The deep Pacific is a climate time capsule from the ‘little ice age,’ 19th century ship records show

Even if the global cooling trend that was commonly known as the “little ice age” actually ended centuries ago, at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union it was reported that it still lives in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Even more, this oceanographic capsule can actually help some of today’s human driven warming.

The oceans are absorbing around 90% of warming from human-caused climate change.

There is a thing called the thermohaline circulation which actually means that chilled surface water in the North Atlantic Ocean dives into the deep and after many centuries, they manage to wind their way to the Pacific Ocean, which appears to be Earth’s cold storage locker in some way.

In other words, this means that the depths of the Pacific Ocean are actually able to reflect surface temperature trends that are many centuries old.

Jake Gebbie from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that is based in Massachusetts, said: “From 1350 to the present day [those depths are] expected to be cooling. Cooling—despite the fact that the surface is warming.”

This brings us back in 1870s when one British scientist spent 5 years recording the temperatures of the ocean on his scientific tour around the world. He made 760 readings below 2,000 meters with thermometers that were lowered by a rope. When Jake and his team compared these findings to theirs, they realized they have found something amazing. In Jake’s words: “We see exactly what we see in the simulation – deep Pacific cooling and deep Atlantic warming.”

One man that was fascinated by these findings is a pale-oceanographer from the Rutgers University in New Brunswick. He said: “If you caught a fish today in the deep Pacific and asked it what it thought about global warming, it’d think that we are talking about the medieval climate.”

In case if the little ace age hadn’t cooled the ocean, most likely they would’ve been absorbing heat from the atmosphere today. Of course, this means that surface warming would be actually much words then it is already.

In this context, Rosenthal says: “It’s buying us time.”


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