Sorry, Climate Change Deniers: Pacific Cooldown Won’t Last

Snow in London last winter prompted mayor Boris Johnson to proclaim there mustn’t be such a thing as global warming. A recent spate of cooler temperatures in the Pacific Ocean starting around 1998 could alike be seen as a climate change denier’s dream come true. A new study suggests that this slowdown in global average surface temperatures is a temporary and brief phenomenon.

Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California used computer modeling to study the “global warming hiatus,” which has occurred at the same time as the United States has experienced record-breaking heat, Arctic sea ice has continued to shrink and Greenland has become greener as its ice shelf has melted.

The Pacific decadal oscillation is the name for a La Niña-like cooling trend in the eastern equatorial Pacific. La Niña and El Niño are known to alternately warm and cool the sea surface of the tropical Pacific. Their effects are felt around the world in the form of monsoons and temperature changes.

While as little as 8 percent of the earth’s surface is affected by this cooling trend, it is still enough to “offset the general rise in temperature induced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases,” says scientist Shang-Ping Xie. While the La Niña conditions suppressed global average temperatures during the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, summer temperatures in the region still rose.

If the Scripps researchers are accurate, then “it seems very likely that the energy being trapped by greenhouse gases is indeed going into the deep ocean,” says Andrew Dessler, a climatologist at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Climate change research has been focusing more on how the oceans play a part in regulating global temperatures, says the Guardian:

Research indicates that oceans have absorbed much of the heat and about a third of the additional carbon dioxide pumped into the air from pre-industrial times. This has an effect – the thermal expansion of the oceans is likely to be the biggest factor behind sea level rise, and the absorption of carbon dioxide is making the oceans more acidic.

The cooling phase could mean that global temperatures may not be riding at the highest estimate of 6 degrees Celsius. But a lower predicted rise of 2 degrees Celsius from greenhouse gas emissions can still, as we have seen, cause extreme weather events.

The last cooling phase before the most recent one occurred in the 1940s to the 1970s. Xie is not sure how long the cooling trend will last and comments that it is simply a matter of time before “the Pacific Ocean decides to swing into a warmer state.” Climate change deniers can say what they want but (for the nth) time, global warming is all too real.

Photo from Thinkstock

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70 comments

Mark Donner
Mark Donners2 years ago

It's getting hotter no matter how much "deniers" deny their own home's impending death and deny that they are responsible for the deaths of their children and grandchildren, the only saving grace is a temporary respite where ocean is currently absorbing the heat (while becoming destructively acidic) until once again atmospheric global warming will start to accelerate to a point never seen before on earth. 20 BILLION TONS OF UNABSORBED HUMAN CO2 EMISSION PER YEAR WHICH LINGERS IN THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE UP TO A CENTURY DOES HAVE AN EFFECT.. that's called PHYSICS and REAL LIFE for humanity's idiots who keep covering their ears and eyes Alll ice sheets, glaciers, tundras, worldwide are melting. The North Pole is losing all of its ice. The ice that raises sea levels, Greenland ice sheets and West Antarctica land based ice sheets are melting at a record pace. There are more violent storms, droughts, floods and wildfires in the temperate zones. Zones of the earth which are typically hot or cold year round have measurably warmed. But the human race is too STUPID and UNETHICAL to do anything about it before it's too late.

Mary B.
Mary B.2 years ago

Some places get cooler and others get hotter. The Earth is doing it's best to ballance things out. Why are people still fighting about this? It's absurd. Stop the waste, conserve the resources, don't cut the big trees, stop polution, clean up the water, the soil and the air. Just do your share!

Georgeta Trandafir

thank you

Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

It's a long way to go to help cope with the problem

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Well said. Now the IPCC will be forced to acknowledge oceanic influences in its climate models. Stories about how bad a particular was cannot compare to scientific data.

JL A.
JL A.2 years ago

One more solid scientific explanation of why anecdotal evidence is insufficient to disprove a body of evidence consistent and solid enough for consensus by unbiased experts.

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo2 years ago

Thank you for the important news. (p, t)

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo2 years ago

Good grief! How on earth could anyone doubt climate change? I honestly can't comprehend that sort of stupidity.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

Thanks.

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck2 years ago

Thanks for the reading.