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Multiple oceans may help stall global warming

Along with the Pacific, waters of the Atlantic and Southern may stash missing heat

4:57pm, August 21, 2014

HEAT SINK  Hidden heat, trapped deep in the Atlantic (shown) and Southern oceans, may explain a recent pause in global warming. 

The Atlantic and Southern oceans may be covering up global warming by hoarding heat. The finding could explain a puzzling plateau in Earth’s surface temperatures that many scientists have blamed on the Pacific Ocean.

Since the turn of the century, global average surface temperatures have remained flat despite an unabated rise in greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists have developed several theories to account for the lost heat, including that it is getting trapped in the oceans. Using climate simulations, many studies have pointed to the Pacific Ocean, where unusually strong trade winds may have shoved warm water deep beneath the surface (SN: 3/22/14, p. 12; SN: 10/5/13, p. 14).

The new research, however, suggests that the Pacific plays only a minor role.

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