Pacific Ocean is responsible for the slow pace of global warming, a new study said. According to the scientists, despite a long-term trend of global warming, the Earth’s average temperature hasn’t increased during the past 15 years. This is all because of the natural cooling of the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists say, the Earth’s average temperature has risen by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. But the temperature rise has not been moving up with the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Notably, Carbon dioxide — mainly from burning fossil fuels — is the major global warming gas.
Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have established the link between Pacific Ocean and Global Warming. “We started the study trying to resolve several contradictions,” says Shang-Ping Xie.
The scientists have tried to find out some of the questions linked to climatic change and global warming. Some of the questions include: Why the global average temperature has bucked its long-term upward trend. And they also set out to explain why — even during this hiatus — there has been record melting of ice in the Arctic Ocean, and why there have been many new summertime heat records.
Xie says he can explain a lot of that simply by looking at what’s been happening in the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean. Waters there have been relatively cool, and that means the ocean can take up more heat than usual. “It’s gaining extra heat during the past 15 years, and that heat is being stored” in the deep ocean, he says.
There’s no telling how long this cool phase will persist. But the previous Pacific cool phase, which started in the 1940s, lasted about 30 years. It can’t last forever — the ocean will eventually return to a warm phase, “and when that happens, we will be seeing unprecedented rates of climate warming,” he says.
Not only will we get the natural heat wave, but on top of that we’ll get all the warming from greenhouse gases that have been building up during this cold cycle.
Xie says he can also explain the continuing summer heat records and melting Arctic ice. It turns out that the plateau in global average temperatures is mostly the result of lower temperatures during the wintertime.
That drags down the average, “but if you go to the summer season, actually the global mean temperature has kept rising for the past 15 years,” he says. “That allows heat waves to set records, and it allows the Arctic Ocean to melt at a record pace.”
According to U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO), nine of the 10 warmest years since records began in the mid-19th century have been since 2000, with 1998 the exception. Even so, the pace of warming has slowed from the 1980s and 1990s even though greenhouse gas emissions have hit record highs.
Almost 200 governments have agreed to limit a rise in temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius above levels before the Industrial Revolution. Even though temperatures have so far gained by about 0.8 C and many scientists say that warming is already causing more extreme weather, ranging from heatwaves to downpours.