Earth's 'Missing Heat' Found in Atlantic

Researchers say it's behind global warming pause, which is only temporary

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 24, 2014 12:48 PM CDT

(Newser) – One odd thing not in dispute about global warming is that it's actually been paused for about 15 years now. Though a number of theories have been batted around, a new study thinks it's found the true culprit—the Atlantic Ocean has been absorbing heat that would normally be warming up surface temperatures, reports Reuters. "We found the missing heat," a researcher from the Ocean University of China says in Science. While this oceanic heat-trapping may not sound like a bad thing, the researchers present a downside: It's just a temporary cooling cycle, and when it ends in another decade or so, temperatures are expected to rise again quickly, reports the BBC.

"We probably may have another 10 years, maybe shorter as global warming itself is melting more ice and ice could flood the North Atlantic, but historically we are in the middle of the cycle," he says. Researchers found a similar hiatus occurred between 1945 and 1975, just ahead of another spurt of rapid warming. A previous study actually blamed the Pacific Ocean, and while LiveScience says the new research won't settle the debate, "it does support the idea that Earth's global warming continues in the ocean, even when air temperatures stay flat." (Click for the details on that Pacific Ocean theory.)

A deep sea coral reef is seen more than 1,000 feet down in the Atlantic Ocean about 50 miles off the southeastern coast of the United States.
A deep sea coral reef is seen more than 1,000 feet down in the Atlantic Ocean about 50 miles off the southeastern coast of the United States.   (AP Photo/arthowardphotography.com)
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