Oceans Are Absorbing Much More Heat Than Expected, Says Study


"If that is true, it has major implications for the world".

Princeton and Scripps researchers report that the world's oceans absorbed more than 13 zettajoules - which is a joule, the standard unit of energy, followed by 21 zeroes - of. If they did, they would be more careful with nature and the environment, especially now, when we know that climate change has become a big threat for all of us. However, with all that said, I think we need some more time to absorb this.

"It's not that easy to reliably estimate the whole ocean heat from spot measurements", Keeling said.

Under the Paris agreement, governments around the world agreed to keep the temperature rise below 1.5 Celsius to avoid global warming's worst impacts.

Imagine if the ocean was only 30 feet deep, said first author Laure Resplandy, an assistant professor of geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

The researchers' findings suggest that if society is to prevent temperatures from rising above that mark, emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas produced by human activities, must be reduced by 25 percent compared to what was previously estimated, Resplandy said.

As well as potentially making it more hard to keep warming below 1.5 or even 2C this century, all that extra heat going into the oceans will prompt some significant changes in the waters. For example, the marine ecosystem will be affected by warmer waters and many species could disappear. The specialist said that findings show worrying data: sea levels could rise much sooner than the initial predictions.

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Scientists work out surface warming with the knowledge that the ocean takes up roughly 90 percent of all the excess energy produced as the Earth warms. The hotter it is, the more oxygen and carbon dioxide the ocean pushes out.

This higher-than-anticipated amount of heat energy in the oceans suggests that the issue of global warming is at a more advanced stage than believed, and that the Earth is warming at a faster rate than predicted. Researchers previously measured this using millions of measurements from a network of robotic sensors across the world known as Argo.

Resplandy and Keeling instead collected data by measuring the volume of gases, particularly oxygen and carbon dioxide, that have escaped the ocean as it heats up and entered the atmosphere over the past few decades.

"When the ocean warms, the amount of these gases that the ocean is able to hold goes down", said Dr Resplandy.

A report by Reuters published this week - after a year-long investigation into seas between the east coast of the U.S. and West Africa - found that "marine creatures are fleeing for their lives" because of unprecedented ocean warming that is causing "an epic underwater refugee crisis".

Moreover, he warned that the heat the oceans have been absorbing can still be transferred back to the atmosphere in the centuries to come.

As the seas are now retaining additional energy, more is becoming trapped by Earth's atmosphere.