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The current “pause” in global warming that has baffled climate scientists could last at least another decade because of oceanic cooling cycles, according to a new report.

A new report published in the journal Science found that the global warming “slowdown is mainly caused by heat transported to deeper layers in the Atlantic and the Southern oceans, initiated by a recurrent salinity anomaly in the subpolar North Atlantic.”

Heat is trapped more easily because the “waters in the Atlantic current coming up from the tropics are saltier because of evaporation,” notes the BBC. “This sinks more quickly and takes the heat down with it.”

The report, led by Professor Ka-Kit Tung from the University of Washington, also noted the “[c]ooling periods associated with the latter deeper heat-sequestration mechanism historically lasted 20 to 35 years.”

So far, about 30 theories have been put forward about why global temperatures stopped rising in the late 1990s, leading to a near two-decade hiatus in global warming, according to satellite data. Currently, more than half the satellite temperature record — which began in 1979 — shows no warming trend, despite rapidly rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

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