Despite the recent floods, droughts and extreme winter weather, the effects of climate change have pretty much been on hiatus for the past few years. According to Nafeez Ahmed at the Ecologist, all that is about to change. He says about two atomic bombs’ worth of heat per second, now stored in the oceans, is about to hit the Earth with “a supercharged surge of rapid global warming” that will destabilize the climate system in “deeply unpredictable ways.”
Ahmed writes that the rate of atmospheric warming in recent years has been slowed down by various natural weather cycles and led to skeptics who say that global warming has ‘paused.’ Actually, quite the opposite is true, and the effects of global warming have sped up. Excess heat in the atmosphere has been absorbed and trapped by the oceans, a phenomenon scientists have only recently been able to measure due to advances in technology.
Measurements show climate change is pumping heat into the oceans at a rate of 125 terawatts – roughly the equivalent energy of two atomic bombs the size of those dropped on Hiroshima – per second. “By burning fossil fuels, humans are effectively detonating 378 million atomic bombs in the oceans each year,” Ahmed writes.
According to U.S. scientists, that heat is being “buried” in the oceans by El Nino-like phenomena known as Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), creating a “false pause” in climate change. The chickens will eventually come home to roost, because the heat is predicted to release rapidly in coming years as the PDO and AMO are expected to eventually switch from their current negative phase to a positive one and signs are currently there that it could be already happening.
What exactly will happen when the heat is released is still up in the air, but a new paper published in the journal Nature, says there is an 85 percent chance the “pause” phase will end within the next five years, and will be followed by a “burst of warming” likely made up of about 10 years of warm ocean oscillations.
The rate of warming would be about twice the background rate for at least five years and potentially longer, with the majority of warming expected to happen in the Arctic, where results could be devastating.