Changes in net flow of ocean heat correlate with past climate anomalies

Ocean with sun reflectionPhysicists at the University of Rochester have combed through data from satellites and ocean buoys and found evidence that in the last 50 years, the net flow of heat into and out of the oceans has changed direction three times.

These shifts in the balance of heat absorbed from the sun and radiated from the oceans correlate well with past anomalies that have been associated with abrupt shifts in the earth’s climate, say the researchers. These anomalies include changes in normal storm intensities, unusual land temperatures, and a large drop in salmon populations along the western United States.

The physicists also say these changes in ocean heat-flow direction should be taken into account when predicting global climate because the oceans represent 90 percent of the total heat in the earth’s climate system.

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