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MYTH #45: It hasn't warmed since 1998


So 1998 was a warm year, but since then, global warming has stopped.


2005 was hotter than 1998, and the ten hottest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years.

As our climate changes, some years will be warmer than others. Yes, 1998 was unusually warm (partly it because was a strong El Niño year). But overall, 2005 and 2010 ⎯ which were tied for the warmest years on record, globally ⎯ were both hotter, and the 10 hottest years on record have all happened since 1998. Scientists have observed rising temperatures, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, melting Arctic sea ice, and increased humidity over the last several decades. The full range of available data since 1880 conclusively shows the world is warming. And we can expect that trend to continue as long as humans send carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

Additional info from Skeptical Science 

No, it hasn't been cooling since 1998. Even if we ignore long-term trends and just look at the record-breakers, that wasn't the hottest year ever. Globally, 2010 and 2005 were tied for the hottest years on record. 

Though humans love record-breakers, they don't, on their own, tell us much about trends — and it's trends that matter when monitoring climate change. Trends only appear by looking at all the data, globally, and taking into account other variables — like the effects of El Niño or sunspot activity — not by cherry-picking single points. 

There's also a tendency for some people just to concentrate on air temperatures when there are other, more useful, indicators that can perhaps give us a better idea of how rapidly the world is warming. Oceans, for instance — due to their immense size and heat storing capability (called "thermal mass") — tend to give a much more "steady" indication of the warming that is happening. When we look at ocean temperatures, records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there are no signs of it slowing anytime soon. 

Adapted from © John Cook and Skeptical Science