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Study links stronger Pacific trade winds to pause in global warming

Study links stronger Pacific t...
Heat stored in the Pacific Ocean could be a ticking climate time bomb (Photo: Shutterstock)
Heat stored in the Pacific Ocean could be a ticking climate time bomb (Photo: Shutterstock)
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Heat stored in the Pacific Ocean could be a ticking climate time bomb (Photo: Shutterstock)
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Heat stored in the Pacific Ocean could be a ticking climate time bomb (Photo: Shutterstock)

Despite an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that warming trends over the past century are most likely the result of human activities, some claim that a plateau in global surface air temperatures since 2001 is evidence to the contrary. However, a new study suggests the recent stabilization of air temperatures is a result of abnormally strong east to west trade winds, causing warmth to be stored temporarily beneath the western Pacific ocean.

The joint research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change and conducted by Australian and US researchers, outlines an unprecedented intensification of trade winds, easterly surface winds swirling about near the Earth's equator, which has accelerated the circulation of the Pacific ocean.

This causes heat to be drawn from the atmosphere into the waters below the ocean's surface and the colder water to rise to the top, ultimately leading to cooler average global temperatures.

“Scientists have long suspected that extra ocean heat uptake has slowed the rise of global average temperatures, but the mechanism behind the hiatus remained unclear," said the study's lead author, Professor Matthew England of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

According to the researchers, the strengthening of the Pacific trade winds actually dates back to the 1990s. Climate models used previously had not been able to account for the stalling of global surface temperature, as they didn't incorporate the strengthening of these winds.

When England and his fellow researchers added data from the heightened winds to their modeling, they found it accounted for a cooling of 0.1 to 0.2° C (0.18 to 0.36° F) in the 2012 global average surface air temperature, very closely mirroring the offset currently being observed.

"The winds lead to extra ocean heat uptake, which stalled warming of the atmosphere," said Professor England. "Accounting for this wind intensification in model projections produces a hiatus in global warming that is in striking agreement with observations."

While the stronger winds offer respite from an overall warming trend, Professor England warns that in the grand scheme of things, the pause will be short lived and to little effect.

"This pumping of heat into the ocean is not very deep, however, and once the winds abate, heat is returned rapidly to the atmosphere," he said. "When the trade wind strength returns to normal – as it inevitably will – our research suggests heat will quickly accumulate in the atmosphere. So global temperatures look set to rise rapidly out of the hiatus, returning to the levels projected within as little as a decade."

