The 'disappeared' heat of climate change hides 300 meters under the Atlantic

The 'disappeared' heat of climate change hides 300 meters under the Atlantic

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By Manuel Ansede

Scientists have been searching for this missing heat for a decade, which should be somewhere, because CO2 emissions into the atmosphere have not stopped breaking records year after year. And if there is more CO2, a gas that retains the energy emitted by the Earth after receiving sunlight, the atmospheric temperature should skyrocket. But the fact is that it has been relatively stable since 1998.

The scientific community has tried to explain this phenomenon with more than a dozen different theories, such as changes in the Sun's activity, increased pollution from China, and even volcanic eruptions. Meanwhile, the deniers have wielded this supposed "pause" in the global warming of the planet to deny its relationship with human activity. As an example, a famous column published in the British newspaper The Telegraph by a skeptical geologist: "There is a problem with global warming ... that stopped in 1998."

A "conveyor belt" under the sea

Now, two scientists from the US and China believe they have solved the enigma of the missing heat. They have found it at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. "Global warming has not stopped and we can see that the entire column of the ocean is heating up non-stop," explains Ka-Kit Tung, a professor at the University of Washington.

According to their data, the heat that should be in the atmosphere pulverizing the temperature records has traveled en masse from the surface waters to the depths of the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans.

Behind this phenomenon would be found the so-called "oceanic conveyor belt", a current that carries salty water, and therefore heavier, from the tropics to the North Atlantic, where it sinks together with the heat it stores. This circulation would have accelerated in recent years until it began to slow down again in 2006.

"When the ocean cycle changes, there will be another period of rapid global warming, like the one we had in the last three decades of the 20th century," predicts Ka-Kit Tung. His opinion is in line with that of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body made up of some 2,000 scientists that monitors the planet's global warming. “The rate of increase in atmospheric temperature has been a little slower in the last 15 years, compared to the 1980s and 1990s, when the increase was really fast. But the warming has continued. What we have seen in recent years is that warming has been more concentrated in the oceans than in the atmosphere, "the American ecologist Chris Field, co-chair of one of the three IPCC working groups, told Materia in June.

Scientific battle

Until now, the scientific community suspected that the Pacific Ocean could be functioning as a storehouse for the missing heat. But Ka-Kit Tung and his colleague Xianyao Chen from the China Ocean University rule out that option. Both researchers have analyzed tens of millions of measurements of ocean temperature and salinity taken in oceans around the world by buoys and ships since 1970. In their study, published today in the journal Science, they state that during the "hiatus "As experts call the phenomenon to avoid the confusing word" pause ", the Atlantic has stored more energy than the rest of the oceans combined. This heat is found at depths from 300 meters.

Not all experts share Tung and Chen's conclusions. New Zealand climatologist Kevin Trenberth, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder (USA), published a study four days ago that points to the Pacific as the true thief of atmospheric heat. In his opinion, the work published today in the journal Science is "quite deficient" and with data "not as new as they say."

Trenberth's study, published in the specialized journal Nature Climate Change, argues that the natural cycles of the Pacific Ocean would explain more than half of the heat that has disappeared since 1998. According to their conclusions, the phenomenon known as the Decennial Pacific Oscillation, which changes every 20 or 30 years, it is causing an outcrop of cold water in this ocean, triggering a drop in temperatures. For Ka-Kit Tung, "Dr. Trenberth has long maintained his Pacific-centric point of view, but he has not offered any proof, beyond computer simulations that say that heat is stored mainly in the Pacific." According to Tung, in addition, these models are "deficient".

Beyond the fight between laboratories, the latest studies make it clear that climate change has not stopped at all, but rather has been hidden. Both Tung and Trenberth agree on the same phrase: "Global warming continues."


Video: Jane Fonda, Diane Lane and other advocates discuss the impact of climate change on our oceans (June 2022).


  1. Guedado

    Has casually come on a forum and has seen this theme. I can help you council.

  2. Nemuro

    We must be modest

  3. Re-Harakhty

    Bravo, wonderful phrase and timely

  4. Momus

    Happy New Year!

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