2.1 Indian and Pacific heat shift temporarily hides Earth's warming

Monday, 11 January 2016: 4:00 PM
La Nouvelle A ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Veronica Nieves, University of California, Los Angeles, CA; and J. Willis and W. C. Patzert

For much of the past century, the overall, long-term trend in global surface temperature was positive (+0.0064 C/year since 1880 or +0.0077 C/year during 1993-2002), but for the better part of a decade, global surface temperatures leveled off and even cooled slightly at a rate of +0.0010 C/year from 2003 to 2012. Based on a new analysis of observational data we show that the oceans have continued to warm at a steady rate, but natural variability in the oceans temporarily rearranged heat carrying it away from the surface. Whereas some areas of the Pacific appeared to cool - particularly near the surface and in the eastern half, which correlates well with the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, warming showed up mostly beneath the ocean surface in the 100 to 300 m layer of the western Pacific and eastern Indian oceans. Looking to the future, heat trapped below the surface will begin moving up kicking off a warming cycle.

Reference: Nieves, V., Willis, J. K., and Patzert, W. C. (2015). Recent hiatus caused by decadal shift in Indo-Pacific heating. Science, aaa4521.

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