Stronger Pacific Ocean winds may help explain the slowdown in the rate of global warming since the turn of the century, scientists said.
“The net effect of these anomalous winds is a cooling in the 2012 global average surface air temperature of 0.1–0.2 degree Celsius, which can account for much of the hiatus in surface warming observed since 2001,” the researchers wrote. They’re led by Matthew England, a professor of oceanography at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in September that the average temperature since 1998 has increased at less than half the rate since 1951. The world has warmed by an average 0.05 degree per decade since 1998, compared with the 1951-2012 average of 0.12 degree a decade, the UNIPCC said.
“This hiatus could persist for much of the present decade if the tradewind trends continue; however rapid warming is expected to resume once the anomalous wind trends abate,” the authors of yesterday’s study said. “Volcanoes and changes in solar radiation can also drive cooler decades against the backdrop of ongoing warming,” they said.