World’s oceans are heating up at quickening pace

13 January, 2019, 13:15 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • Pariahan village pumps drinking water from a well on Nov. 28 2018 in Bulacan north of Manila in the Philippines

"The warming of the oceans is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have solid evidence that it is warming faster than we thought", said co-author Zeke house father of the University of California.

The latest analysis published in Science shows trends add to a growing body of evidence that ocean warming is accelerating.

Data due for publication next week will show "2018 was the warmest year on record for the global ocean, surpassing 2017", said lead author Lijing Cheng, of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 2018 is likely to be the hottest year for the oceans on record, beating out 2017 which held the record. According to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) models, the temperature of the top 2,000 meters of global oceans will increase by 0.78 degrees Celsius by 2099.

That network has provided consistent data on ocean temperatures and other metrics since the mid-2000s.

Previous year is expected to be the hottest for the oceans on record - explaining the wild fires, severe storms, record breaking rains and droughts that swept the world.

The new study analyzed earlier published information and data compiled by Argo, an worldwide system of almost 4,000 floats that measures temperature and saline levels in the upper parts of the world's oceans.

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"The fact that these corrected records now do agree with climate models is encouraging in that is removes an area of big uncertainty that we previously had", he said. And warming oceans lead to a lot of other dire consequences, some immediately felt by humans and other creatures, and some more generally destructive to life as we've long known it.

Nearly 200 nations plan to phase out fossil fuels this century under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit warming. The 2013 United Nations assessment estimated slower rates of heat uptake but did not give a single comparable number.

Warmer ocean water also raises sea levels by melting ice, including around the edges of Antarctica and Greenland.

They drift across the world, every few days diving to a depth of 2,000 metres measuring temperature, salt and chemicals as they rise back up. Ocean heat content is not bothered much by weather fluctuations that do, however, affect the surface temperatures, and it is somewhat affected by El Niño events. If no actions are taken ("business as usual"), the upper ocean above 2000 meters will warm by 2020 ZetaJoules by 2081-2100, which is about 6 times larger than the total ocean warming during the past 60 years.

Among effects, extra warmth can reduce oxygen in the oceans and damages coral reefs that are nurseries for fish, the scientists said. Warm oceans will also increase the moisture in the atmosphere which will induce powerful storms like Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Harvey.

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