Unusually strong trade winds whooshing over the Pacific may explain the ocean’s cool temperatures and a recent hiatus in the rise of global temperatures. Though scientists aren’t certain what caused the winds’ strength to increase, they are confident that the winds will return to normal and global warming will continue apace.
Using a combination of climate simulations and weather data, researchers found that in the last two decades, forceful Pacific trade winds have pushed warm water westward. In the western Pacific, ocean currents dunk the heat deep in the ocean. The result is cooler water at the surface and a beguiling pause in warming, the authors report February 9 in Nature Climate Change.
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