Paper published in Nature Communications examines hemispheric variability in global ocean warming

April 24, 2020

Prof. Nathan Bindoff and colleagues published research in Nature Communications which shows that 90% of the net global ocean heat gain during 2005–2015 was confined to the southern hemisphere with little corresponding heat gain in the northern hemisphere ocean.

The paper proposes that this ocean heating is driven by anthropogenic climate change and an asymmetric climate variation between the two hemispheres. This asymmetric variation is found in the pre-industrial control simulations from 11 climate models. While both layers (0–700 m and 700–2000 m) experience steady anthropogenic warming, the 0–700 m layer experiences large internal variability, which primarily drives the observed hemispheric asymmetry of global ocean heat gain in 0–2000 m layer. The authors infer that the rate of global ocean warming is consistent with the climate simulations for this period. However, the observed hemispheric asymmetry in heat gain can be explained by the Earth’s internal climate variability without invoking alternate hypotheses, such as asymmetric aerosol loading.

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