Global Warming Pause/Hiatus/Slowdown in the Literature

Recently, I have had numerous discussions with colleagues about the prevalence of the global warming pause/hiatus/slowdown (GW-P/H/S) in social media, and the relative influence of these terms in the literature. To assess the GW-P/H/S from a quantitative perspective, I was curious to see the story that publication metrics had to show. Using the still handy Web of Science (I wish Google Scholar had data access tools), I searched for "global warming pause", "global warming hiatus", and "global warming slowdown" under topics. I plotted up the total number of yearly publications with time (from 1990-present) along with the yearly number of citations of these papers.

Here are the results:


The results were surprising to me. 'Hiatus' was the clear GW-P/H/S winner in terms of both, number of publications and citations. The spike in citations for 'hiatus' begins around 2012-13, while the spike in number of pubs is overwhelming in 2014 - which probably indicates a couple of really influential papers written in 2011-13. These include Kosaka and Xie, 2013 and Meehl et al., 2011, leading the hiatus pack with a whopping 120+ total cites each, followed by England et al., 2014 and Balmaseda et al., 2013 with ~70 cites a piece.

'Slowdown' comes in second, though, this result is trickier than it seems. There were many more spurious hits here (many articles related to [pale]oceanographic slowdown of the AMOC) and the highest cited paper that was related to the global warming slowdown was, again, England et al., 2014, which also featured in the 'hiatus' count. The next, most-relevant article which was #22 on the total citation list for 'slowdown' was Guemas et al. 2013 at 40. So, 'hiatus' seems to be more popular than 'slowdown'.

Lastly, 'global warming pause' only had 25 papers, featuring Guemas et al. 2013 (again) at the top spot.

Well, there you have it: hiatus > slowdown > pause. Not too surprisingly perhaps, 3 out of the 5 papers that I have mentioned here were published in Nature Climate Change. Personally, I prefer slowdown, but that's for another post.