Despite the fact that that global warming slowdown - an issue that has caused much controversy - has long passed, numerous scientists continue to argue over the details of the pattern and what it means for current climate change. Back in February, a group of scientists released a commentary in Nature Climate Change that criticized those who ignored or dismissed the 13-year slowdown as insignificant.
"We shouldn't sweep the early 2000s warming slowdown under the rug," said meteorology professor Michael Mann, one of the authors of the commentary.
From 2001 to 2014, temperature measurements at the surface of the Earth show a decline in the rate of global warming before increasing again in 2014, which became the hottest year on record. However, this record didn't last long, as 2015 easily beat it the following year.
Prior to 2009, scientists struggled to explain this "hiatus," although now we know that it was likely caused by strong trade winds in a slow-moving Pacific Ocean, pushing more heat than usual into the depths of the oceans. This caused an increased sea-level rise due to the rising ocean temperatures coinciding with the slowdown at the Earth's surface.
"The temporary slowdown in no way implies that human-caused warming has ceased or slowed down," Mann said. "It was temporarily masked by natural factors."
Mann and his team believe that understanding the existence of the slowdown can help us continue to focus on the problem of climate change now that the hiatus controversy has been laid to rest.
"Given the intense political and public scrutiny that global climate change now receives, it has been imperative for scientists to provide a timely explanation of the warming slowdown," they wrote. "Despite recently voiced concerns, we believe this has largely been accomplished."
The team also believes that using the terms "global warming hiatus" or "pause" should not be used as they are misleading, leading to the recent climate trends to be framed "in an unfortunate way," pushing instead to refer to the event as a "reduced rate of warming" or "temporary slowdown."
Stephan Lewandowsky, who led last year's study that concluded "there is no evidence that identifies the recent period" of warming as "unique or particularly unusual," claims that his study addressed different questions than those brought up by Mann's team and, in fact, he agrees with them.
"They share our view that warming never stopped, and we don't actually disagree at all," he said.