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The Pause Is Back, It Never Went Away

July 22, 2016

By Paul Homewood    




Pronouncements of its death were premature – the pause has never gone away!


Despite temperatures peaking in February, just above the 1998 peak, satellite measurements show that temperature trends have only risen by a statistically insignificant 0.002C/year since 1998.

Pause deniers always object to comparisons with 1998. However, as we are now comparing two massive El Nino years, that objection no longer carries any weight.

That is not all. The strong La Nina event in 1999/2000 effectively cancelled out the 1998 El Nino, as far as trends go, as the Met Office explained in their 2013 paper, “The recent pause in global warming: What are the potential causes”:


The start of the current pause is difficult to determine precisely. Although 1998 is often quoted as the start of the current pause, this was an exceptionally warm year because of the largest El Niño in the instrumental record. This was followed by a strong La Niña event and a fall in global surface temperature of around 0.2oC (Figure 1), equivalent in magnitude to the average decadal warming trend in recent decades. It is only really since 2000 that the rise in global surface temperatures has paused.

 It remains to be seen whether we get a similar La Nina in the next 12 months, but even a return to average temperatures will see the above trend drop close to zero.


One question that is often raised is why temperatures are still close to record levels, even though El Nino conditions have largely disappeared. The answer is that there is always a time lag between ENSO changes, and the resultant impact on atmospheric temperatures, generally agreed to be between three and six months.

Below is a chart showing the timing of ENSO and temperature changes between January 1997 and December 1999:




The MEI (Multivariate ENSO Index) shows how the El Nino peaked in September 1997, whilst RSS temperatures did not peak until the following April.. Similarly, the subsequent La Nina bottomed out in February 1999, with temperatures not following suit until June 1999.


A similar chart for this year shows a five month between lag between the two peaks. It seems likely that the recent transition towards neutral ENSO conditions won’t be reflected in atmospheric temperatures until the autumn. Beyond that, it is crystal ball time!




One more thing to note. The MEI is actually a bimonthly assessment.

What I show as June, for instance, is actually May/June. ESRL, who operate the MEI state in their latest report, on 3rd July:

Positive SST anomalies cover much of the off-equatorial tropical Pacific, but cold anomalies are present right along the Equator east of 160W, as seen in the latest weekly SST map. This remains one of the more clear-cut cases where the bimonthly assessment in the MEI sense cannot keep up with the faster changes underway now.

It is therefore highly likely that, although they still show what they call a moderate El Nino, in reality the ENSO conditions in June were almost certainly in neutral territory.

Certainly, as far as NOAA’s weekly ENSO update now believes that is exactly where we are:







1) RSS


2) MEI

  1. July 22, 2016 8:34 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  2. joekano76 permalink
    July 22, 2016 10:15 pm

    Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth.

  3. July 22, 2016 10:21 pm

    Slightly OT, but Professor Wadhams ducked a £1000 bet with me on Arctic sea ice extent.
    See emails.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: P. Wadhams
    Sent: Friday, July 22, 2016 11:42 AM
    To: Don & Selina
    Subject: Re: Arctic ice free by September

    Dear Mr Keiller, Thanks but I don’t gamble. Nor do I make many of the
    definitive predictions attributed to me by newspapers, who, as the Brexit
    campaigns demonstrate, have little interest in truth and much in sensation.
    The area trend is certainly on the way down, and before long the area will
    drop below 1 million sq km, but not definitely this year, Yours sincerely,
    Peter Wadhams

    On Jul 21 2016, Don & Selina wrote:

    > Dear Professor Wadhams, I read this article with interest and a degree of
    > scepticism.
    > Are you prepared to put money on “an (ice) area of less than one million
    > square kilometres for September of this year’?
    > I am.
    > I challenge you to a Public bet of £1000 that Arctic sea ice will remain
    > above 1 million square kilometres at any point up to the end of
    > September.
    > Should be a sure thing for you, after all you are Professor of Ocean
    > Physics and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge
    > University.
    >And who am I? Dr Don Keiller, MA, PhD, Cantab.
    > I have also posted this email at “Tallbloke’s Talkshop”;
    >Best regards,
    >Don Keiller

    • tom0mason permalink
      July 23, 2016 7:16 am

      Some people already bet and lost on Wacky Wadham’s weird predictions —

    • manicbeancounter permalink
      July 23, 2016 7:57 am

      Prof Wadhams has a track record of making failed predictions of the end of summer sea ice. Maybe be should make small (or hypothetical) bets, and keep a record of his progress.

