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25 August 2014 | by Gabor Chodkowski-Gyurics

Oceans key in explaining “pause” in global warming: study

Oceans key in explaining “pause” in global warming: study
A study published in last week’s Science magazine claims to have found a reason for the alleged slowdown of global warming in the last 15 years that has been puzzling climate researchers. The finding suggests that the heat - which should be steadily increasing given current energy balance - might be stored in the depths of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans, not the Pacific Ocean as has previously been suggested.

“The finding is a surprise, since the current theories had pointed to the Pacific Ocean as the culprit for hiding heat. But the data are quite convincing and they show otherwise,” professor Ka-Kit Tung, author of the study, said as quoted by the Guardian. He also said that his research complements, rather than invalidates earlier findings. “We are not downplaying the role of the Pacific. They are both going on; one is short term [the Pacific], one is long term [the Atlantic].”

According to the study, the effect was triggered by a shift in the salinity of the north Atlantic around the turn of the century, as surface water there became saltier and more dense, sinking and taking surface heat down to depths of more than 300 metres. The process was described as a natural cycle and the study suggests that in about 15 years the oceans will release trapped heat will, leading to another episode of accelerated warming at the surface.


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