For those who wish to deflect attention away from action on climate change, one go-to argument is the data that suggests a hiatus in global temperature rises between 1998 and 2013. However, a new study by climate scientists at Stanford University has concluded that the so-called hiatus was evidence of nothing more than ‘faulty statistical methods’.
‘Our results clearly show that, in terms of the statistics of the long-term global temperature data, there never was a slowdown in global warming,’ says Noah Diffenbaugh, Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University. The study re-analysed the original temperature data and found that the statistical methodology used in previous studies, developed for fields including biology and medicine, were not ideal for studying such geophysical processes as global surface temperatures. They concluded that the rate of change in global surface temperature was not statistically distinguishable between the recent period and other periods earlier in the historical data.
‘Analysing the long-term data in a rigorous statistical framework, it’s clear that, even though climate varies from year to year and decade to decade, global temperature has increased in the long-term, and the recent period does not stand out as being abnormal,’ says Diffenbaugh.
This article was published in the November 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine.