World’s oceans are known for their ability to absorb heat and control the increase in global temperatures. An international team of climatologists, however, published a study in the latest issue of Nature Climate Change, indicating that if this heat is to be released back to the atmosphere, the consequences could be severe and irreversible.
For a few years now, it has been clear among scientists that the effect and rates of warming have slowed down since the year 2000. Experts from France and Spain tried to establish the reasons behind this and found that oceans absorbed more heat from the atmosphere around 2000, however they warned that if this is the only reason, then the slow down is only a temporary phenomenon.
According to Virginie Guemas, a scientist at the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences in Barcelona, and lead author of the study, returning of heat to the atmosphere is very likely to occur in the next decade. Guemas and team used a series of model simulations to demonstrate that La Nina events in 2000 cooled the Pacific ocean, while similar weather events acted upon the Atlantic.
Commenting on the study, Caroline Katsman of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, points out that the study confirms findings of earlier research conducted by her institute. She adds that the heat could be released back to the atmosphere as part of the El Nino and La Nina Pacific oscillations.
Another study recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by Kevin Trenberth, of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, points out that the effects of global warming are now noticed not only in raising air temperatures, but also deep in the oceans.
In 2010, governments and international organizations agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their attempt to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. This is considered to be the threshold for severe changes.
Although UN’s World Meteorological Organization reported that last year has been the second warmest since the 1850s, after 1998, some governments are still skeptical and do not acknowledge man-made climate change as problem.
The U.N panel of climate scientists, however, stated that human activities are the main cause for variation in climate patterns.