Strong Pacific trade winds keeping global surface warming under check
Researchers have claimed that strong Pacific trade winds have driven more of the heat from global warming into the oceans.
However, the researchers also said that when the winds slow, that heat will rapidly return to the atmosphere causing an abrupt rise in global average temperatures
Heat stored in the western Pacific Ocean caused by an unprecedented strengthening of the equatorial trade winds appears to be largely responsible for the hiatus in surface warming observed over the past 13 years.
The research indicates that the dramatic acceleration in winds has invigorated the circulation of the Pacific Ocean, causing more heat to be taken out of the atmosphere and transferred into the subsurface ocean, while bringing cooler waters to the surface.
Professor Matthew England, lead author of the study and a Chief Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, said that but the heat uptake is by no means permanent: when the trade wind strength returns to normal - as it inevitably will - our research suggests heat will quickly accumulate in the atmosphere.
He said that so global temperatures look set to rise rapidly out of the hiatus, returning to the levels projected within as little as a decade.
The new research has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
(Posted on 10-02-2014)