Faux Pause, Part 2

February 12, 2014

As more research gives a clearer picture of global energy dynamics, we understand more clearly the gaps in our instrumental record.  Recent papers have shed new light on what the surface temperature record has been telling us for the last decade.  I’ve posted on one of those, now another.

Graham Readfern in The Guardian:

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.

When the salty water of the oceans heats up, it expands, pushing sea level higher. If ice that’s attached to land – such as the two major ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica – melt, they also add to the water in the ocean, further pushing up sea levels. Melting glaciers also add to sea level rise.

So what’s been happening while global warming was apparently having a holiday?

Here’s a chart from Australia’s CSIRO science agency showing sea level rise in recent decades. The drop you can see around 2011 was actually down to water being temporarily stored on the Australian land massfollowing the major flooding and rainfall event that year.

The cryosphere – the Earth’s icey areas – obviously don’t think much of the notion that global warming might have stopped.

A study last year in the journal Science looked at glaciers in all regions of the world. The study found that the world’s glaciers were melting at a rate of 259 billion tonnes a year between 2003 and 2009.

What about the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, which together hold about 99 per cent of the world’s fresh water?

Between 1992 and 2001, ice was melting from the two main ice sheets at a rate of about 64 billion tonnes a year, according to the latest IPCC assessment of the science.

From 2002 to 2011, the ice sheets were melting at a rate of about 362 billion tonnes a year – an almost six-fold increase.  What was that about a pause in global warming?

People suffering in extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, I would argue, don’t stand there muttering: “At least the average global temperature on the earth’s surface is 0.2C less than some climate models thought it would be.”

During this lovely comfortable hiatus when we’re told by some that global warming has stopped and so we can all stop being such worry pots, what else has been going on?

Australia has experienced its hottest year on record after the most widespread heat wave on record. The risk of bushfires is on the rise.

The UK is experiencing extreme flooding – again.

Other research has found that globally, all this extra warmth means that monthly heat records are being broken five times more often.

Even if we do want to look at globally averaged temperatures, the “hiatus” has given the world its hottest decade since records began in 1850.

We could go on and on.


A senior Oceanographer writes me:

“I think England et al. have identified the right reason for the lack of warming trend since 2001. The key news for me here is that it is not just run-of-the-mill ENSO variability, but in fact a highly exceptional strengthening of the trade winds (causing the prevalent La Niña conditions we’ve seen lately).
In other words it is not simply the usual chance occurrence of La Niña events, but there is a real significant change going on, as the trade winds have never been as strong as far as we have records.”


61 Responses to “Faux Pause, Part 2”

  1. […] Compare Trenberth’s quote to yesterday’s post on the role of Trade winds in ocean heating. […]

  2. Don’t look now, but 3.3mm/year is 11 inches SLR by 2100 at the current rate of the last 20 years. It will be higher by delayed melting. Deniers are still using the early last century rate, completely invalid. The 1900 to 2000 rise was 8 inches.

  3. omnologos Says:

    Do we all agree now on the following?

    1. The Earth’s global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001 (the “hiatus”)

    2. In other words, since 2001 here has been a slowdown in surface warming

    3. The central and eastern Pacific sea surface temperature is cooler than expected

    4. Climate models perform badly at forecasting the observed increase in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades

    5. The hiatus could continue for as long as the trade wind trends continue, perhaps to 2020.

    • For the Nth time, there is no “pause” or “hiatus”. Please do read this post by Tamino:


      And tell me where the hiatus is? Every point from 1998 and on is above the trendline, and shows perfectly that there has been no change to the amount of warming. Its clearly maked by 1998 as an anomalous hot weather out of the standard deviation along with 3 cooler years at the end which were all just a tad below the trendline.

      I simply cannot see any hiatus from this data unless you only draw a line from 1998 to 2011,2012 or 2013 – but that is pure cherry picking as have been repeated over and over again.

      Please tell me omno, what do you think is wrong with this information Tamino shows?

      • I meant to write “almost every point is above the trendline” not every. If anything there has been a tendency of more warming than 1979 to 1997.

      • omnologos Says:

        JCL – I quoted almost verbatim from the abstract of England et al.


        • And that article say “the Earth’s global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001” – so over the past 13 years. Can you draw any conclusion from 13 years even though the statement is true?

