Slowdown in warming at the Earth's surface due to resume
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 23 August, 2014 - The Atlantic Ocean has masked global warming this century by soaking up vast amounts of heat from the atmosphere in a shift likely to reverse from around 2030 and spur fast temperature rises, scientists said.
The theory is the latest explanation for a slowdown in the pace of warming at the Earth's surface since about 1998 that has puzzled experts because it conflicts with rising greenhouse gas emissions, especially from emerging economies led by China.
"We're pointing to the Atlantic as the driver of the hiatus," Ka-Kit Tung, of the University of Washington in Seattle and a co-author of Thursday's study in the journal Science, told Reuters.
The study said an Atlantic current carrying water north from the tropics sped up this century and sucked more warm surface waters down to 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), part of a natural shift for the ocean that typically lasts about three decades.
It said a return to a warmer period, releasing more heat stored in the ocean, was likely to start around 2030. When it does, "another episode of accelerated global warming should ensue", the authors wrote.
Almost 200 governments aim to agree a deal to combat climate change at a summit in Paris in late 2015 and the hiatus has heartened skeptics who doubt there is an urgent need for a trillion-dollar shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies.
Several previous studies have suggested that the larger Pacific Ocean is the likely site of the "missing heat" from man-made greenhouse gases, perhaps linked to a series of La Nina cooling events in the Pacific in recent years.