A new study published online Thursday in the journal Science finds that the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20th century.
NOAA said the study refutes the notion that there has been a slowdown or "hiatus" in the rate of global warming in recent years. The study is the work of a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information, using the latest global surface temperature data.
"Adding in the last two years of global surface temperature data and other improvements in the quality of the observed record provide evidence that contradict the notion of a hiatus in recent global warming trends," Thomas R. Karl, director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, said in a statement. "Our new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century."
The apparent observed slowing or decrease in the upward rate of global surface temperature warming has been nicknamed the "hiatus." The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report, released in stages between September 2013 and November 2014, concluded that the upward global surface temperature trend from 1998-2012 was markedly lower than the trend from 1951-2012.
Since the release of the panel’s report, NOAA scientists have made significant improvements in the calculation of trends and now use a global surface temperature record that includes the most recent two years of data, 2013 and 2014 — the hottest year on record, according to the statement.
The calculations also use improved versions of both sea surface temperature and land surface air temperature datasets. One of the most substantial improvements is a correction that accounts for the difference in data collected from buoys and ship-based data.
Prior to the mid-1970s, ships were the predominant way to measure sea surface temperatures. Buoys have since been used in increasing numbers. Compared with ships, buoys provide measurements of significantly greater accuracy.