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The oceans are heating up 40% faster than scientists realized — which means we should prepare for more disastrous flooding and storms

Bleached coral

The world’s oceans are heating up 40% faster than scientists previously thought, according to a new study.
That means sea levels could rise a foot by 2100.
Higher sea levels contribute to costly coastal flooding and cause hurricanes to be more severe.
Last year was most likely the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans, up from 2017 and 2016, according to one of the study’s authors.

Earth’s oceans absorb a whopping 93% of the extra heat that greenhouse gases trap in the atmosphere.

A new study has revealed that this absorption process is happening far faster than scientists had realized.

According to an analysis published in the journal Science, the world’s oceans are heating up 40% faster (on average) than the last estimate from the world’s scientific authority on climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In one sense, the oceans’ heat-trapping abilities help us in the short term.

“If the ocean wasn’t absorbing as much heat, the surface of the land would heat up much faster than it is right now,” Malin Pinsky, an associate professor of ecology and natural resources at Rutgers University, told the New York Times. “In fact, the ocean is saving us from massive warming right now.”

But overall, warmer oceans are a major problem. More heat in the water can negatively impact marine species, kill coral reefs, fuel sea-level rise, and lead to more severe storms. The authors of the new study calculated that in a “business-as-usual” scenario — in which we continue emitting greenhouse gasses as projected — rising ocean temperatures would lead sea levels to rise a full foot between now and the year 2100.

That’s because water, like most things, expands when it’s heated. This thermal expansion is one of the driving forces behind sea-level rise; even small changes in temperature results in a large increase in water volume.

Bearers of bad news

A handful of studies about ocean temperature since 2014 have conflicted with the IPCC numbers. So this new analysis looked at four such studies and concluded that some adjustments in how ocean heat gets measured were to blame for the discrepancy.

Taking those adjustments into account, the scientists figured out that oceans are warming much faster than the IPCC calculated in 2014. By the end of this century, the study suggests, the top 2,000 meters of the ocean will see a temperature rise of 0.78 degrees Celsius (about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit). The analysis also refutes claims that there was a global warming “hiatus” — a pause in temperature rise — between 2000 and 2014.

Zeke Hausfather, one of the study’s co-authors and a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, told Berkeley News that 2018 “will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that.” (Though the final calculations for last year aren’t in yet.)

As ocean temperatures continue to increase, we’ll see more coastal flooding because of sea-level rise, as well as heavier rainfall …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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