Because every tenth of a degree of global warming matters not just to the planet but also in the highly charged political debate over climate change, researchers once again have analyzed ocean temperature readings over the past 75 years. Their findings refute the already debunked contention that warming paused from 1998-2012.
Using a global network of buoys, robotic floats and satellites to trace the rise of sea surface temperatures, the study, published Jan. 4 in Science Advances, shows there was no slowdown in the pace of global warming. The scientists concluded that oceans have warmed consistently over the previous 50 years, at about 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade, nearly twice as fast as previous estimates of 0.07 degrees Celsius.
The so-called hiatus was widely reported and used by climate science deniers to bolster their political opposition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
But in 2015, a study led by scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded that the supposed pause was based on an inconsistency—between ocean temperature measurements collected by ships over the past 100 years and more accurate data collected by modern instruments designed for climate monitoring.