Sunday, February 09, 2014
A Cool Pacific Breeze Masks Global Warming
Consider it, at best, a reprieve. "It" is the recent slowdown in the rate of global warming surface temperatures. A team of American and Australian researchers have concluded the slowdown is the result of stronger winds over the Pacific.
A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday said stronger Pacific trade winds - a pattern of easterly winds spanning the tropics - over the past two decades had made ocean circulation at the Equator speed up, moving heat deeper into the ocean and bringing cooler water to the surface. The winds have also helped drive cooling in other ocean regions.
"We show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades is sufficient to account for the cooling of the tropical Pacific and a substantial slowdown in surface warming," said the study, led by scientists from the University of New South Wales in Australia.
It will be interesting to see how this theory holds up over 2014 and 2015 should an anticipated El Nino develop. While 2013 was rated the fourth or sixth warmest year on record, it was actually the second warmest year since 1850 that didn't have an El Nino event. A report last month forecast a doubling of El Nino events this century and an increase in their intensity.
Best enjoy the reprieve while it lasts.