Skip to content

The truth about the global warming pause

June 29, 2017

By Paul Homewood

GWPF’s David Whitehouse responds to the UEA’s Philip Williamson’s earlier article in the Spectator:


Between the start of 1997 and the end of 2014, average global surface temperature stalled. This 18-year period is known as the global warming pause, also sometimes referred to as the global warming hiatus. The rise in global temperatures that alarmed climate campaigners in the 1990s had slowed so much that the trend was no longer statistically significant. It has been the subject of much research and debate in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Global surface temperature between January 1997 and December 2014


Then, in the spring of 2015, El Niño, a warm ocean phase in the equatorial Pacific developed. It rapidly drove up global temperatures by 0.5°C in less than a year. In fact, the 2015/16 El Niño turned out to be the strongest such event in recorded history and helped to make 2015 and 2016 the warmest years in the modern warm period.

This El Niño spike encouraged a number of climate activists and campaigners to claim that the warming pause was now over for good. Some said we were on the verge of runaway global warming. Others even denied that a hiatus ever existed.

One of these scientists is Dr Phil Williamson from the University of East Anglia. Writing in the Spectator, he rather confusingly claims that the non-existent pause ‘ended’ when there was a sudden rise in global temperatures in 2015 and 2016. Climate activists make much of the recent run of these record-breaking warm years, but they are quite wrong to blame climate change. These records are primarily a product of El Niño, a short-term and entirely natural ocean phase that habitually drives up global temperatures for a short period of time.

It is obvious that the sudden rise in temperatures during the most recent El Niño was far too fast to be the result of long-term global warming. After all, global temperatures have risen very gradually by 1°C in the last 150 years or so. Williamson is also wrong in claiming that global temperatures have not dropped since the end of the El Niño spike. Since it peaked last year, they have declined by 0.4°C. They are now almost back to where they were before the start of the El Niño:

I noted in an earlier article that the world’s media were ignoring research papers in mainstream scientific journals that showed that global temperatures had slowed or stalled.

This attitude is noteworthy and seems to be the new norm. Last week, a group of climate scientists who have analysed temperature data from the lower atmosphere concluded that since around 2000 there had been a hiatus in temperature increases, stressing that this was inconsistent with what is known about natural climatic change. What is more, computer climate simulations, so central to the case for climate alarm, did not predict this might happen and cannot explain why it did. This is another important paper confirming the existence of the hiatus, and another case of the mainstream media’s lack of interest.

Still, many climate activists claim that the ‘missing heat’ must have gone into the oceans. In reality, the evidence is not as clear as they maintain. The best data we have to throw some light on ocean temperatures comes from the ‘Argo’ system of monitoring buoys which are now giving us unprecedented levels of high-quality observational data. Yet a recently published analysis shows that for the past decade or so, although average global ocean temperatures have slightly increased, the oceans of the northern hemisphere and indeed most of the southern hemisphere have not warmed at all. Warming, the Argo buoys show, is coming from just one region of the South Pacific.

The lesson of the pause is not that the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist, but rather that the computer models, which predicted an acceleration in global warming, and on which current policy is based, have proved to be inaccurate. Nevertheless, the pause is an important event that enriches our understanding of a highly complex climate system. In the future, a long-term rise in global temperatures may resume. There is a good chance, however, that the recent super El Niño only interrupted the 1997-2014 pause. No-one knows. But if the pause were to resume or warming keeps slowing down, many of the fundamental assumptions of climate science would have to be re-assessed.

Dr David Whitehouse is the science editor of the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  1. Don B permalink
    June 29, 2017 1:08 pm

    In August, 2014, the alarmist New York Times actually ran an article in which they conceded there was a global warming slowdown.

    “There’s been a burst of worthy research aimed at figuring out what causes the stutter-steps in [global warming] — including the current hiatus/pause/plateau that has generated so much discussion.”

  2. Dung permalink
    June 29, 2017 1:21 pm

    From one point of view we should be worried by a prolonged hiatus. Based on recent (in geological terms) history we would expect the planet either to warm up and indicate an end to the ice age have been experiencing for 10,000 plus years or to get colder indicating that the ice age is going to continue (bye bye human civilisation in at least the northern hemisphere). Those who are worried by any warming are ignorant beyond description.

