This was one of the biggest climate change questions of the early 2000s: Has the Earth’s heat run stopped, even as humans pumped more heat-trapping gases into the Earth’s atmosphere?
turn of the century, science Understanding of climate change has taken holdDecades of research have shown that global temperatures are rising as carbon dioxide is accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation that store carbon. However, weather records seem to show that global warming slowed between 1998 and 2012. How is this possible?
After careful study, the scientists discovered that the apparent pause was a small problem in the data. In fact, the planet has continued to warm. However, the blip drew a backlash from climate skeptics and scientists. It can serve as a case study of how public perception affects what science does, for better or worse.
As scientists accumulate data on Earth’s average surface temperature year after year, the mystery that has since been dubbed the “global warming hiatus” has surfaced. Some organizations maintain their own temperature datasets; each relies on observations collected at weather stations and on ships and buoys around the world. The actual amount of warming varies from year to year, but overall, the trend is rising, with record-high heat years becoming more common.This 1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reportFor example, he noted that recent years have been the warmest since 1860.
Then there was the powerful El Niño of 1997-1998, a weather pattern that moved a lot of heat from the oceans into the atmosphere. As a result, Earth’s temperature soared — but then, according to weather records, it appeared to drop dramatically. Average global surface temperature increased between 1998 and 2012 less than half of the period from 1951 to 2012. That doesn’t make sense. Global warming should accelerate over time as people increase the rate at which endothermic gases are added to the atmosphere.
By the mid-2000s, climate skeptics had seized on the “global warming has stopped” claim. Most professional climate scientists don’t study this phenomenon because most people think that the apparent pauses fall within the natural temperature range. But public attention quickly caught their attention, and researchers began investigating whether the suspension was real. It’s a dramatic shift in scientific focus.
“In studying that anomalous period, we learned a lot of lessons about the climate system and the scientific process,” said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist now at technology company Stripe.
By the early 2010s, scientists were busy explaining why global temperature records appeared to be leveling off.ideas include contributions Cooling sulphur particles from coal-fired power plants and Heat absorbed by the Atlantic and Southern OceansThis type of study is the most focused attempt ever to understand what drives year-to-year temperature changes. They reveal how much natural variability can be expected when factors such as a strong El Niño are superimposed on long-term warming trends.
Scientists have spent years investigating so-called warming pauses — investing more time and resources than they would otherwise.So many papers are published on apparent pause that scientists start joking about the journal natural climate change Its name should be changed to natural interruption.
Then in 2015, a team led by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published Eye-popping conclusions from journals science. Global temperature rise has not leveled off; instead, incomplete data have masked ongoing global warming. When more Arctic temperature records were included and biases in ocean temperature data were corrected, the NOAA dataset showed that warming continued. With the newly revised data, the apparent pause in global warming disappeared.A sort of 2017 Research Hausfather’s leadership confirmed and extended these findings, as other reports.
Even after the studies were published, disruption remained a hot topic for climate skeptics, who used it to argue that global warming concerns were overblown. Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas who chaired the House Science Committee in the mid-2010s, was particularly angry about the 2015 NOAA study. He demanded to see the underlying data, while also accusing NOAA of tampering with the data. (The agency denies fabricating the data.)
“In retrospect, it’s clear that we were too focused on the obvious disruption,” Hausfather said. It’s important to figure out why the global temperature record appears to have leveled off between 1998 and 2012 — but it’s also important to maintain a bigger picture of the broader understanding of climate change. Hiccups represent brief swings in a longer, more important trend.
Science relies on testing assumptions and questioning conclusions, but here’s a case where it’s fair to say exploring anomalies goes too far. Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol who has studied climate scientists’ responses to disruptions, says this has led researchers to doubt their conclusions and spend a lot of time questioning their well-established methods. Scientists whose research was interrupted could have worked to provide policymakers with a clear message about the reality of global warming and the urgency of addressing it.
The debate over whether the disruption is real has sparked public confusion and undermined efforts to persuade people to take aggressive action to reduce the impact of climate change. That’s an important lesson forward, Lewandowsky said.
“My sense is that the scientific community is already moving forward,” he said. “By contrast, the politicians behind organised denial have learned a different lesson that the ‘global warming has stopped’ meme is so effective at stoking public complacency that they take advantage of every opportunity. “
He noted that some climate deniers are already talking about a new “pause” in global warming, as not every year of the past five years has set a new record. However, the general trend remains clear: global temperatures have continued to rise in recent years. The seven warmest years on record have all occurred since 2015, and every decade since the 1980s has been warmer than before.