Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

‘Pause’ in global warming a result of gaps in data, finds new research

Ice caps - Gerald Simmons via Flickr

New research published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Metrological Society has explained that the global warming ‘pause’ is a result of gaps in the data available.

Kevin Conway, from the University of York, and Robert Way, from the University of Ottawa, who both contribute to Skeptical Science, noted that the Met Office data only covers about 84% of the Earth’s surface. As a result, there are large gaps, mainly in the Arctic, Antarctic and Africa, where temperature monitoring stations are scarce.

The researchers used satellite information to deduce temperatures on the ground and oceans and fill in the gaps. By including these temperatures in global estimates, the average global temperature increase went from 0.046C per decade to 0.11C.

The researchers said, “These results indicate that the slowed warming of average global surface temperature is not as significant as previously believed.”

Speaking to the Independent, Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said, “The problem with the polar areas lacking data coverage has been known for a long time, but I think this study has basically solved it.

“People will argue about the details, as is normal in science, but I think basically this will hold up to scrutiny.”

The authors of the report have now launched a crowdfunding appeal through Skeptical Science to enable them to provide free, open access to the paper. They added this would allow others to investigate, build on, improve, correct and if necessary refute their work.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that global temperature increases have slowed down since 1998. One of the theories for the hiatus was that the ocean has absorbed the additional heat.

A separate study suggested that the international ban on ozone depleting chemicals could have unintentionally caused a slowdown in global temperature increases since the mid 1990s.

Further reading:

Global warming slowdown linked to ban of ozone depleting chemicals

Governments to read IPCC draft with global warming ‘slowdown’ top of the agenda

2013 currently joint-seventh warmest year since records began in 1850

Climate scientists ‘95% sure’ that global warming is manmade, says leaked IPCC document

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