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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
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ScienceShot: Pacific Ocean Keeping Earth Cool—For Now
10 February 2014 12:00 pm
Earth’s average temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001, despite rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases—a trend that has perplexed most climate scientists. A new study suggests that the missing heat has been temporarily stirred into the relatively shallow waters in the western Pacific by stronger-than-normal trade winds. Over the past 20 years or so, trade winds near the equator—which generally blow from east to west—have driven warm waters of the Pacific ahead of them, causing larger-than-normal volumes of cool, deep waters to rise to the surface along the western coasts of Central America and South America. (Cooler-than-average surface waters are depicted in shades of blue, image from late July and early August 2007.) Climate simulations suggest that that upwelling has generally cooled Earth’s climate, stifling about 0.1°C to 0.2°C in warming that would have occurred by 2012 if winds hadn’t been inordinately strong, the researchers reported online yesterday in Nature Climate Change. Both real-world observations and the team’s simulations reveal that the abnormally strong winds—driven by natural variation in a long-term climate cycle called the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation—have, for the time being, carried the “missing” heat to intermediate depths of the western Pacific Ocean. Eventually, possibly by the end of this decade, the inevitable slackening of the trade winds will bring the energy back to the ocean’s surface to be released to the atmosphere, fueling rapid warming, the scientists contend.