Washington: Deep oceans may absorb enough heat to mask the effects of global warming for decades.
A study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet where the "missing heat" is concealed during periods such as the past decade.
"We will see global warming go through hiatus periods in the future," National Center for Atmospheric Research`s (NCAR) Gerald Meehl, who led the study, was quoted as saying by the journal Nature Climate Change.
"However, these periods would likely last only about a decade or so, and warming would then resume. This study illustrates one reason why global temperatures do not simply rise in a straight line," said Meehl, according to an NCAR statement.
The research by scientists at NCAR and the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia, was funded by the US National Science Foundation.
The 2000-10 was Earth`s warmest decade in more than a century of weather records. However, the single-year mark for warmest global temperature, which was set in 1998, remained unmatched until 2010.
Yet emissions continued to rise during the 2000s, and satellite measurements showed that the discrepancy between incoming sunshine and outgoing radiation from Earth actually increased.
This implied that heat was building up somewhere on Earth, according to a 2010 study published in Science by NCAR researchers Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo.