UC Berkeley study claims oceans warming faster than previously believed

13 January, 2019, 13:14 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Camels at the shores of Indian Ocean./FILE

Ocean temperatures are less influenced by year-to-year variations in the weather.

'Because the ocean has large heat capacity it is characterized as a 'delayed response´ to global warming, which means that the ocean warming could be more serious in the future, ' the researcher said.

If humans don't do anything to mitigate climate change, warming in the upper part of the ocean will be six times higher by 2081-2100 than total ocean warming in the past 60 years, researchers estimate. "2018 was the warmest year on record for the global ocean, surpassing 2017", added the research leading author, Lijing Cheng at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought", said co-author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Science report linked the warming to more rain, increased sea levels, coral reef destruction, declining ocean oxygen levels and declines in ice sheets, glaciers and ice caps in polar environments.

The oceans are warming at a faster rate than was thought, according to the biggest analysis of sea temperatures so far.

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The system uses nearly 4,000 drifting ocean robots that dive to a depth of 2,000 metres every few days, recording temperature and other indicators as they float back to the surface.

Overall, temperatures in the ocean down to 2,000 metres rose about 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18F) from 1971-2010, he said.

That network has provided consistent data on ocean temperatures and other metrics since the mid-2000s.

The seas are a critical marker of climate change because an estimated 93 percent of the excess solar energy trapped by greenhouse gases accumulates there.

The projected substantial warming for the 21st century - in two different scenarios - "would have major impacts on ocean ecosystems", and sea levels would continue to rise through thermal expansion in addition to the melting of land ice, according to the article.

The study authors say the warming is happening because of climate change created by such human activities as the burning of fossil fuels. The scientists reached that conclusion thanks to about 4,000 buoys deployed in the oceans since 2000 that have measured more ocean warming since 1971 than the United Nations latest estimates, from 2013, revealed. "The global warming signal is a lot easier to detect if it is changing in the oceans than on the surface". It has also contributed to increases in rainfall intensity and stronger, longer-lasting storms, such as Harvey in 2017 and Florence in 2018. It can take more than 1,000 years for deep ocean temperatures to adjust to changes at the surface.

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