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The “pause” in global warming: turning a routine fluctuation into a problem for science

Citation

Lewandowsky, S and Risbey, JS and Oreskes, N, The 'pause' in global warming: turning a routine fluctuation into a problem for science, American Meteorological Society. Bulletin, 97, (5) pp. 723-733. ISSN 0003-0007 (2016) [Refereed Article]


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DOI: doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-14-00106.1

Abstract

There has been much recent published research about a putative "pause" or "hiatus" in global warming. We show that there are frequent fluctuations in the rate of warming around a longer-term warming trend, and that there is no evidence that identifies the recent period as unique or particularly unusual. In confirmation, we show that the notion of a pause in warming is considered to be misleading in a blind expert test. Nonetheless, the most recent fluctuation about the longer-term trend has been regarded by many as an explanatory challenge that climate science must resolve. This departs from long-standing practice, insofar as scientists have long recognized that the climate fluctuates, that linear increases in CO2 do not produce linear trends in global warming, and that 15-yr (or shorter) periods are not diagnostic of long-term trends. We suggest that the repetition of the "warming has paused" message by contrarians was adopted by the scientific community in its problem-solving and answer-seeking role and has led to undue focus on, and mislabeling of, a recent fluctuation. We present an alternative framing that could have avoided inadvertently reinforcing a misleading claim.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:global warming, pause, fluctuation, discourse, climate science
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Climate change science
Research Field:Climate change processes
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Risbey, JS (Dr James Risbey)
ID Code:118400
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:58
Deposited By:Directorate
Deposited On:2017-07-11
Last Modified:2017-10-17
Downloads:151 View Download Statistics

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