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techkenyot.com March 20, 2019


Oceans absorbing 60% more heat than thought, say scientists

04 November 2018, 07:58 | Edward Lowe

A man walks past a boat anchored at the Indian Ocean in Mombasa 2011. /FILE

A man walks past a boat anchored at the Indian Ocean in Mombasa 2011. /FILE

According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, ocean temperatures have been warming 60 percent more than outlined by the IPCC.

But these new numbers suggest those targets may have to be revised upward by 25 percent.

According to Resplandy, the world's oceans have taken up more than 13 zettajoules of energy every year between 1991 and 2016.

A zettajoule is one sextillion (a 1 followed by 21 zeroes) joules, which is the standard unit of energy.

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"Imagine if the ocean was only 30 feet deep", said Resplandy, who was a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps. "Our data shows that it would have warmed by 6.5ºC every decade since 1991". "It's not like completely changing our understanding of what the ocean might be taking up - it's a new type of measurement that's weighing in toward the higher end of that."There are some caveats".

Scientists know that the ocean takes up roughly 90 percent of all the excess energy produced as the Earth warms, so knowing the actual amount of energy makes it possible to estimate the surface warming we can expect, said co-author Ralph Keeling, a Scripps Oceanography geophysicist and Resplandy's former postdoctoral adviser. The warmer waters also cause sea levels to rise and make extreme weather events like hurricanes more destructive.If scientists can more accurately measure the speed at which oceans are warming, they can better predict the future effects of climate change. Warmer water means reduced oxygen, killing off the ecosystem that thrives within. APO additionally is affected by consuming petroleum derivatives and by an ocean process including the take-up of overabundance non-renewable energy source CO2. Resplandy and her team compared the expected rise in APO due to the burning of fossil fuels, and compared it to the actual APO they were seeing.

Now, researchers have developed what they say is a highly precise method of detecting the temperature of the ocean by measuring the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air.

Most climate scientists have agreed that if global average temperatures exceed pre-industrial levels by 2 degrees Celsius, it is all but certain society will face widespread and unsafe consequences of climate change. Many climate scientists predict that if temperatures go above that mark, humans will be faced with devastating long-term global affects.

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Over the past couple hundred years, as humans have burned coal, cleared forests, put gas-powered cars and trucks on the road, and run air conditioners and refrigerators, the oceans have been quietly gathering up most of the carbon emissions those activities spew into the air.

This new reality suggests that it is even more unlikely that global warming will remain below the maximum of 2 degrees Celsius established in the Paris agreement.

This new research suggests that accomplishing that goal requires countries to pull 25 percent more carbon out of the atmosphere than they've already committed to cleaning up.

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