2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #33

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #33

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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #33

Posted on 18 August 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week.

Editor’s Pick

Research Highlight: Climate Model Predicts Faster Warming for the North Atlantic Ocean

As aerosol emissions decline, heat uptake in the North Atlantic could increase dramatically

Gulf Stream & AMOC 

The Gulf Stream, part of the larger Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation system. Photo: NASA

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have predicted faster rates of warming than previously predicted for the North Atlantic Ocean in a recent paper published in the Journal of Climate. This warming could disrupt major oceanic cycles and have worldwide impacts on climate systems.

The researchers modeled scenarios based on possible future greenhouse gas and aerosol emission rates. One likely scenario focuses on future decline in aerosols and continued increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Aerosols are minute particles suspended in the atmosphere. Some scatter sunlight, thereby actually acting as cooling agents.

The aerosol cooling effect is about 50 percent of the warming effect of anthropogenic carbon dioxide at present. Aerosols released from human activities are pollutants, however, and their health concerns have triggered worldwide efforts to curb emissions. An aerosol decline could spark an interesting catch-22: Because of their cooling effect, this decline would accelerate ocean warming that is already being caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions–most notably initiating major warming in the North Atlantic.

Historically, the Southern Ocean has been the predominant heat absorber, accounting for roughly 72 percent of uptake of anthropogenic greenhouse heat in the oceans, due in part to the area’s low levels of cooling aerosols. The opposite is true of the North Atlantic: under strong aerosol cooling, the North Atlantic has not taken up much heat, meaning that most of the warming in the Northern Hemisphere is happening in the atmosphere and not in the ocean.

“The ocean heat uptake moderates atmospheric warming by storing much of the greenhouse heat below the surface,” said Shang-Ping Xie, a climate researcher at Scripps and co-author of the study. “We now show that the ocean uptake is not only uneven, but its distribution also evolves with time.”

Research Highlight: Climate Model Predicts Faster Warming for the North Atlantic Ocean by Chase Martin, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Aug 14, 2018


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