Professor Matt England at the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre.

England’s study found that climate models had not been geared to account for the current two decade-long period of strong trade winds in the Pacific.

Once the researchers added this missing windy ingredient to the climate models, the surface temperatures predicted by the models more closely matched the observations – that is, the actual temperature measurements that have been taken around the globe. England explains the study in this YouTube video.

Climate scientist Professor Matt England explains his study on the influence of Pacific trade winds on global temperatures.

England told me:

Global warming has not stopped. People should understand that the planet is a closed system. As we increase our emissions of greenhouse gases, the fundamental thermal dynamics tells us we have added heat into the system. Once it’s trapped, it can go to a myriad of places – land surface, oceans, ice shelves, ice sheets, glaciers, for example.

England explained how the winds help the ocean to absorb heat into the thermocline – that’s roughly the area between 100 metres and 300 metres deep. He says once the trade winds drop – which is likely to come within years rather than decades – then the averaged surface temperatures will rise sharply again.

Media outlets across the world have extensively covered England’s paper. National Geographic told us the study revealed how the heat had been “hiding” in the oceans.

Over at the ABC, we were told the paper gave an explanation for “a pause in global warming” and that “over the past 15 years the rate of global warming has slowed – and more recently almost stalled.”

On The Conversation, we had “Global warming stalled by strong winds driving heat into oceans”.

Even though these reports spoke in detail about the complexity of the research (England feels the coverage generally has been very good), they could inadvertently cement the idea that global warming has in some way stopped, when it hasn’t.


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