Ocean ridges contribute to warming trend

Feb. 4, 2011 at 8:59 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists looked back 3 million years to the last warming period to make better predictions on how surface water impacts the climate, the USGS said.

The U.S. Geological Survey in an article published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology looked back to the mid-Pliocene period to study the influence that underwater mountain ridges have on climate change.

Marci Robinson, a researcher with the USGS, said in a statement that ocean water temperatures during the Pliocene era were warmer than during the modern age. She said an ocean ridge near Greenland was lower than it is now, meaning heat transfer was greater.

Underwater ridges trap cold water at the bottom of the ocean. Without them, the USGS said, water moves more freely causing surface temperatures to rise.

"Understanding this process allows for more accurate predictions of factors such as ocean temperature and ice volume changes," said Robinson.

Environmental scientists note the sea ice in the arctic regions is melting more quickly with warming trends. Less ice means the sun's energy isn't reflected back into the atmosphere, meaning more heat is absorbed causing temperatures to increase.

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