Trade winds temporarily slow global warming

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Image courtesy NASA's AQUA/MODIS satellite

A study found that an unprecedented spike in Pacific trade winds slowed down global warming significantly in the past 12 years, but the effect is temporary. Australia’s weather agency said a dramatic acceleration in equatorial trade winds blowing from the Americas to the West Pacific had boosted circulation of the ocean. Lead author Matthew England said, “In a way it’s locking away energy we’ve obtained from greenhouse gas into the subsurface ocean and that’s what causes the hiatus (in global warming).” The plateau in global warming at a time when “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have shot up to record levels” had puzzled scientists. He says the pause in surface warming doesn’t mean that global warming has stopped at all. He adds, “We see Arctic sea ice melting to record low levels, the land ice sheets across the world are melting rapidly, ocean temperatures continue to warm.”

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