    • Theyouk permalink
      June 29, 2017 3:45 pm

      Quite well-stated, Dung.

      If you told the average person on the street that Earth is at 400 ppm of CO2 and that CO2 was causing ‘dangerous’ warming, that person would likely be in favor of eliminating CO2 altogether from the atmosphere. And if one were to replace ‘average person’ with ‘typical US congressman’, the answer would likely be the same. Welcome to the age of the scientifically illiterate and ignorant society…They’d gladly choose a path that would lead to their own death, all based on feelings they’ve been told they were supposed to have.

    • gallopingcamel permalink
      June 29, 2017 5:13 pm

      What we need is more warming. If I thought that more CO2 would cause temperature to rise I would be saving up to buy a Hummer.

      • JustAnOldGuy permalink
        June 30, 2017 2:12 am

        Save your hard earned dollars/pounds/euro’s/florins/guilders/Maria Theresa Thalers – whatever. Just keep opening lots of beers. All of those tiny bubbles add to the ppm’s. And if you’re really sincere brew your own beer, ferment your own wine, bake your own yeast bread. Every little bit counts. Or doesn’t, maybe.

  3. CheshireRed permalink
    June 29, 2017 1:40 pm

    Alarmists have been absolutely horrified by the pause because its been undermining AGW theory more than any single issue, especially since the IPCC and UK Met Office BOTH acknowledged its existence, an admission that caused absolute fury in AGW circles.
    Most of ‘climate science’ is done at a level the general public can’t see or understand but a real-world, real-time lack of warming is an entirely different matter. It’s Kryptonite to alarmism and they know it, hence concerted attempts to pretend it didn’t (or isn’t) happening. How can there be 50+ papers on something that didn’t occur?! I hope the current fall-off from El Nino drops like a stone. That’d put the cat amongst the pigeons.

    • Broadlands permalink
      June 29, 2017 3:37 pm

      Red… You are right. There were a number of peer-reviewed papers explaining the “hiatus” before it was labeled an artifact by Karl et al. One of those papers in SCIENCE was pushed to the back in favor of the Karl et al. paper…a record fast publication? Now, because of the 2015-16 ENSO, the existence of the “hiatus” is no longer an artifact… because the pause is over? Historians will look back at this with puzzlement.

      • June 29, 2017 9:29 pm

        Yes, as Paul H says they claim the thing that is supposed not to have existed is allegedly over. These ridiculous contortions just remind everyone what an empty box the theory of man-made climate change is.

    • Sheri permalink
      June 30, 2017 11:59 am

      I have not seen any warming or any hiatus. I have read about the anomaly from the average GAT and seen graphs. I have no real world evidence of any climate change—it’s quite cool here this morning with no wind (even though wind was forecast to be high). The forecast calls for 90°F for the next four to five days, longer on most charts. I doubt that forecast, but considering the complete inaccuracy of weather forecasts, I am within the bounds of evidence to do reject it. The temperature yesterday was a -24°F drop from Wednesday’s high near 90°F. I see nothing but the usual weather that I’ve seen for decades. Anything else would be beliefs stuck in my head by the news and acedemia. The real world says nothing about warming or cooling. The weather continues to vary as it always has.

  4. AlecM permalink
    June 29, 2017 3:20 pm

    Real AGW has nothing to do with CO2 because that is balanced by the water cycle. It’s driven by Asian aerosols raising [CCN] pending change of recovery processes. That involves slight change of oceanic and atmospheric convection and increased convection.

    We engineers call this a PID process, and it has operated for the past million years, hence limiting surface temperature range to ±6 K.

    I pity the climate fraudsters because they have failed to make their fake fizzicks stick despite the bet efforts of the IPCC publicity organisation.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      June 29, 2017 4:38 pm

      Wish that your view was right Alec. From where I sit, the believers own the ball, the ref and the goals, we are just tolerated on-lookers. I had great hopes in Trump, still the only visible challenge to the controlled meja / political apologists etc. Sadly, they don’t bother with facts as they have a model and a belief, which trumps Trump so far anyway.

      Considering the meja control of information it is amazing that the man n the street is not more convinced than he is: fortunately, they have learned that snake oil salesmen take many forms.

      • dave permalink
        June 29, 2017 5:12 pm

        Well, I still hope that Trump is “doing a McCavity” and “stifling Peke’s.”

