Close Window
Strongest Trade Winds on Record Linked to Warming Pause August 8, 2014
Tropical image at sunset
Equatorial trade winds in the Pacific are the strongest since record keeping began in the 1860s.
Trade winds blowing across the equatorial Pacific are at their strongest since records began in the 1860s, and scientists say a warmer Atlantic is the cause.

Those winds have also become about 50 percent more powerful since the late 1990s.

Earlier research pointed to the turbocharged Pacific winds as the source of the seeming pause in global warming.

The stronger trades are thought to be churning the heat from atmospheric warming into the deep Pacific waters, masking the actual magnitude of climate change.

Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers from the University of New South Wales say that a thermal lift from a warmer Atlantic is sending parcels of air high in the atmosphere, where they are carried by upper-air winds to the eastern Pacific.

There, the parcels give the trade winds an extra boost as they cool while descending.

Lead author Shayne McGregor says this process is not permanent.

He warns that once the winds ease, the stored heat could rise from the ocean, resulting in a surge of surface warmth.

Photo: File