Climate Science

Seasonal Subtleties

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Science  09 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6073, pp. 1148
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6073.1148-b

Much has been made of an alleged lack of global climate warming over the past decade, a condition to which climate change deniers repeatedly have referred in their attempts to argue that global temperatures do not support the consensus view that climate warming is continuing as expected. Have we been looking in the right place for evidence that climate still is getting hotter, though? Cohen et al. provide evidence that we have not. Using a combination of observational data and climate modeling for the period between 1988 and 2010, they show that warming has continued apace and that the seeming slowdown in the upward march of global annual average temperatures is a reflection of marked seasonal differences: Only in the winter has it not gotten warmer. Therefore, by looking only at yearly averages, some have missed the warming that never has stopped and have been afforded a chance to argue incorrectly that global warming is a fiction, even though both the observational record and climate models clearly show that pauses in the temperature rise lasting decades are both common and expected for a warming climate.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L04705 (2012)

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