Unabated global surface temperature warming: evaluating the evidence

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 13:40
3009 (Moscone West)
Thomas Richard Karl and Anthony Arguez, National Centers for Environmental Information, Asheville, NC, United States
New insights related to time-dependent bias corrections in global surface temperatures have led to higher rates of warming over the past few decades than previously reported in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2014). Record high global temperatures in the past few years have also contributed to larger trends. The combination of these factors and new analyses of the rate of temperature change show unabated global warming since at least the mid-Twentieth Century.

New time-dependent bias corrections account for: (1) differences in temperatures measured from ships and drifting buoys; (2) improved corrections to ship measured temperatures; and (3) the larger rates of warming in polar regions (particularly the Arctic). Since 1951, the period over which IPCC (2014) attributes over half of the observed global warming to human causes, it is shown that there has been a remarkably robust and sustained warming, punctuated with inter-annual and decadal variability. This finding is confirmed through simple trend analysis and Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD). Trend analysis however, especially for decadal trends, is sensitive to selection bias of beginning and ending dates. EMD has no selection bias. Additionally, it can highlight both short- and long-term processes affecting the global temperature times series since it addresses both non-linear and non-stationary processes. For the new NOAA global temperature data set, our analyses do not support the notion of a hiatus or slowing of long-term global warming. However, sub-decadal periods of little (or no warming) and rapid warming can also be found, clearly showing the impact of inter-annual and decadal variability that previously has been attributed to both natural and human-induced non-greenhouse forcings.