A new study of ocean temperature measurements shows that in recent years, extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the subsurface waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, thus accounting for the slowdown in the global surface temperature increase observed during the past decade, researchers say. A specific layer of the Indian and Pacific oceans between 300 and 1,000 feet below the surface has been accumulating more heat than previously recognized, according to climate researchers from UCLA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They also found the movement of warm water has affected surface temperatures. The results were published July 9 in the journal Science. During the 20th century, as greenhouse gas concentrations increased and trapped more heat on Earth, global surface temperatures also increased. However, starting in the early 2000s though greenhouse gases continued to trap extra heat, the global average surface temperature stopped climbing for about a decade and even cooled a bit. In the study, researchers analyzed direct ocean temperature measurements, including observations from a global network of about 3,500 ocean temperature probes known as the Argo array. These measurements show temperatures below the surface have been increasing.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis