Environment

Ocean temperatures hit highest levels ever recorded

Ocean temperatures hit highest...
A new study has revealed not just how warm our ocean's have gotten, but that they continue to do so at an accelerated pace
A new study has revealed not just how warm our ocean's have gotten, but that they continue to do so at an accelerated pace
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A new study has revealed not just how warm our ocean's have gotten, but that they continue to do so at an accelerated pace
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A new study has revealed not just how warm our ocean's have gotten, but that they continue to do so at an accelerated pace

Where some consequences of climate change are plain to see, like the bushfires currently ravaging Australia, others require us to look beneath the surface – but that doesn't make them any less significant. As the planet has continued to warm, nowhere has this been felt more than its oceans, which absorb the majority of extra heat captured as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. A new study has laid bare the alarming reality of this trend, with the analysis revealing the world's oceans were warmer in 2019 than any other time in recorded human history.

The research was carried out by an international team of scientists representing 11 institutes across the world, and made use of a new analysis technique developed at China's Institute of Atmospheric Physics, which the researchers say allowed for more accurate temperature measurements dating back to the 1950s.

According to the team's analysis, the temperature of the oceans in 2019 were around 0.075° C (0.135° F) above the 1981-2010 average. To put that into units of energy required to generate that warmth, the scientists calculate that the ocean has soaked up 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (228 sextillion) joules of heat.

"That's a lot of zeros indeed," says Lijing Cheng, lead author and associate professor at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics. "To make it easier to understand, I did a calculation. The Hiroshima atom-bomb exploded with an energy of about 63,000,000,000,000 Joules. The amount of heat we have put in the world's oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions. This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further proof of global warming. There are no reasonable alternatives aside from the human emissions of heat trapping gases to explain this heating."

The scientists also looked at the last six or so decades of ocean warming, comparing the 1955-1986 period to the years between 1987 and 2019. The data revealed that the recent period was around 450 percent more severe, illustrating not just how the oceans (and planet) continue to warm, but how they are doing so at an accelerating pace.

"It is critical to understand how fast things are changing," says John Abraham, co-author and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas in the United States. "The key to answering this question is in the oceans – that's where the vast majority of heat ends up. If you want to understand global warming, you have to measure ocean warming."

More than 90 percent of global warming since 1970 has been absorbed by the oceans, according to the team. This has implications for the severity of tropical storms and weather, rising sea levels and marine life. Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which recently endured a string of severe bleaching events and vast coral die-offs, is one example.

"The price we pay is the reduction of ocean-dissolved oxygen, the harmed marine lives, strengthening storms and reduced fisheries and ocean-related economies," Cheng says. "However, the more we reduce greenhouse gasses, the less the ocean will warm. Reduce, reuse and recycle and transferring to a clean energy society are still the major way forward."

The research was published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

Source: EurekAlert

15 comments
f8lee
But, given that "recorded human history" might span, what, a couple of centuries? - is it really wise to derive conclusions based on this data point? Or is it just another way for alarmists to somehow blame man for all this horribleness? Watching Tony Heller's video showing how the "data" used to convince officials that we are all going to die in 12 years was cherry picked, at minute 3:20 or so he speaks of arctic ice sheet coverage - at least watch that part to get a sense of what has really been measured. And even that only goes back to the 1970's; knowing as we do there was a mini ice age 7-8000 years ago tells us the ice sheet spread much further south, no? The point is, given climate is always dynamic and changing (and has been for billions of years), it seems rather arrogant to implicitly make the claim that because the ocean is the warmest in "all the recorded time that man has measured it" it has actual weight.
paul314
The trolls never sleep. Ironically, if it were true that natural cycles dominated current climate change we would be wanting to reduce the human contribution to warming even more than we think we do now. Because it's the only control mechanism we have (other than, say, nuclear winter), and current trends are not really compatible with continuing global civilization.
Charles Yeomans
As scientist we should not believe anything till there is absolute conclusive proof, and even then doubt it. What do you make of this from NASA https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2361/study-mass-gains-of-antarctic-ice-sheet-greater-than-losses/
Jorel
@Charles Yoemans, talk about cherry-picking... The article you cited's latest data is 2003-2008, and even it says "To help accurately measure changes in Antarctica, NASA is developing the successor to the ICESat mission, ICESat-2, which is scheduled to launch in 2018." So, to be clear, since then with this new data, recent trends (like massive ice-shelf collapses) have been far more clear and disturbing. Find a study in the last 5 years that agrees that the loss of Antarctic ice mass is not problematic, and get back to us...
Crazyoldranga
You lost me when you claim that climate change caused the bushfires currently ravaging Australia’s East coast. Arsonists, lightning strikes and electrical faults cause bushfires. A lack of long term fuel reduction has made them worse. The next part if the cycle will be the heavy rains and flooding that comes along afterward, followed by regrowth of the bush, which if not kept under control will exacerbate fires during the next drought.
Anne Ominous
There are a couple of silly comments here. Probably the first thing that should be noted is that the amount they say 2019 was warmer (0.075ºC) is less than the actual data uncertainty, which makes the claim rather tenuous at best. And despite claims made by non-statisticians (and even some statisticians), "homogenizing" this type of rather enormously non-homogeneous data does not reduce the uncertainty. Add to that questionable adjustments that have been made by the climate science community (and I am referring to water temperatures, not CO2), you have a very questionable claim at best. A decade or two from now, we might be able to make some real conclusions based on ARGO network data, but that has known issues, too. I'd want to know a lot more about that Chinese "analysis technique" before I put any faith in it.
aksdad
Thanks for the junk science. When you look at the lack of evidence, the sparse data, and the (more) hyperbole, it's hard to get worked up about this study claiming that the oceans have warmed up by an average of 0.1° C over the last 60 years (or 228 zettajoules! as the doomsayers like to proclaim). Yeah, all those zettajoules don't amount to much over 1.35 billion cubic kilometers of ocean. And if it's really such a big deal, you gotta wonder why they use a number that's completely meaningless to everyone, then use that fairy tale number to calculate the equivalent in Hiroshima explosions. How many Hiroshima explosions of energy are released by all the storm systems on the planet in a single day? Calculate that and get back to us. It's all doomsaying nonsense. What's missing here is a LOT of context. Consistent measurement of ocean temperature was non-existent before the Argo project began deploying floats in 2000, so we don't know much, if anything about the years 1955 to 1986 except in a very, very, very few places, and we certainly don't know what the 1981 to 2010 average is for the entire ocean. We have data from thousands of Argo floats after 2000 that gives us some idea of the average from 2000 to 2010, but the ocean is awash in currents that transport different temperature water all over the place and the Argo buoys float freely about. The oceans aren't a consistent temperature. It's like sticking thermometers in thousands of different streams all over the world and thinking that if some of them warm up a little, but the others don't, and the average shows that there is some warming overall that all the streams are warming. Knowing this, you can see why statements like "More than 90 percent of global warming since 1970 has been absorbed by the oceans" or "The data revealed that the recent period was around 450 percent more severe, illustrating not just how the oceans (and planet) continue to warm" are ludicrous. There's just no data to support that. In fact, satellite measurements of surface temperature going back to 1979 that cover 90% of the planet (a whole heckuva lot more than the Argo floats), show that the warming trend from the 1970's to 2000 has slowed significantly.
Yankee Dandy
Yes the seas are at their highest temperatures and the glaciers that were suppose to be melted and gone by now are still here, go figure!!!
Cobrarog
Have any of those geniuses considered the possibility that the oceans may be heated by underwater volcanic and geothermal activity thus causing the weather phenomena we are experiencing and being sold as 'Global Warming'?
Signguy
Anybody remember a little thing called "Climate Gate"?