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Estudio de Sheffield ofrece un mar de oportunidades para la investigación sobre el calentamiento global

Sheffield study offers sea of opportunity for global warming research

A researcher at the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with the Icelandic Meteorological Office and Marine Research Institute in Reykjavik, has put together a unique database to help scientists investigate global warming in the Northern Hemisphere. The team has compiled the first ever comprehensive record of long-term Icelandic sea surface temperatures (SSTs), providing a unique 119 year sea-temperature database, which extends back to the 1880s. The database will provide a vital tool for scientists investigating environmental change around Iceland and the relationship between SSTs and global warming in the Northern Hemisphere.

Iceland is a particularly climatically sensitive region of the North Atlantic, located at a high latitude, close to the winter sea-ice margin and at the meeting point of key ocean currents from the warm Atlantic and cold Arctic waters. Global warming is predicted to have the greatest effects in countries at high latitudes, so the country is seen as an important area for study. SST measurements from around Iceland can also tell us a lot about the climatic conditions in the Northern Atlantic and the Northern Hemisphere, including the UK and other parts of Northwest Europe.

Climate change, through changing sea temperatures in the North Atlantic, has potentially serious repercussions for much of the Northern Hemisphere. Atlantic sea temperatures have been used by various Meteorological Offices for winter forecasting, as they can affect atmospheric circulation and storm tracks across large parts of Europe, including the UK. The compilation and analysis of Icelandic SST variations and trends may help other scientists understand these links.

The database also shows that cold sea temperatures in Iceland over 100 years ago, correlates with a period of relatively colder winters in the UK, during the 19th century. In contrast higher SSTs in Iceland during the nineties and early 21st century reflected a warmer than usual summer in 2003 in the UK and much of the rest of Europe.

As well as being a tool for future studies the database also shows that global warming is not a uniform phenomenon and that the whole world is not, and has not, been warming at the same rate. Like Greenland, Iceland represents a part of the globe that for several decades between 1950 and 1990 actually experienced cooling, acting against the global/Northern Hemisphere warming trend. Unlike many other areas it was no warmer recently in Iceland than during the 20th century warm peak of 1940.

Dr Edward Hanna, a lecturer in climate change in the Department of Geography at the University, who worked on the study, said: "Very little work has been done on this research area for several decades but it has suddenly become very topical with the advent of global warming. We present for the first time a new North Atlantic sea surface temperature record which will be a valuable resource for scientists striving to understand the effects of ocean variability and climate change in the North Atlantic."

Notes for Editors: This research has been published in the Journal of Climate.

Researchers used Archival research, statistical merging and analysis of historical sea surface temperature records for Iceland, to come up with the 120-year database.

For further information please contact: Jenny Wilson, Media Relations Officer on 0114 2225339 or email j.c.wilson@sheffield.ac.uk

Courtesy: The University of Sheffield

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