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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid