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Summer 2014 Saw Warmest Ocean Temperatures Ever Recorded

Nov 14, 2014 03:23 PM EST
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Summer 2014 saw the warmest ocean temperatures ever recorded, according to a new report, proving that global warming is not slowing down.

(Photo : Pixabay)

Summer 2014 saw the warmest ocean temperatures ever recorded, according to a new report, proving that global warming is not slowing down.

But many people, including scientists, did think at one point that global warming had indeed taken a break. Greenhouse gas levels may have increased drastically in recent years, hitting a record high in 2013, but overall global tempratures have actually barely risen in the last 16 years, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Geoscience back in August.

Some took this as proof that climate change wasn't a reality, and that man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels wasn't to blame for global warming. However, further research indicates that this "pause," referred to as the Global Warming Hiatus, was actually rooted in a natural cooling fluctuation, with the missing heat trapped deep in the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, as of April 2014, this hiatus period is over, and ocean warming has picked up speed again, according to analyses of ocean temperature datasets.

"Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year," climate scientist Axel Timmermann of the University of Hawaii, lead researcher behind the new study, said in a press release.

a) NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA's ERSST dataset.
(Photo : Axel Timmermann) a) NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA's ERSST dataset.

According to the study, record-breaking ocean temperatures are mostly due to the North Pacific, which "has warmed far beyond any recorded value and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands," explained Timmermann.

This upswing began back in January, according to the study, when sea surface temperatures first began to rise. Then in April and May winds pushed a huge amount of warm water, usually stored in the western Pacific, along the equator to the eastern Pacific. These warm waters subsequently spread along the North Pacific coast and released into the atmosphere heat that had been stored in the deep ocean for the last decade. This was the missing heat that had scientists believing that global warming was slowing down.

"Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds," said Timmermann, "which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska."

The findings show that climate change is indeed a reality, and a phenomenon that the world needs to face head on. Just this week the United States and China teamed up, making an international agreement to combat climate change and reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

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