A new study out of the United Kingdom predicts the Earth is about to go through a major climatic shift that could mean decades of cooler temperatures and fewer hurricanes hitting the United States.
Scientists at the University of Southampton predict that a cooling of the Atlantic Ocean could cool global temperatures a half a degree Celsius and may offer a “brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures,” according to their study.
This cooling phase in the Atlantic will influence “temperature, rainfall, drought and even the frequency of hurricanes in many regions of the world,” says Dr. Gerard McCarthy. The study’s authors based their results on ocean sensor arrays and 100 years of sea-level data.
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“The observations of [AMO] from [sensor arrays], over the past ten years, show that it is declining,” Dr. David Smeed, a co-author, said in a statement. “As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative phase, which will result in cooler surface waters. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.”
Researchers argue that a negative AMO will bring “drier summers in Britain and Ireland, accelerated sea-level rise along the northeast coast of the United States, and drought in the developing countries of the Sahel region,” according to the study’s press release. Interestingly enough, the study also predicts fewer hurricanes hitting the U.S.– a result of a cooler Atlantic.
Atlantic cooling can impact the climate for decades, according to researchers, on timescales from 20 to 30 years. This means cooler global temperatures and changing weather patterns could unfold over the next two to three decades, possibly extending the so-called “pause” in global warming.
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Some scientists, however, have been arguing the world is indeed headed for a cooling phase based on solar cycles. Scientists from Germany to India have argued that weakening solar activity could bring about another “Little Ice Age.”