In DepthOceanography

Deep Pacific cooled by ‘little ice age’ waters

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Science  22 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6370, pp. 1515-1516
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6370.1515

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The “little ice age,” a global cooling trend that ended centuries ago, is still cooling the deep Pacific Ocean, researchers reported at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The oceans are a massive heat reservoir, absorbing some 90% of the warming from human-caused climate change. But this modern heat doesn’t penetrate evenly or quickly into their vast depths. Using rare ocean temperature readings taken in the 1870s and comparing them to today, researchers found that the deep Pacific seems to be cooling in a pattern that reflects the little ice age, a global cooling trend of a few tenths of a degree that held sway until the 1800s. This cooling also has an upshot: Without it, oceans would be poised to absorb less heat from human-driven climate change than they are now.