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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Oceans warming 13% faster than thought, warming doubled in last 2 decades

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New study improves estimates of the rate of ocean warming – a critical component of climate change

  • rate of CO2 into atmosphere 40% higher since 1980
  • ocean is warming about 13% faster than we previously thought.
  • ocean warming has accelerated– from 1992 its is almost 2x warming rate from 1960.
  • it is only since about 1990 that the warming has penetrated to depths below about 700 meters.

New research has convincingly quantified how much the Earth has warmed over the past 56 years. Human activities utilize fossil fuels for many beneficial purposes but have an undesirable side effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. That increase – of over 40%, with most since 1980 – traps heat in the Earth’s system, warming the entire planet….

…Since about 2005 a new type of sensing device has been deployed (the Argo float system). These floats (approximately 3500 in total at any time) are spread out across oceans where they autonomously rise and fall in the ocean waters, collecting temperature data to depths of 2000 meters.  When they rise to the ocean surface, they send their data wirelessly to satellites for later analysis. Hence we can now map the ocean heat content quite well…

…a paper just published today in Science Advances uses a new strategy to improve upon our understanding of ocean heating to estimate the total global warming from 1960 to 2015….shows we are warming about 13% faster than we previously thought. Not only that but the warming has accelerated. The warming rate from 1992 is almost twice as great as the warming rate from 1960. Moreover, it is only since about 1990 that the warming has penetrated to depths below about 700 meters….

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