A cooler Pacific Ocean has brought a “hiatus” to global warming for now, according to climate scientists on Wednesday. The flattening off of a rise in the world’s average surface temperatures for the past 15 years was attributed to the Pacific Ocean.
That leveling off spurred skepticism that global warming was real. However, researchers behind the latest study see it as a temporary hiatus that won’t last too long.
USA Today reports that Shang-Ping Xie, senior author of the study published in Nature, commented, “Our results strongly confirm the role that [man-made] emissions are having on the climate.”
The so-called hiatus in global warming has resulted in average surface temperatures stuck around 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal for the past 100 years.
While the top 10 warmest years on record have all come since 1998, none looks particularly warmer than the other. While the cause of the global warming plateau has been debated by several, Xie believes his theory is correct.
Yahoo! News notes that when the Pacific Ocean returns to its warm phase, the long-term trends in global warming will likely increase. That includes global temperatures rising faster.
Xie and his colleagues came to their conclusion by using climate models to reproduce trends both long-term and short-term. The models were based on global climate records from the past 130 years. The researchers discovered that, while global warming was present, the Pacific ocean’s surface temperatures were cooler.
The cooler body of water was able to pull the temperature curve down, acting, as Xie explained, “almost like an equilibrium.” But that equilibrium will change when the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperature returns to a warm state. The Earth experienced cooling in the tropical Pacific from the 1940s until the 1970s. It then saw a warm state from the 1970s until the 1990s.
With that in mind, it will likely be another 10 years before the Pacific Ocean returns to a warm cycle. With the warming state, scientists expect global warming temperatures to rise faster than they have been.
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