Very few processes in nature proceed uniformly in one direction when examined at increasingly small time intervals. One would not expect rising temperatures every day from February through July at a place in the northern hemisphere. But on average, if measured over a number of years, one certainly would. On a global scale, there will be fluctuations lasting as much as a decade, but the long-term trend remains.
Earth’s deep oceans may absorb enough heat at times to flatten the rate of global warming for periods of as long as a decade–even in the midst of longer-term warming. This according to a new analysis led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet as the main location of the “missing heat” during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend.
The findings also suggest that several more intervals like this can be expected over the next century, even as the trend toward overall warming continues.