Oceans heating faster: study

Oceans heating faster: study


  1. According to a new study published in journal ‘Nature’, the scientists have noted that the global oceans may be absorbing up to 60 percent more heat since the 1990s than older estimates had found.

Important Facts:

  1. New novel method in the study:
  • Unlike earlier studies, which relied on tallying the excess heat produced by known man-made greenhouse gas emissions, the new research does not measure the ocean’s temperature directly.
  • Rather, it measures the volume of gases, specifically oxygen and carbon dioxide, that have escaped the ocean in recent decades and headed into the atmosphere as the ocean heats up.
  • Both gases ( oxygen and carbon dioxide) are soluble in water, but the rate at which water absorbs them decreases as it warms.
  • By measuring atmospheric oxygen and CO2 for each year, scientists were able to more accurately estimate how much heat oceans had absorbed on a global scale.
  1. Findings of the study:
  • The world’s oceans have absorbed 60% more heat than previously thought over the last quarter of a century.
  • This difference represents an enormous amount of additional energy, originating from the sun and trapped by Earth’s atmosphere — the yearly amount representing more than eight times the world’s annual energy consumption.
  • It found that for each of the last 25 years, oceans had absorbed heat energy equivalent to 150 times the amount of electricity mankind produces annually.
  • The mankind must once again revise down its carbon footprint, with emissions needing to fall 25% compared to previous estimates to avoid a warming of two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).
  • The warming found in the study is “more than twice the rates of long-term warming estimates from the 1960s and ’70s to the present,”.
  1. Implications of the new study:
  • The new research underscores the potential consequences of global inaction.
  • Rapidly warming oceans mean that seas levels will rise faster.
  • More heat will be delivered to critical locations that already are facing the effects of a warming climate, such as coral reefs in the tropics and the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.
  • The world could now move towards having a smaller “carbon budget” than once thought.
  • Carbon budget refers to the amount of carbon dioxide humans can emit while still being able to keep warming below dangerous levels.

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