Much has been made recently in media reports of the so-called "global warming pause" or "hiatus", a slowdown in the rate of increase of mean global surface temperatures over the past 10–15 years, as can be inferred from the graph below.
Although the causes of this slowdown are still being worked out, when one looks at the Earth's climate system as a whole, it is pretty clear that global warming is continuing unabated.
Global warming affects not just the atmosphere, but also the hydrosphere (i.e., the oceans), the cryosphere (i.e., snow and ice), and the lithosphere (the Earth's crust). The accumulation of energy produced by global warming thus can be expressed not only as a warming of the atmosphere, but also in terms of a warming of the oceans, melting of ice, or warming of the land surface.
A nice plot showing this energy accumulation is provided in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The energy accumulation is dominated by deep and upper ocean warming. The melting of ice and warming of the land surface are much smaller contributors, and the atmosphere even smaller.
|Source: IPCC AR5|