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A new study published in the journal Science finds that global warming slowed down in recent years because oceans have been absorbing much of the heat. The paper — “Pacific Ocean Heat Content During the Past 10,000 Years” — shows that the Pacific Ocean in particular is warming at a rate 15 times greater in the last 60 years than at any time in the last 10,000 years.

Image © Anna Calvert

“We’re experimenting by putting all this heat in the ocean without quite knowing how it’s going to come back out and affect climate,” said study coauthor Braddock Linsley, a geoscience researcher at Columbia University. “It’s not so much the magnitude of the change, but the rate of change.”

Linsley and two other researchers — Delia Oppo, a climate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Yair Rosenthal, a geologist at Rutgers — collected mud samples at the bottom of the ocean near Indonesia. These mud samples contain the fossilized shells of a one-cell organism called Hyalinea Balthica that allowed the researchers to reconstruct temperature fluctuations in the ocean over time.

It should be noted that climate scientist Michael E. Mann voiced his skepticism of the findings in a blog post published in The Huffington Post. The “Rosenthal study is interesting and it provides useful new paleoclimate data that give us an incrementally richer understanding of the details of climate changes in pre-historic times,” he wrote.

“However, there are a number of inconsistencies with other evidence, and debatable assumptions and interpretations, which will require sorting out by the scientific community. That is, of course, the ‘self-correcting’ machinery of science that Carl Sagan spoke so eloquently of.”

+ Paper Abstract

Via Grist