Southern Ocean might slow global warming

TUCSON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say the Southern Hemisphere's westerly winds' shift poleward will affect carbon dioxide storage and heat the ocean.

Although atmospheric warming will slow, sea level will rise faster, University of Arizona researchers said. That will result from the Southern Ocean possibly slowing the rate of global warming by absorbing significantly more heat and carbon dioxide than previously thought.


The new finding surprised the scientists, said lead researcher Joellen Russell. "We think it will slow global warming. It won't reverse or stop it but it will slow the rate of increase."

The model Russell and her colleagues developed provides a realistic simulation of the Southern Hemisphere westerlies and Southern Ocean circulation -- previous climate models, she said, did not have the winds properly located.

"Because these winds have moved poleward, the Southern Ocean around Antarctica is likely to take up 20 percent more carbon dioxide than in a model where the winds are poorly located," said Russell, an assistant professor of geosciences.

The research is detailed in the Dec. 15 issue of the Journal of Climate.

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