published on 14 January 2019 in

How fast are the oceans warming?

So far, ocean warming has been underestimated while, in fact, it is speeding up in an alarming manner. This is declared by new research into ocean warming, based on analysis of ocean temperature measurements carried out over the past decade. According to the authors of the article (published recently in Science), knowing how much ocean temperatures have changed is essential for understanding climate change. To measure the temperatures, the researchers used Argo, an ocean observation system made up of a network of 3,900 independent floats put into operation in 2010. The data that emerge from the system, together with improvement in the quality of the marine information, show a trend towards a higher increase in temperatures than calculated by the latest IPCC estimate on climate changes in 2013.

The article states that around 93% of the excess heat originating from greenhouse gas emissions has been accumulated in the oceans, creating an energy imbalance, the consequences of which are more violent and frequent hurricanes, destruction of coral reefs, drops in the levels of oxygen in the seas and rising sea levels. And that is not all: in the opinion of Gavin Schmidt, one of the leading climate scientists at Columbia University, the best way of understanding the global energy imbalance of the whole planet is knowledge of ocean temperatures. Indeed, ocean temperatures are far less variable than surface temperatures and, since they do not oscillate from year to year, they may provide clearer and more precise signals on the global warming trend.

According to the article, ocean heat will continue to rise for several decades and, in a high emissions scenario, there could be an increase in ocean temperature of around 0.8°C more than current conditions, with a rise in sea levels of over 30 centimetres by the end of the century. For this reason, while global warming is already occurring, it is essential to start keeping it in check now; every time that we able to slow it down, in fact, we can adapt to it, make plans and deal much better with some of its expected consequences.

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