London - Changes in the flow of heat between the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean could help to explain the recent “pause” in global warming that has seen a fall in the rate at which global surface temperatures have risen over the past 15 years or so, a new study has suggested.
The current global warming hiatus, where the increase in global temperatures has levelled off, can be explained at least in part by natural changes to a cold Pacific Ocean current called La Nina, which may have helped to absorb excess heat from the atmosphere, scientists said.
This pause in warming is further evidence that the deep ocean may be playing a major role in helping to moderate temperature rises at the surface. A previous study, for instance, found that the heat being absorbed by the deep ocean is equivalent to the power generated by 150 billion electric kettles.
Although global average temperatures are now higher than they have been since modern records began, they have not increased as fast over the past 10 to 15 years as some climate models have predicted, leading climate change sceptics to claim that global warming has stopped.
Climate scientists have countered by saying that the last decade was still warmer than any previous decade, with 12 of the 14 hottest years on record occurring since 2000, and that periods of natural variability, with temperatures falling temporarily, are always to be expected.