Is global warming on hiatus? After the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) published a 2015 study that removed the pause in global warming from temperature records, scientists have been unable to agree on the integrity of this move. Now, a new data set shows that this removal may have been justified and points to the perceived pause in global warming as a result of errors in the data set.
Carl Mears, the scientist who runs the Remote Sensing System temperature data tracking and released the finding, applied a fix to a discrepancy in the data gathered from 15 satellites and claims that his conflict is what led to the initial reports of a global warming hiatus.
"There are people that like to claim there was no warming; they really can't claim that anymore," Mears said.
The 15 satellites in polar orbit are supposed to go over the same location at the same time as they circle from the north and south pole. However, some satellites drift from their orbit, which leads to slight alterations in their afternoon and evening measurements, causing some readings to shift to the warmer end of the spectrum and others to the colder end.
Mears made adjustments to these discrepancies by using data gained from three satellites that had thrusters on them, allowing them to remain in their proper orbit and helping him decide on the necessary adjustments. The differences between the data gained from the satellites were the main motivation for Mears' new findings.
"If the differences hadn't been there, I wouldn't have done the upgrade," he said.
Mears claims that global warming is evident not only in his new data, but also when looking at numerous other studies in recent years that show the changes in the Earth's response to the climate over the last two decades.
Still, other groups continue to counter these claims, with a recent study suggesting that although global warming may not be on hiatus, it is slowing down. After correcting biases in global temperature data, the team revealed a decline in the warming.
"There is this mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what the observations are showing," said John Fyfe, a climate modeler at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis. "We can't ignore it."