New study identifies human contribution to atmosphere circulation changes
Illustrating the Walker circulation. Changes under warming are exaggerated for emphasis. Illustration credit: Gabriel A. Vecchi, NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.
A new study published in this weeks issue of Nature is the first to show that human activity is altering the circulation of the tropical atmosphere and ocean through global warming.
Scientists widely agree that the climate has warmed over the past century and that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, have significantly contributed to this global warming. This study tapped historical records that date back to the mid-19th century as well as simple theory and state-of-the-art computer model simulations to detect and attribute these climate changes. The conclusion was that the principal loop of winds that drives climate and ocean behavior across the tropical Pacific is slowing down and causing the climate to drift towards a more El Niño-like state. This could have important implications for the frequency and intensity of future El Niño events and biological productivity in tropical oceans.
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