        The proportion of Americans who think the USA’s economy is at least partially fair has risen from 45% to 61% in the brief period Trump has been in office. So, it is not always the showy stuff that matters.

        As for “statistically significant trends…blah, blah”…

        …for the millionth time…


        Just do some computer simulations, if it seems “impossible!”

        It merely means that the drunk, after enough lurches, is found by the police a significant distance from the the pub’s exit door. And they might not even be sure which pub he emerged from!

  5. June 29, 2017 3:34 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  6. June 29, 2017 4:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  7. Roger Simms permalink
    June 29, 2017 5:58 pm

    the climate has always changed, check it out the facts are all there, Al gore has the right to his own opinion, but not his own facts ,every one must open their eyes, just follow the money, money pays for this propaganda, it lines the pockets of these untrustworthy bent scientists, have you noticed they all have Nobel prizes,check this out, most do not have this honour, it is a false claim, they are strangers to the truth.

  8. A C Osborn permalink
    June 29, 2017 6:00 pm

    Whilst this going on the MSM is in scare mode overdrive, these in the Daily Mail onlie
    This one from the UN
    and this from an idiot at the Uni of Leeds

  9. Jorg Lovoll permalink
    June 29, 2017 7:46 pm

    The fact that temperatures have fallen near the poles should be expected because melting ice sucks heat from the sea. It could well be a really bad omen.

  10. markl permalink
    June 30, 2017 3:33 am

    Scare mongering into the future eventually catches up with the false pretenses. We are already into the ‘future’ of AGW scare mongering and nothing has materialized. How much longer will it take for the people to wake up? I think they are slowly waking up but I am biased. For all the smear directed at Trump there is one fact that is gaining steam…. the MSM is full of shit and the people know it.

    • dave permalink
      June 30, 2017 8:10 am

      “…how much longer…”

      It will take until the red line goes to -0.6 which would be the lowest average reading since satellite records begin – at which point we can shout “coldest year EVAHH!”

      Until then, the people will slumber.

  11. June 30, 2017 8:45 am


    Just in from The Australian. The science is not settled now it seems from the scraremongers.

    The Australian4:00PM June 30, 2017
    Share on Facebook
    Share on Twitter
    Share on email
    Share more…
    Environment EditorSydney

    Climate models were wrong and being updated to better reflect the results of satellite temperature measurements that confirmed a slowdown in temperature rises over the past two decades, a group of leading climate scientists has said.

    The admission is contained in a new paper published in Nature Geoscience, which says natural factors and unforeseen events were responsible for models overestimating the temperature rise in the troposphere.

    Natural variability included El Nino and La Nina weather patterns and long cycle movements in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

    Unforeseen factors that contributed to cooling included volcanic eruptions, a weaker sun in the last solar cycle and a rise in pollution from coal-fired power plants in China.

    The paper, “Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates”, is the latest shot in an ongoing scientific row over the pause or slowdown in the global temperature rise over the past two decades despite a big increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

    Authors on the paper included Benjamin Santer from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US, Michael Mann from Penn State University and Matthew England from the University of NSW.

    Sceptics have claimed the paper as evidence to support the “pause”.

    But authors said the paper ruled out claims the atmosphere was less sensitive to carbon dioxide or that future warming was not a concern.

    “None of our findings call into question the reality of long-term warming of Earth’s troposphere and surface, or cast doubt on prevailing estimates of the amount of warming we can expect from future increases in GHG concentrations,” the authors said.

    Researchers found that internal variability could explain differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends in the last two decades of the 20th century.

    But it could not explain the divergence for the past two decades, the time of the “pause”.

    “We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations,” it said.

    Unlike many high-profile papers, only the abstract was made publicly available and there was no announcement of its release.

    However, in a question and answer paper published by Nature, the authors said one of the lessons learned was that “forcing matters”.

    “If we systematically misrepresent these external influences in model simulations, we’ll see differences between modelled and observed warming rates,” they said.

    “We need to do a better job understanding how these external influences actually changed in the real world, and we need to put our best estimates of these forcing factors into model simulations.”

    Another lesson was that “natural internal variability matters”, particularly when comparing modelled and observed temperature changes with different sequences of internal variability, and over short periods.


  1. ok...I'm confused. the models don't predict this pause but they are still correct long-term? how do we know this? there also seems to

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: