Between 2000 and 2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, despite increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. This period, referred to as the Global Warming Hiatus, raised a lot of public and scientific curiosity. But unfortunately as of April 2014 ocean warming has picked up speed again. The 2014 global ocean warming is mainly a consequence of the North Pacific, which scientists involved in the study say has “warmed far beyond any recorded value.”
In other words sea-surface temperatures are warmer than at any point in time our data began, in 1854, as Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor, studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa explained. “This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year,” says Timmermann.
Scientists are of the opinion that the Global Warming Hiatus is rooted in a natural cooling fluctuation of the Earth, where the missing heat has been trapped deep in the Atlantic Ocean. In August, Digital Journal reported on research done by climate scientists at the University of Washington, how the absent heat had been plunging deep into the South and North Atlantic Ocean.
Timmermann noted the sea surface temperatures started to rise unusually quickly in the extratropical North Pacific in January 2014. A few months later, in April and May, westerly winds pushed a huge amount of very warm water usually stored in the western Pacific along the equator to the eastern Pacific. This warm water has spread along the North American Pacific coast, releasing into the atmosphere enormous amounts of heat. This heat had reportedly been locked up in the Western tropical Pacific for nearly a decade.
“Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska,” said Timmermann.
The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska.