Pasadena, CA, USA — A new NASA study of ocean temperature measurements at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) shows in recent years extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Researchers say this shifting pattern of ocean heat accounts for the slowdown in the global surface temperature trend observed during the past decade.
Researchers Veronica Nieves, Josh Willis and Bill Patzert of NASA’s JPL found a specific layer of the Indian and Pacific oceans between 300 and 1,000 feet (100 and 300 meters) below the surface has been accumulating more heat than previously recognized.
They also found the movement of warm water has affected surface temperatures. The result was published Thursday, 9 July 2015, in the journal Science.
During the 20th century, as greenhouse gas concentrations increased and trapped more heat energy on Earth, global surface temperatures also increased. However, in the 21st century, this pattern seemed to change temporarily.
“Greenhouse gases continued to trap extra heat, but for about 10 years starting in the early 2000s, global average surface temperature stopped climbing, and even cooled a bit,” said Willis.
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.