          I did the same exercise as Tamino using the HadCrut4 dataset, and indeed if you draw a trendline from 2001 to 2013 you actually get a weak cooling trend, but in spite of this 9 out of these 13 years have temperatures above the trendline from 1979 to 2000. I made an image of that here:

          To me that simply tells me that some major La Ninã events (as we have had lately) has just created a few years of cooling over this short time span so that any new trend you draw will give these too much of an emphasis.

          I’d also like people to consider that if 1998 had been a neutral year (0.28 anomaly instead of 0,53) the majority of cool years are very close to the trendline while the ones above it are way out there with exceptional warming. This is exactly why this past decade was the hottest ever recorded and a clear step up from the previous decade.

          So there really is no “pause” or “hiatus”, if anything this past decade has had accellerated warming with so many points above the trendline.

          • omnologos Says:

            John – I made a specific statement in accordance to what published in a major journal by mainstream scientists in a peer reviewed article positively reported upon by the Guardian and Peter.

            It seems that all agree that “hiatus” is an appropriate term when the appropriate timeframe is specified.

            Now tell me if you disagree instead with that and why.

          • I disagree that this time frame of atmospheric fluctuation in temperature is of any relevance to the actual signal of warming that is so evident. I think a lot of articles around this has been well written such has “Does the global warming ‘pause’ mean what you think it mean” om SkepticalScience:


            I still believe the average temperatures to be an artifact of a couple of things:

            – a strong El Ninõ in the start of the series with a strong anomaly in 1998
            – any temperature thereafter will very likely be below
            – an over emphasis on a short term trend while the majority of points are above the trend line up to the last decade
            – an ocean current incident that has brought more cool waters than warm waters in the ENSO cycle towards the end of the data series
            – IPCC models did not “roll” natural variations in this particular order of events

            So even though scientists address this as a “hiatus” – its really to explain that natural variations can create periods where a short term trend looks flat just like many models also predict. The paper you linked from Nature, explains one natural variation – and more importantly perhaps an emergence of new patterns in the climate system.

            But neither of this reduces the fact that the warming signal is clearly there as the physical processes has not changed. New patterns in how the oceans bring cold or heat out into the atmosphere does not change the fact that its more likely to bring out heat than cold as the warming continues. Neither does it suddenly create a black hole in the center of the earth where cold water is created to cool the planet in the coming decades.

          • omnologos Says:

            John – you should try to be less rationalising. I have asked you about A and you have now replied twice about B.

            Question…is there a ‘hiatus’? Answer: yes there is under very strict conditions, as described for example by England et al. For example there is a hiatus _since 2001_.

            Right? Wrong?

            The answer to this question does not depend on the relevance of the ‘hiatus’ on the long term signal. However, inability to respond affirmatively makes one wonder how weak the argument must be, if not an inch must be given to the ‘opposing side’.

          • Why should I not be rationalising? You are fishing for the wrong replies as you are after replies on a definition of “pause” and not the meaning of it. I am commenting on a temperature “artifact” that emerges from natural variations. There is no INFORMATION in this.

            The INFORMATION is that the warming is still present, and it will continue as the physical properties for it is still around.

            Why are you even interested in a reply? Are you trying to discredit scientists?

          • omnologos Says:

            Such a paranoia is unjustified. Why would I discredit ‘scientists’ when all I am doing is agree with them?

            It’s you the one disagreeing and making a silly, non-scientific defense of some inner credo. Am not fishing for wrong replies either, you have provided it already.

          • Eh, non-scientific? I just showed you a graph of actual measured values (not even a model in sight) and how meaningless the “hiatus” is the context of the reality, that the majority of temperature points are above the trend line.

            You said: “Do we all agree now on the following?

            1. The Earth’s global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001 (the “hiatus”)”

            So to reply you on this, yes a statistical isolation of the 2001-now temperatures is a “hiatus”, but no – its not what you think we are agreeing on, and why does this even have any relevant information in the long run?

            So my question to you is why do you want us to agree on the first point?

          • omnologos Says:

            Like with the 1970s global cooling consensus, it’s a simple test for honesty. It took 3 or 4 replies but finally you did it – you agreed with caveats, as any reasonable person would.

            All too often all one gets is stonewalling, and that is very consistent with not having a honest, open-minded interlocutor.

          • Which is why in the long run I believe the “hiatus” to be a scientific side-track for the climate-nerd that basically is about understanding why we in this instance got several La Ninã’s after a major El Ninõ. I am sure the people studying ocean circulation have a lot of interesting research around this ahead. But this is all in the ” weather noise”. The big picture here is really, do we have enough information to act and reduce CO2 emissions? Anyone saying that we need all the details of this “hiatus” to understand climate is basically just doing so to stall any change. There isn’t any credible competing hypothesis that say this marks the start of a decline in average global temperatures.

          • omnologos Says:

            You’ve read on these pages the difference between being certain and having doubts. So you should have understood all your agitation is nonsensincal.

            You or I or anybody else know zero about the total future length of the hiatus. We only know that it’s been happening since 2001, according to England et al (other scientists might change that date slightly). We also know that the world has been warming, if a longer timeframe than “since 2001” is used.

            If the hiatus is noise or isn’t, we will only know when it stops and the temperatures start increasing again (or they go decreasing, throwing in an unexpected surprise).

            In fact, there have been enough explanations for the hiatus to show that it is considered by most if not all scientists an important thing to study, in order to understand the climate. Not sure how many more Nature pieces you’d need before getting that.

          • You are pointing directly to why we should NOT consider the “hiatus” a cause for stalling action, because people like you making conclusions on wrong information think this is yet a cause for stalling action on cutting CO2 emissions. Over and over you show that you simply “do not get it”. You say I am agitating, and of course I am, because as I mentioned several times you are “fishing” for a notion that this “hiatus” has any meaning in the long run and I desperately try to tell you it doesn’t. I have said over and over that there is no change to the underlying physical properties of global warming no matter how many La Ninã’s the oceans manage to pump out in the near future – even if they last till 2020. Because even with these, the oceans are warming up as we are nowhere near equilibrium with regards to incoming and outgoing energy from the system. Tell me where this heat goes? Does it disappear in a black hole in the center of the earth?

            Obviously your idea is that the “hiatus” is the start of a change towards colder temperatures again – again fishing for the “uncertainty”. But there really is no uncertainty about the humans CO2 input to continued global warming – absolutely none at all! It’s all made up in your head, possibly based on “hope” or plain denial of physical facts – perhaps you can care to tell us all what it is?

            The ENSO is only affecting the noise, global warming is caused by how much energy the earths whole system is able to absorb. How many times do we have to repeat this?

          • omnologos Says:

            You’re hallucinating. I honestly do not remember when I argued for ‘stalling action’…a challenge to you and other to find a comment of mine saying that, has been left unanswered.

            I have not said that this hiatus has any meaning in the long run (I stated that we will only know about it in the long run).

            I have not claimed the world is not warming, so it’s pointless to ask me where does all the heat go.

            I have not said that the hiatus is the start of a ‘change towards cold temperatures again’. I listed that as an unexpected surprise, were it to happen. ‘Unexpected’ as in ‘I don’t expect it’.

            I am sure there are many people who have to repeat many things when they say it whilst suffering hallucinations. Please let me know when you feel better and start responding to my real points and not to your imaginary ones.

            In the meanwhile, Nature Climate Change is interested about the hiatus. Perhaps you can discuss with them and let them express your certainty that the hiatus has no meaning in the (future) long run.

          • So what is your point exactly? Why do you even post a summary of what you believe the “hiatus” means?

          • omnologos Says:

            John – I have made several points. First of all and most important, I have shown that the hiatus is not an invention by evil skeptic, rather a scientifically accepted word for what has been happening to global temps since 2001.

            I have also listed other parts of the England et al’s abstract, containing what should be by now uncontentious claims, including the inadequacy of climate models in getting the Pacific circulation right.

            I have also made the point that, not unexpectedly, several commenters here do not read the original material, not even the abstracts, so it’s surprising for them when somebody tells them what the scientists actually said – see MorinMoss’s answer, or even yours, when you both have no idea you are arguing vs the science, and not me.

            This is quite useful to know. There are some demigods you guys listen to, and if Tamino or the Guardian says something, you believe that no matter what the actual scientists have said. This explains why there are so many silly comments about my person, made by minds that are lost at sea when the demigods are silent.

          • No Omno, you pointed to one paper in Nature about the “hiatus”, most likely the whole idea of calling this a “hiatus” is because right wing media has been attacking climate science with it. Again I say, does the pause mean what you think it means? Its really only natural that some scientists actually pick up this research to better understand why the oceans in this round gave us more La Ninã’s than normal, but hey look at this ENSO data and tell me, is it really unusual? :


            I mean we perfectly know the ENSO is somewhat unpredictable, that is why climate models don’t do well on predicting them much like they cant predict a massive volcano that will cool of the planet as well. And they do poorly on predicting when they do rapid warming like 1998 as well. And neither were they able to predict that the sun went into a low sunspot cycle. After all they don’t have crystal balls.

            And you are under the wrong impression that we are arguing vs the science. Most scientists including the ones that presented IPCC AR5 answered when they were presented by this idea of a “hiatus” (by none other than the imbecile David Rose) that the underlying facts around warming does not change in spite of there being a natural variation on top. Naturally he as well as much of the right wing media did not listen to the information but was more focused on that the scientists still hadn’t invented a perfect crystal ball to predict the weather.

            I don’t regard Tamino any demigod than you do Anthony Watts. I just feel Tamino presents science much clearer than an in depth paper can do and drill to the core of the essence – in other words convey information and not uncertainty.

          • omnologos Says:

            John – your debating skills need improvement. I haven’t just quoted a Nature Climate Change article. I have quoted the NCC article that is the basis of the blog post we are commenting.

            When you disagree with England et al’s definition and use of hiatus, you disagree with them, not with me.

          • Well, I do agree with their definition of “hiatus” – which is basically a meaningless definition of anything in the big picture – but still an interesting research topic for those interested in ocean currents and trade winds. The only difference between this “hiatus” and the many other ones that you can cherry pick from previous sets of measurements is perhaps that this went over a decade so far.

            When I read the blog entry and the NCC article I read this:

            Peters article say: “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 NCC article say: “This hiatus could persist for much of the present decade if the trade wind trends continue, however rapid warming is expected to resume once the anomalous wind trends abate.”

            So I am not sure what kind of information you drew from Peters post and the NCC article from England? Again I ask you to enlighten us with your understanding of this science. You have hinted that this article has uncertainty about what happens after “the anomalous wind trends abate” to quote the article.

            Oh perhaps I can do the 6th bullet point you forgot in your list:

            6) Rapid warming is expected to resume once the anomalous wind trends abate.

            Not telling the full story is also considered a way of lying and deceiving you know?

          • uknowispeaksense Says:

            Dude, you’ve been sucked into the strange troll world I like to call Omnolot. Like Camelot in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, it’s a silly place.

          • JCL, unknowispeak, omnolot indeed. He is attempting to argue that a dataset too short to be of statistical significance is significant. I.e., his argument – forget statistics, omni, no science, knows better. Omni says noise equals data. So does Rudolph the Red know better. He knows rain, dear 🙂 Omni has noooo understanding of probability and statistics and thinks the math can be debated, or even stupider, proof by debate. Why not proof by arm wrestling? Divining? Entrails? Science schmience. Who needs it. College degree? Reading scientific studies? No no no sea omni. Proof by rhetorical semantics. Without humor. I would not kid you. Evah.

          • Omno, Going against the grain, I thought that the exchange between you and JCL was interesting. Well played.

            One question. As the conversation progressed, I began to wonder if you’re doubting your post – “Why AGW Is Logically Impossible”. Did I misinterpret you?

          • omnologos Says:

            Yes Charles. AGW is not “impossible”, rather its fervent proponents make it so by concocting the most absurdist ideas (like for example the “weather isn’t climate unless we say it is” that we’re witnessing in these days – or “the IPCC projections are for 2080 but we look for them in 2014” – and so on and so forth).

          • So are you saying you don’t like the way other people communicate the science? There are indeed hyperbolic statements from the “we’re all doomed” and the “we don’t know” tribes. (IMO, Peter is a centrist.) Meanwhile, the physical world doesn’t care about any of our opinions. AGW is what it is. Learning about the details of when, where, and how it is and will affect weather patterns is an interesting work in progress.

