The Summer of 2014 Heralded the Warmest Oceans Ever Recorded

First Posted: Nov 14, 2014 12:24 PM EST

It turns out that this past summer may have experienced the highest ocean temperatures ever recorded. Scientists have announced that the summer saw the highest global mean sea surface temperatures to date. In fact, temperatures even exceeded those of the record-breaking year in 1998.

From 2000 to 2013, the global ocean surface temperature rise experienced a type of hiatus, despite the increasing rise in greenhouse gas concentrations. This period, which is known as the Global Warming Hiatus, raised quite a bit of scientific interest. Now, it seems this hiatus is over.

"The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian islands," said Axel Timmermann, climate scientist, in a news release.

In January 2014, sea surface temperatures began to rise unusually quickly in the North Pacific. A few months later, westerly winds pushed a huge amount of very warm water usually stored in the western Pacific along the equator to the eastern Pacific. This warm water then spread along the North American Pacific coast and released heat into the atmosphere.

"Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in the sea surface temperatures," said Timmermann. "The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska."

It seems as if the warming temperatures may me an end to the hiatus. This, in turn, shows that this type of phenomenon wasn't a halt to climate change and global warming as a whole, but was merely a pause before the oceans released their heat and warming began once more.

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