UC Berkeley study claims oceans warming faster than previously believed

Gwen Vasquez
January 13, 2019

The new analysis shows warming in the oceans is on pace with measurements of rising air temperature.

And today, researchers writing in the journal Science claim the warming of oceans worldwide since the 1970s has happened 40 per cent faster than previously estimated.

A resident of Pariahan village pumps drinking water from a well, on November 28, 2018 in Bulacan, north of Manila in the Philippines. 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.

(Imaginechina via AP) Landscape of the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, Australia, 2018.

"The fairly steady rise in OHC [ocean heat content] shows that the planet is clearly warming", the report stated, adding that rising sea levels and temperatures should be concerning, "given the abundant evidence of effects on storms, hurricanes and the hydrological cycle, including extreme precipitation events". 2018 is likely to be the hottest year for the oceans on record, beating out 2017 which held the record. Dubbed Argo, the AI fleet has provided consistent ocean warming data since the mid-2000s, and enabled the team to correct previous ocean warming observations.

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This thermal expansion will lead to a temperature rise of 0.78 degrees Celsius by the end of the century - raising sea levels a foot (30cm) on top of that caused by melting glaciers and ice sheets. Emissions in the United States jumped 3.4 percent a year ago from 2017 - the second-largest annual increase in more than two decades, according to a preliminary estimate by the economic research company Rhodium Group.

The newly available data show stronger ocean warming since 1960 than earlier reported by the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report in 2013.

'If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans, ' said Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the paper. Ocean temperatures are reportedly not affected by functions that occur annually like El Nino.

The climate models project continuous ocean warming in the 21th century; how much depends on human actions to address climate change.

The U.S. joined the deal last month despite President Donald Trump's 2017 pledge to withdraw the country from the Paris accord. 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. "In fact, the ocean is saving us from massive warming right now". Warmer seas release more moisture that can stoke more powerful storms.

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