The Earth’s atmosphere and oceans play important roles in moving heat from one part of the world to another, and new research is illuminating how those patterns are changing in the face of climate change.
“The greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide aren’t the only issues to consider as the planet grows warmer – they are just one part of the equation. The way that the atmosphere and oceans move heat around is changing, too, and this could have significant effects on temperatures around the world,” said Zhengyu Liu, co-lead author of the study and professor of climate dynamics in the Department of Geography at The Ohio State University.
Liu and Chengfei He, a graduate student in Ohio State’s atmospheric science program, analyzed model simulations to illustrate how heat is expected to be transferred by the oceans and atmosphere in the near future. The researchers compared the models with historical temperature data from the oceans themselves to paint a clearer picture of how climate change is shifting and will continue to shift these patterns in this century. Their study appears online today (Jan. 28, 2019) in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Without heat transfer, the world’s hottest spots would be sizzling and the coolest spots would be even more frigid. Conditions in both hot and cold climates are affected by the movement of heat from the equator toward the poles in the atmosphere and oceans, He said.