    • Powerful Pierre permalink
      October 9, 2016 2:24 am

      ‘Woeful Wadhams’ would probably be more accurate. This is someone so obviously out of touch with reality on many levels, as he demonstrates with another woeful comment on Brexit as a viable comparison. He does and has made definitive predictions, but fact surely supersedes prediction and demonstrate very clearly the paucity of the intellect, mathematical models and understanding that were behind those predictions. I am a simple engineer graduate who having been retired for several years has the time, and inclination, to dig deep, read widely, and understand as best I can what is going on with our climate, and the facts are, not much that couldn’t be expected from an understanding of climate cycles. During my working life I developed successful manufacturing businesses and paid many millions to the taxman (incidentally to support funding your lifestyle and academic life). So, I I have had to earn a living and I suggest my success implies having a good grasp of life and reality as well as a healthy respect for the understanding and intellect of most of my fellow citizens, irrespective of their academic qualifications or social background.
      As a start I suggest a good read for him and many others like him, as well as those who just want to get some reality into the climate change circus, would be ‘The Inconvenient Skeptic’ by John Kehr. But as it deals with unaltered facts and not fiction, and John Kehr doesn’t have Prof label attached to his name then possibly natural arrogance will overcome any desire from him for reality. Anyway it wouldn’t help to further the progress of his ‘grab train’ would it? If you get my drift!

  4. Broadlands permalink
    July 22, 2016 11:18 pm

    The Pause: “Pronouncements of its death were premature – the pause has never gone away!”

    How can something go away that NOAA says didn’t exist (is an artifact)?

    Arctic sea ice? This past June it averaged 4.09 million square miles,” the lowest in the satellite record for the month”. Yet, in August of 2008 it was half that at 2.03 million square miles. NASA’s Jay Zwally was quoted: “Within five to less than 10 years the Arctic could be free of sea ice in the summer.”

  5. July 23, 2016 1:23 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism.

  6. CheshireRed permalink
    July 23, 2016 7:08 am

    Oh dear, this isn’t going to go down well in alarmist circles at all.

  7. dennisambler permalink
    July 23, 2016 10:19 am

    You cannot have a pause in something which isn’t happening, ie Global Warming. Is it warmer now than the Little Ice Age? I hope so. Why should 1880 be considered a norm for temperature?

    Who decides what the correct temperature is for the planet and how do they hope to achieve it? Who gets to decide the best base period to choose when presenting temperatures as anomalies of say 1961-90, which had some of the coldest years of the 20th C, guaranteeing positive anomalies?

    GISS use 1951-80,
    They have an interesting FAQ which demonstrates just how nonsensical the claims of warmest ever etc, are.

    “Even at the same location, the temperature near the ground may be very different from the temperature 5 ft above the ground and different again from 10 ft or 50 ft above the ground. Particularly in the presence of vegetation (say in a rain forest), the temperature above the vegetation may be very different from the temperature below the top of the vegetation. To measure SAT we have to agree on what it is and, as far as I know, no such standard has been suggested or generally adopted.”

    “The reported temperature is truly meaningful only to a person who happens to visit the weather station at the precise moment when the reported temperature is measured, in other words, to nobody”

    “If SATs cannot be measured, how are SAT maps created ?
    A. This can only be done with the help of computer models, the same models that
    are used to create the daily weather forecasts. We may start out the model with
    the few observed data that are available and fill in the rest with guesses (also
    called extrapolations) and then let the model run long enough so that the
    initial guesses no longer matter, but not too long in order to avoid that the
    inaccuracies of the model become relevant.”

