The industrial revolution stopped the cooling of the oceans

The industrial revolution stopped the cooling of the oceans

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This is pointed out by an international study, with Spanish participation, which offers a new perspective on variations in oceanic surface temperature before the onset of climate change influenced by human activity.

An increase in the frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions could cause a gradual cooling of the sea surface temperature for 1,800 years, a trend that stopped with the arrival of the industrial revolution. This is one of the main conclusions reached by an international study with the participation of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)

The results of the work, which has been published in the journal Nature Geoscience, provide a new perspective to the study of temperature variations on the ocean surface on a regional and global scale over the centuries before the onset of anthropogenic climate change, that is, influenced by human activity.

The lowest temperatures in the last 1,800 years of ocean cooling occurred from the 16th to the 18th centuries, in the Little Ice Age

“The fact that we consistently detect a cooling trend both in observations carried out on land and at sea suggests that this trend in pre-industrial times was robust, especially in the last millennium. This trend has been reversed by a statistically significant warming in the last two centuries ”, explains CSIC researcher Belén Martrat, from the Institute for Environmental Diagnosis and Water Studies.

According to this study, the lowest temperatures throughout the 1,800 years of oceanic cooling occurred mainly towards the last part of the period known as the Little Ice Age on land, that is, approximately from the 16th century to the XVIII, with historically documented consequences, for example, in European societies.

“We knew that, in the short term, volcanic eruptions have a cooling effect on the atmosphere. Now our results show that when volcanic activity occurs more frequently, this cooling effect is prolonged in the ocean, ”says Helen McGregor of the University of Wollongong in Australia.

The researchers have arrived at these results by combining for the first time 57 previous studies on the temporal evolution of the oceanic surface temperature estimated from marine fossil materials, which have been extracted from sediments accumulated uniformly on the ocean floor. The results were then compared with data obtained using terrestrial indicators, such as tree rings or ice cores. To observe long-term trends, the information was grouped into 200-year tranches.

Importance of climate models

“Climate models have been fundamental in discovering the causes of this cooling. We examined several of the factors that could affect ocean surface temperature, such as solar activity, changes in Earth's orbital parameters, land uses, volcanic activity, and greenhouse gases. Of all of them, volcanic activity was revealed as a determining factor to reproduce the trend that coincided with the observations ”, adds Martrat.

The cooling signal detected in the marine records shows how the ocean acts as a climate regulator. Compared to the atmosphere, the ocean can absorb large amounts of heat. As a consequence, the heating of the surface climate is substantially delayed and then acts as an emitter of that heat.

Knowing the factors that changed ocean temperatures in the past helps to know what may happen in the future

“We are still learning about the role of the oceans as mediators in climatic variations. Detecting the factors that changed ocean temperatures in the past opens a window for us to understand the inferred climate changes for the next few centuries, ”says Mike Evans, from the University of Maryland (United States).

Researchers McGregor and Evans are part with Martrat of the team that leads the Ocean2k working group of PAGES (Past Global Changes), which currently has more than 75 members connected to a network of about 600 scientists. Since the group was formed in 2011, they decided to use virtual communication to carry out their work, as a measure to reduce their carbon footprint.

"This has been an organizational challenge, but also a very positive experience in every way," concludes Martrat. The CSIC will host in Barcelona, ​​from October 6 to 8 at CosmoCaixa, the group's first face-to-face meeting, in which it will deepen in the conclusions of their studies and the follow-up of the open lines of research will be planned.

SINC Agency

Video: Industrial Revolution for Kids - A simple yet comprehensive overview (July 2022).


  1. Gutaxe

    I've never seen such a thing before

  2. Shakalkis

    This sentence, is incomparable)))

  3. Odom

    There is something in this. Now everything is working out, thank you very much for your help in this matter.

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