          • omnologos Says:

            Charles – I agree. But we don’t learn about the world by telling us stories. Is there a pause in warming? “Faux Pause” isn’t an answer to that, it’s a lie. The pause/slowdown/hiatus isn’t “faux”.

            The answer is “Yes but” followed by an explanation. Some will say “Yes but it’s too short a time” (but not too short for Nature Climate Change). Other will say “Yes but we’ve got an explanation for it” and/or “Yes but we expect temperature to increase again from the year 20xx”. Etc etc.

            That’s the scientific stance (the last two are England et al.’s answers). Tamino playing again with statistics, not so much.

          • I notice you and others consider the Tamino link I showed “playing with statistics”, but if anything he haven’t fell to the conclusion that the new max temperature in 1998 was the new mean temperature. Any “pause” or “hiatus” only exists if you suddenly draw the high temperature at 1998 and some following years as the new mean temperature that all following ones should be measured towards. But the climate system doesnt work that way, the heat that went out in the air in 1998 didnt necessary all stay in the atmosphere or go into the water again – a substantial lot of it was lost into space which is basically how Earth has a chance to thermally regulate itself. But as long as the CO2 level is so high a substantial amount of this will be returned to earth, hence the warming signal is still present when you look at the total energy balance. Tamino show perfectly that he is drawing the mean from previous temperatures and showing clearly that 1998 and many others are indeed above the actual mean. But added up they all follow the trend really which we all know from the actual forcing from the CO2 component.

            The same can be said about the Arctic ice. “Look look, recovery” was the story peddled in media about 2013 – while most scientists said they were observing nothing more than a return to mean. 2012 ice extent was an outlier event just like 1998 temps, and hence you cant suddenly compare the following years to that to draw any conclusions.

            So the whole idea of a “pause” falls flat and should be correctly observed as a “faux pause” based on wrong assumptions about what the “new mean” is. What’s interesting though is how earth ocean systems actually produce these wild natural variations in atmospheric temperature through the ENSO, but those are really details in the noise of the signal which is clear consistent warming as Tamino shows clearly.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      1) Wrong. See Tamino’s post on this

      2) In other words, still incorrect, especially given that we’ve also seen dramatic Arctic / Greenland melting. FYI, the energy needed to melt ice would raise an equivalent amount of water from room temperature to the boiling point.

      Also, please refer to the statement above, graciously provided by your host, indicating a substantial increase in the frequency of monthly heat records.

      3) I don’t know. What temperature was expected?

      4) For the moment, it seems so. Unlike super models, climate models improve with age so this is not a permanent state. And climate models are one tool, research, observation, inference & analysis do occur even in the absence of perfect modeling

      5) We don’t know. Is your prediction based on a sophisticated climate model?

  4. omnologos Says:

    The climate is changing every few years.

    In 2006 the Pacific circulation including the trade winds were weakening exactly as the models predicted http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2006/walker.shtml

    Further weakening was expected for the future in a 2010 review http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n6/full/ngeo868.html

    Then in 2011 “…the long-term trends of indices representing the North Atlantic Oscillation, the tropical Pacific Walker Circulation, and the Pacific–North American pattern are weak or non-existent over the full period of record.” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qj.776/abstract

    All it takes is patience, and a suitable paper will pop up, somewhere.i

  5. dumboldguy Says:

    Looked at this thread, and once again found a thread being turned into an “All About Me” discussion by O-Log. I want to thank JCL for having the patience and persistence to continue to try to break through O-Log’s thick shell of confirmation bias, although it was quite tiring for me to witness. At my age, it is tough to knock a few points off my IQ reading the babblings of a fool and having JCL’s interjections quickly put them back–like mental pushups (except that I feel strangely dumber than when I started reading).

    I will second JCL’s question to O-Log—“How many times do we have to explain this to you?”

  6. omnologos Says:

    Christopher – I am not arguing that “a dataset too short to be of statistical significance is significant”. First of all the 2001-now dataset is made scientifically significant by the scientists that work about it: so if Nature Climate Change talks about it, then that fact alone makes 2001-now an interesting climate-related observation.

    Secondly in my rephrasing of England et al.’s abstract, there was no mention of statistical significance.

    As I keep telling people here, reply to me and not to your imaginary friends.

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