    “Q. What do I do if I need absolute SATs, not anomalies ?
    A. In 99.9% of the cases you’ll find that anomalies are exactly what you need,
    not absolute temperatures. In the remaining cases, you have to pick one of the
    available climatologies and add the anomalies (with respect to the proper base
    period) to it. For the global mean, the most trusted models produce a value of
    roughly 14 Celsius, i.e. 57.2 F, but it may easily be anywhere between 56 and 58
    F and regionally, let alone locally, the situation is even worse.”

    What is the average temperature of the earth? There is a massive difference of 149 C between the two recorded extremes of hot and cold. Minus 93C in East Antarctica and plus 56 C in Death Valley Arizona, divide by 2, I reckon it’s minus 18.5C, which is about what we are told the average surface temperature would be without “greenhouse gases”. That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.

  8. dearieme permalink
    July 23, 2016 10:39 am

    You can’t say it is a pause unless you magically know the future, specifically that the curve will turn up again. After all, the curve may turn down, so that it wouldn’t be a pause, but rather a turning point.

    • Broadlands permalink
      July 23, 2016 1:25 pm

      A turning point? That’s what we were told in the year 2000. After the previous climb, temperatures would continue to climb…NOAA, Met Office. Well, they haven’t. It was a turning or tipping or change point… the direction changed. Will it stop pausing? Who knows? Especially if it was a non-existent artifact.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 23, 2016 5:01 pm

        A trend is a trend is a trend. But the question is, will it bend? Will it alter its course through some unforeseen force and come to a premature end?

        Alec Cairncross, economist.

  9. Stonyground permalink
    July 23, 2016 12:10 pm

    ” Why should 1880 be considered a norm for temperature?”

    That is a very good point and, oddly, it made me think of the Body Mass Index or BMI as it is known. The BMI is used by government funded health watchdogs to berate us about our diet and exercise habits. Firstly is it a very crude indicator of overall health, it takes no account of the fact that people are of different build or that muscle mass weighs more than fat. Secondly, and this is where the 1880 parallel comes in, the actual data from the BMI are linked to a totally arbitrary scale with divisions between underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, and so on. At the age of 58, I am very fit, I am doing a half iron distance triathlon tomorrow. I have a 32″ waist. According to this arbitrary BMI scale I am overweight. The obesity crisis doesn’t really exist, it has been created by vested interests using dodgy statistics. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

  10. ray permalink
    July 23, 2016 4:14 pm

    There is often a further misunderstanding.

    A statistically significant trend in a time series may quite easily be an ACCIDENT.

    What is indicated with your favourite regression analysis, when the computer spits out a definite coefficient on the time variable? It is merely that the series is not strongly mean-reverting over the period.

    In other words, “a trend” shows that SOMETHING happened – which could be drift from a random walk, a non-linear trend, a shift, the resultimatum of different short-lived trends, etc.,etc.

    In any case, we should only be interested in DETERMINISTIC trends, which are never going to be easy finds, as time alone is not a causal variable but merely a proxy, in some situations, for such.

    If one has access to a maths computer program it is enlightening to PRODUCE random walks and then test them for “statistically significant linear trends.” These artifacts will be found to be common, especially with a little cherry-picking!

    The present (two decades) “pause” MAY well be a combination of a slight deterministic upwards trend combined with a slight random downwards trend. That is just another way of saying that natural variability is large compared to any effect from us. It MAY also indicate that an upwards deterministic tendency is at a turning point towards a downwards deterministic tendency. There are some plausible mechanisms for this.

  11. July 26, 2016 9:03 pm

    “why is there a pause when we are at record temperatures”?

    Why is their no gradient at the top of a hill?

    Why after climbing up up up … do we find that the gradient levels out – despite being at the highest point why is there a “pause” in the climb … at the highest point?

    (PS. No need to answer)

  12. Rob permalink
    July 28, 2016 2:57 am

    Its too early to call the continuation of the pause. The last time there was a big El Nino, in 1998, there was a step function increase in temperatures (compare the green line with temperatures before 1998). We still have to wait and see.

  13. August 27, 2016 7:07 pm

    As we all know and can see in the graphs, there are fluctuations all the time in climate. What matters is the trend. This may very well upturn soon, but it might not! Time will tell, which is what has previously been said.

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