Climate scientists alarmed at speed of ocean warming

Federico Mansilla
Enero 12, 2019

In the next six decades the temperature is set to rise by at least six times more than it has in the last six, warn scientists.

A U.S. government report in November delivered a similar dire warning that the country could lose hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives by the end of the century due to climate change.

"If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans", said Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the paper.

'Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought'.

His team relied on data from Argo, a fleet of nearly 4,000 floating robots launched more than 13 years ago.

A key factor in the more accurate numbers is an ocean monitoring fleet called Argo, which includes almost 4,000 floating robots that "drift throughout the world's oceans, every few days diving to a depth of 2,000 metres and measuring the ocean's temperature, pH, salinity and other bits of information as they rise back up", said the report.

The study fits within other reports like the United Nations warning in October that humanity has just over 10 years to act to avoid disastrous levels of global warming. According to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) models, the temperature of the top 2,000 meters of global oceans will increase by 0.78 degrees Celsius by 2099. It can take more than 1,000 years for deep ocean temperatures to adjust to changes at the surface.

This would work out at 480 Zetajoules over 60 years.

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The earth's oceans have absorbed more than 90% of heat caused by greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere, according to the New York Times, making them a vital regulator for the planet's thermostat.

Mr Hausfather said: "While 2018 will be the fourth warmest year on record on the surface, it will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that".

We could see many more weather-related problems if the ocean continues to warm at this accelerated pace, especially if there is no human intervention to manage climate change, experts say.

Prior to Argo, ocean temperature data was sparse at best, relying on devices called expendable bathythermographs that sank to the depths only once, transmitting data until settling into watery graves.

Though a warmer ocean might make for a more pleasant swim, it carries deadly consequences.

For now, however, climate-changing emissions continue to rise, and 'I don´t think enough is being done to tackle the rising temperatures, ' Cheng said.

If the target of the Paris Agreement to keep global temperatures within 2 degrees Celsius of their pre industrial levels can be reached the total ocean warming must be cut in half to about 1,037 ZetaJoules by 208. It costs a lot to produce.

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