There’s no “warming pause” — trade winds are burying heat in the Pacific
Global average land temperatures have not increased as quickly as many scientists had expected over the past 10 or 15 years, leading some climate skeptics to latch onto the bogus idea of a “global warming pause.” Last year researchers reported that much of the “missing heat” was not in fact missing but rather was being sucked up by the oceans.
Now new research helps explain why excess heat is being absorbed into the sea: big winds.
A paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that the slowdown in surface warming and the acceleration in ocean warming has been largely driven by a phase in a natural ocean cycle called the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). That’s a frightfully cumbersome name, but it’s easy to break down: It’s a swing (“oscillation”) in Pacific Ocean weather that takes decades (“interdecadal”) to shift from one phase to another. Instead of switching every few years, like El Niño and La Niña, an IPO can last 20 to 30 years before flipping from one extreme to the other.
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