Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ocean cooling contributed to mid-20th century global warming hiatus

Date:
September 23, 2010
Source:
Colorado State University
Summary:
The hiatus of global warming in the Northern Hemisphere during the mid-20th century may have been due to an abrupt cooling event centered over the North Atlantic around 1970, rather than the cooling effects of tropospheric pollution.

Iceberg in the icefjord near the city of Ilulissat in Greenland. While the temperature drop was evident in data from all Northern Hemisphere oceans, it was most pronounced in the northern North Atlantic, a region of the world ocean thought to be climatically dynamic.
Credit: iStockphoto/Anders Peter Amsnæs

The hiatus of global warming in the Northern Hemisphere during the mid-20th century may have been due to an abrupt cooling event centered over the North Atlantic around 1970, rather than the cooling effects of tropospheric pollution, according to a new paper appearing Sept. 22 in Nature.

David W. J. Thompson, an atmospheric science professor at Colorado State University, is the lead author on the paper. Other authors are John M. Wallace at the University of Washington, and John J. Kennedy at the Met Office and Phil D. Jones of the University of East Anglia, both in the United Kingdom.

The international team of scientists discovered an unexpectedly abrupt cooling event that occurred between roughly 1968 and 1972 in Northern Hemisphere ocean temperatures. The research indicates that the cooling played a key role in the different rates of warming seen in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres in the middle 20th century.

"We knew that the Northern Hemisphere oceans cooled during the mid-20th century, but the sudden nature of that cooling surprised us," Thompson said.

While the temperature drop was evident in data from all Northern Hemisphere oceans, it was most pronounced in the northern North Atlantic, a region of the world ocean thought to be climatically dynamic.

"Accounting for the effects of some forms of natural variability -- such as El Nino and volcanic eruptions -- helped us to identify the suddenness of the event," Jones said.

The different rates of warming in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres in the middle 20th century are frequently attributed to the larger buildup of tropospheric aerosol pollution in the rapidly industrializing Northern Hemisphere. Aerosol pollution contributes to cooling of the Earth's surface and thus can attenuate the warming due to increasing greenhouse gases.

But the new paper offers an alternative interpretation of the difference in mid-century temperature trends.

"The suddenness of the drop in Northern Hemisphere ocean temperatures relative to the Southern Hemisphere is difficult to reconcile with the relatively slow buildup of tropospheric aerosols," Thompson said.

"We don't know why the Northern Hemisphere ocean areas cooled so rapidly around 1970. But the cooling appears to be largest in a climatically important region of the ocean," Wallace said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Colorado State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David W. J. Thompson, John M. Wallace, John J. Kennedy and Phil D. Jones. An abrupt drop in Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperature around 1970. Nature, September 22, 2010 DOI: 10.1038/nature09394

Cite This Page:

Colorado State University. "Ocean cooling contributed to mid-20th century global warming hiatus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100922132002.htm>.
Colorado State University. (2010, September 23). Ocean cooling contributed to mid-20th century global warming hiatus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100922132002.htm
Colorado State University. "Ocean cooling contributed to mid-20th century global warming hiatus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100922132002.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins