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The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO, was a term coined by climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann to better understand temperature fluctuations of the North Atlantic Ocean. The AMO was thought to be a naturally occurring oscillation of warm and cool phases every 20-40 years and was used by scientists to analyze hurricanes and storms.
Why This Matters: Mann explained in a blog post that upon presentation of the AMO model “The scientific community ran with the concept, and some scientists—even some at our leading research laboratories…continued to misapply it in a way that downplays some critical climate change impacts.”
He underscores that the urgency with which humans are altering the natural world must be swiftly addressed. There’s still time to act, according to Mann–but certainly, no time to lose.
The Specifics: This study found that when greenhouse gases escape into the atmosphere, they also release sulphate aerosols — which are solid particles that block light. Though greenhouse gases are known to trap heat in the atmosphere, these sulphate aerosols block light from reaching the earth’s surface, which can actually cool the earth down. The interplay between the earth’s cooling and warming can induce the change in ocean temperatures that researchers thought were effects of the AMO.
Furthermore, to account for preindustrial oscillations in Atlantic Ocean temperatures and weather, research attributed volcanic eruptions with their vast releases of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Rethinking the AMO: These findings could have huge implications for meteorology and climate change research, and shows how human-caused climate change can cause deadly disasters.
In the study, researchers weren’t able to recreate the effects of the AMO in a controlled climate with no external forces. With Dr. Mann telling CBS News: “I was wrong about the existence of an internal AMO oscillation when I coined the term 20 years ago.”
That said, some experts think that these results are premature. Keven Trenberth, from the National Center of Atmospheric Research, told CBS News that these computer models may not be totally accurate. Even so, Trenberth concedes that variability from aerosols and greenhouse gases have played at least some role in sea surface temperature changes.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer After a record-breaking drought, much of the West and Southwest has been hoping for a winter of rain. But with scientists predicting a second consecutive winter with La Niña conditions, the dry spell may be prolonged. La Niña is a climate pattern that tends to produce droughts in the […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor As California’s summer fire season comes to a close, autumn’s Santa Ana winds have intensified a fast-moving wildfire now terrorizing Santa Barbara County. The Alisal fire began Monday afternoon. Since then, it has engulfed 16,801 acres and is only 5% contained, according to CalFire. As a result, a portion […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor According to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there have been 18 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2021, surpassing 2020’s disaster costs with almost three months still left until 2022. Experts say that weather events across the spectrum, including wildfires, hurricanes, and severe weather, are not […]
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