A new paper by Risbey et al. examines the so-called “pause” in global temperature, and demonstrates convincingly that it wasn’t a real phenomenon, it was just random fluctuation that can look like a pause all along. I’ve been saying this for some time now. I’m also a co-author on the paper.
Much of the heart of the matter is the statistics behind the issue, a topic which I (and my regular readers) know pretty well. You can find this discussed in the paper, in numerous other papers, and in quite a few posts on this blog. The bottom line is: when claims of a “pause” or “hiatus” or “slowdown” are actually put to the test, they fail. Sorry, Charlie … no pause.
But this paper also gathers together lots of information about the claims of the pause. I was surprised to learn that there are over 200 published papers discussing it as though it were a real phenomenon! Most take its existence as their starting point, as a given, and those few who do actually test the question, have tended to leave out some crucial statistical aspects (e.g. the “multiple testing problem/selection bias problem”).
There’s also a surprising amount of confusion about just what and when the pause was. Not only are the start and end times all over the place, things are vague enough that in a great many papers it’s just not possible to pin down when the pause took place.
And there’s some interesting discussion about the social aspect of the “pause” claim and its effect on the public discourse. The paper is open access, I recommend a good read.
A companion paper by Lewandowsky et al. goes a step further, testing claims about a supposed “pause” in comparison to model projections of temperature change. It too is open access. Spoiler alert: dead pause.
UPDATE: An interesting take on the issue in The Conversation by Stephan Lewandowsky and Kevin Cowtan, two other authors on this pair of papers.
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