It’s the oceans. They have absorbed the additional planetary heat generated since 2000. Scientists and others have observed how the annual mean temperature of the world has not changed since the beginning of the new century. The believers in a continuation of climate change have narrowed to two principal causes for keeping the same annual mean temperature, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
According to new data, “The latter part of the 20th century saw rapid global warming as more heat stayed near the surface. In the 21st century, surface warming slowed as more heat moved into deeper oceans. In situ and reanalyzed data are used to trace the pathways of ocean heat uptake.” The researchers of this study identified the Atlantic Ocean as having absorbed the world’s heat. This conclusion was released in a Science magazine study reported in the August 22, 2014 issue.
While another research report reaches the same conclusion it cites a different ocean, the Pacific, as acting as the primary cause for the rising ocean temperatures. It does identify what is happening in the Pacific Ocean as the main reason for the effect on the Atlantic.
Kevin Trenberth argues that climate change has not stopped but rather is simply “manifested in different ways.” An article that appeared in June of 2013, in climatescience.com states that the “El Nino caused a large loss of heat from the deep ocean to the sea surface that resulted in a cooling of the oceans. Since then the deep ocean has been absorbing heat back from the upper ocean and so cooling the atmosphere.” He continues, “the centre of action is the Pacific Ocean but the main places where heat goes deep into the ocean are the Atlantic and Southern Oceans rather than the Pacific.”
Those of us who hoped this stability in the annual mean world temperature meant there was some slowing of the pace of climate change are disappointed. These findings are conclusive even though there is some “chicken and egg” argument around which ocean has the greatest responsibility for the Atlantic Ocean acting as a heat sink and taking on more of the world’s heat.
There is no break in the inevitable escalation of the world’s heat even as its manifestation is not what was expected. We need to redouble our efforts to weather the changes (no pun intended) that are coming as a result of climate change. At this point many of us have given up on trying to stop climate change and are now focused on slowing its progress and figuring out what humanity is going to do in each local environment to survive its effects.
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