Hannah Devlin, science correspondent
Wednesday 3 May 2017 18.03 BST
An apparent hiatus in global warming that spawned a decade-long controversy has had no impact on long-term climate projections, a detailed analysis has concluded.
The slower rise in temperatures from 1998 to 2012 has repeatedly been cited by climate sceptics as a sign that the climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought – or even that global warming has stopped. The latest study rejects this view, suggesting that there was ultimately no meaningful deviation between what climate models predicted and what was observed.
Iselin Medhaug, who led the work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, said: “In the beginning there seemed to be some sort of discrepancy and some people concluded we can’t use these models for anything. That isn’t true.”
The analysis also aims to reconcile a series of seemingly contradictory findings on whether the so-called pause even took place. At times this has created the perception that scientists disagree on the basics of what the data show – let alone what is projected to happen in the future.
The new paper, which takes a retrospective look at data and model predictions covering the early 2000s, suggests that this has been largely a false controversy caused by competing research groups applying different criteria for what a “pause” constitutes – how much levelling off and for how long – to a variety of datasets.