Average air temperatures' rise has paused, but not stopped, because of normal variation in ocean temperatures
The recent pause in global warming has resulted from cooling in the tropical Pacific Ocean, new simulations find. The colder ocean temperatures are a consequence of natural fluctuations in climate; global temperatures will start rising again when warmer conditions return to the Pacific, researchers propose August 28 in Nature.
Exactly when that will happen is anyone’s guess. “We can’t predict the next move of the equatorial Pacific,” says study coauthor Shang-Ping Xie of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.
Since 1998, average global surface temperatures have remained relatively steady despite growing carbon dioxide emissions. Skeptics point to the warming hiatus as evidence that humans aren’t contributing to climate change. Yet previous decades of warming continue to have clear regional effects: Arctic sea ice has rapidly dwindled while other parts of the