News / Science & Technology

Global Warming Slowdown Trapped in Ocean

General view of beach shows breaking waves along the ocean beach front in Biarritz on the southern Atlantic Coast of France, Feb. 6, 2014. Global warming is in a temporary hiatus, in part because of heat absorbed deep into the Atlantic and Southern oceans.
General view of beach shows breaking waves along the ocean beach front in Biarritz on the southern Atlantic Coast of France, Feb. 6, 2014. Global warming is in a temporary hiatus, in part because of heat absorbed deep into the Atlantic and Southern oceans.
Rosanne Skirble

A climate change mystery is coming into sharper focus.

A new study released in the journal Science explains why despite the rise of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, global warming has slowed over the last 15 years. Some scientists point to the cooling effect of volcanoes or changes in solar activity.  

Lead author and University of Washington applied mathematics professor Ka Kit Tung suggests massive movement of heat from shallow to deep regions of the ocean is responsible.

“From the energy standpoint, the warming does not just warm the surface. It should warm the whole ocean column," said Tung. "There is evidence that the integrated temperature of the whole ocean column has been increasing even through the current period of pause.”

Global warming heat stored in Atlantic, Southern oceans

Ninety-three percent of the excess heat caused by global warming gases is stored in the oceans. Tung used underwater sensors to measure the temperature at various depths in the water column over the last three decades of the 20th century. Climate models indicated that the Pacific Ocean was hiding the heat.

But observations showed the heat is sinking deep in the Atlantic and Southern Oceans, part of a natural 30-year cycle. Tung said the current phase, with cooler temperatures at the ocean surface, started in 1999 when the rapid warming of the last century slowed down. “And we are currently in the middle of this 30-year period where more heat is going into the ocean, Tung said, “That’s why what [heat] remains near the surface has not been much, not much warming.”    

Salty seawater triggers heat migration into ocean depth

Tung's study finds that the excessive heat now stored in the ocean depths moves like a conveyor belt between the north and south poles. The warm water becomes saltier as it travels through the subtropics because there is more evaporation of surface water at those latitudes.

Salty seawater is heavier and sinks, making the sea surface - and the air above it - cooler. Tung said that accounts for the warming pause we’re experiencing now. Temperatures will rise, however, when the ocean cycle flips to its warm phase. “The rate of surface temperature increase will be just as high, or even higher, than what we experienced in the last three decades of the 20th century. But the actual temperature that it starts with is now the highest temperature, but it is going to go up very rapidly. So the next phase of accelerated warming is going to be very damaging.”

The current global warming slowdown, Tung predicts, could last a decade or longer.

 

 

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Science Officer from: Earth
August 22, 2014 1:59 PM
Odd, the rate of sea level rise has slowed, commensurate with the "pause" in atmospheric temperatures. You'd think all the heat in the oceans would make them expand and sea levels would rise faster. Now we have another mystery to solve


by: Asok Smith
August 21, 2014 10:07 PM
I'm confused. I thought the "science" was settled.

In Response

by: Terry from: Western us
August 23, 2014 2:39 AM
I get tired of hearing the debate about climate change is settled. No "theory" that continually does not produce the projected results is settled. Every time things don't go the way the alarmists project they produce another theory as to why. They said themselves in this report that the earth goes through cycles of temperature fluctuation that can last up to 70 years. That meanes the last 100 years of warming, minus the last 15 years it didn't warm could be a natural cycle. We need to be good stewards of our planet but not destroy our economy based on unproven theory.

In Response

by: ReduceGHGs from: Oregon
August 22, 2014 11:08 AM
The science regarding the core issue is settled; Humans are warming the planet and the consequences are not good. To avoid confusion read what the experts have been saying for years. Google: NASA Climate Change Consensus


by: BigBob from: USA
August 21, 2014 9:13 PM
The big run-away green house is just a scare tactic to scare dumb weak minded folk to vote for surrendering extremely large amounts of tax money to greedy university profs. and other dishonest government officials. If you only knew the funds these greedy swindlers took in. Don’t forget crony capitalism like Solarendra and GE. Have a big green time while they suck green dollars from your pockets. One of the heads of IPCC Dr. Michael Mann and colleagues had all their top secret emails flooded into public domain where all could see the giant scam. You would think it would have been the end of the issue. But no! Way too much money to be made yet. Liberals run the government and liberals almost never indict fellow liberals. That’s because they are all a bunch of hippy crooks! You don't think I have proof ? Where has the social security funds gone to?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid