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Climate Change, Continued


The new issue of Nature Climate Change delivers a massive, multiple slap-down to the notion that the much touted ‘hiatus’ or ‘pause’ in global warming since the late 1990s means that the climate isn’t changing, or the globe warming.

The Telegraph ran a piece in 2006 with the headline: ‘There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998.’ In 2012, the Mail announced that ‘global warming stopped 16 years ago.’ But media coverage of the hiatus ‘really picked up steam in 2013’, Maxwell Boykoff writes. At the same time, ‘recent polling has found that the proportion of US citizens who believe that climate change is not happening has increased by seven percentage points since April 2013.’

All the hiatus actually means, as Lisa Goddard puts it, is ‘that globally averaged air temperatures have not increased as quickly in the past decade as they have in previous decades’.

And Sonia Seneviratne and colleagues argue that ‘the term pause, as applied to the recent evolution of global annual mean temperatures, is ill-chosen and even misleading in the context of climate change.’ Averages are one thing, extremes another, and ‘analyses based on observational data reveal no pause in the evolution of hot extremes over land since 1997’:

not only is there no pause in the evolution of the warmest daily extremes over land but… they have continued unabated over the observational record. Furthermore, the available evidence suggests that the most ‘extreme’ extremes show the greatest change. This is particularly relevant for climate change impacts, as changes in the warmest temperature extremes over land are of the most relevance to human health, agriculture, ecosystems and infrastructure.

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