Source: University of New South Wales

49 comments
WagTheDog
Here we go again! Another excuse for the global warming canard's failure to perform, when the real culprit is the normal climatological ebb and flow of planet earth since it's birth. I hope Gizmag isn't going all "Pop Mech" on us (i.e., becoming an establishment mouthpiece). Politics have no place in Gizmag ... so knock it off!
BeWalt
Global warming, who cares.
The truly amazing thing is that we honestly think it a reasonable thing to burn through a resource that needed hundreds of millions of years to accumulate, in just a few human lifetimes. And when confronted, a majority of us is happy to say "don't worry, let our kids figure out how to deal with their energy problem".
Our kids of the future would probably reply "well if is so simple, why don't you figure it out yourselves instead of burning this stuff in the tanks of your vehicles"...stuff that can also be used to make products, chemicals, medicine. We burn it to move our sorry asses around.
If we can't figure out how to power our indulgences, we shouldn't indulge. Simple as that. We got no right to these fossils, not to that much of them.
L1ma
There is nothing to say to fear porn but the truth, Global Warming as alarmists know it has been disproven as man made through the principles of scientific experimentation, it is therefore a false predicate to declare warming at this point to be man made. However a vast and self perpetuating RELIGION requiring funding at least equal to that of the pro carbon lobby has hijacked the political process and all media. Slandering any nay sayers as Denyiers (Climate Change Deny(Liars)) Humans as of yet are not altering the Earth climate to the point where they are the determing factor in global warming.
In 400 years however this will not be the case, at this point man made global warming will be the deciding force behind climate and humans will have to leave the Earth. 400 years ago: In 1698 the first steam engine was invented No human being had travelled faster than 20mph The first ballon flight was in 1783 The Agricultural revoluton 1750 The World population was 600 million William Harrison created the only clocks which could accurately measure time using the gridiron pendulum a method of compensating for metalic expansion using alternating metal strips. In 1909 the Wright Brothers first flight. 1969 First moon landing. Where will we be in another 400 years ? Succumb to Eco Terrorism and you will not have decendants to find out -a Population crash : 1 2 Billion to 600 million
Mel Tisdale
@L1ma
By all means listen to an astrophysicist to get detailed knowledge of climate change, especially one whose population predictions do not match any that I have ever come across and who seems completely incapable of including the fact that it takes energy to make solar panels and build power stations into his calculations.
As for this article, I imagine that their work has taken a significant period of time to gather the data which has led to fact they are a bit late to the party. Cowtan and Way have now shown that the reason that it was thought that there has been a hiatus is simply due to the fact that the Arctic is not well covered with weather stations and seeing as the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, entirely in line with model predictions, the lack of data for that region has skewed the picture.
Not that this paper is invalid in any way and indeed we know from measuring ocean temperatures that a significant amount of heat is going into them, especially at depth. We can only wait for the next significant El Niño and a lot of this buried heat will be released. Of course, to suggest that we get the body-bags ready would be alarmist, so I will let the need for them become apparent when it happens.
For anyone wishing to study the matter in any depth, there are two websites that are worth visiting, WUWT and skepticalscience.com. One is what L1ma would call an alarmist site and the other is a denier site. I leave you to work out which is which and which one treats the matter scientifically and which one doesn't.
Synchro
@L1ma you firstly offer a baseless opinion in the face of vast evidence to the contrary, then list a series of completely irrelevant random facts. Do come back when you have a coherent argument.
BigGoofyGuy
It would be nice if those who think global warming is man made don't treat those who disagree with contempt.
It is not easy to predict weather a week from today (since there are so many variables that constantly change), yet some predict what the weather will be like years from now.
I am for using less petrolium products but only because I think alternative energy sources are cool and not just green.
piperTom
"We, the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists, have modified our Theory to allow for inconvenient facts and we will continue change our Theory no matter what facts may come. Be afraid, BE AFRAID!"
Also, phlogiston!
andyt
We know the climate has changed before, with disastrous results (including cannibalism in Europe, in historic -- not prehistoric -- times.) We know that it seems to be changing now, and we have already seen some disasters.
We don't know yet exactly which way it will go, but we know that it will go, and if we were rational, we would prepare for either way. Katrina proved that while the United States is very good as destroying smaller countries, it is not able to protect its own citizens from nature. If we were rational we would prepare for whatever may come -- hot or cold and storms etc -- and quit this stupid rationalizations about whether there will be change or not.
And yes -- common sense says that since fossil fuels are without question a finite resource, we should try to conserve, rather than waste them.
Matt Fletcher
The effects people have on the weather are slim, 0.003% at best and more likely 0.0005%. The current climate models drastically under estimate the effects the sun, solar winds, and cosmic energy have on the earth. One powerful Coronal Mass Ejection, solar wind or cosmic ray and all life could be obliterated in a day. Just the same if you have a solar loll we can find ourselves with blistering cold temperatures across the globe.
Overall there happens to be a 22 year solar cycle and a 200,000 year cosmic cycle. We happen to currently be at a solar high in the 22 year cycle but that high is cycling low (this year should be colder than most expected). On the cosmic side of things we are just approaching a high and will be there for several thousand years with temps on average about 2-3 degrees warmer than the average over the past 30,000 years. This cosmic 200,000 year cycle is more likely the cause of the earth warming. Believe it or not, it's just what I have found looking into what affects the weather. Also check out suspicious0bservers on YouTube to explain for a global weather update and to learn how to monitor the suns activity.
I find it interesting that people think fossil fuels are finite. Fossil fuels are dug up used and then recycled. It may not be immediate but the gas we burn goes into the air then back down through rain or absorbed by vegetation and helps plants grow, which are then used for food, building materials, or fuel. Regardless the atoms are not gone, and can be picked up combined and separated again and again.
Also for those of you worried about our kids, they will be fine (so long as they don't die from war, or virus before they have a chance to grow up). They have fission, fusion, solar, geothermal, hydro-electric and many other chemical thermal energies to look forward to consuming/using.
Eric Eisinger
If the world is warming up what's the big deal?
The major claim is that cities might flood due to increased sea levels, once again what's the big deal? Abandon the city and move! We as humans have been nomadic for millions of years and really have only stopped the nomadic lifestyle in the last 100 years!
It is a common fact that the world has fluctuated in temperature for millions of years, from ice ages to global tropics.
The benefits of a global increase in temperature would mean a great increase of agricultural land in the northern US, Canada and Russia. And that would support a larger human population.
So all and all global warming would be a good thing for humans.