World’s oceans warming much faster than thought

A new study published in the journal Science has found that the world’s oceans are warming 40 per cent faster than scientists previously thought.

Comparing their findings with data recorded five years ago by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR5), the researchers also noted that the oceans have been hitting records annually for high temperatures in recent years.

Currently, the oceans absorb around 93 per cent of the heat resulting from greenhouse gases released into the air. That slows the effects of climate change but still leads to more powerful storms, rising sea levels, coral die-offs and other important ecological changes.

“Oceans are really the best thermometer we have for changes in the Earth,” said study author and energy analyst Zeke Hausfather of Berkeley Earth, an independent climate research group, in an interview with the New York Times.

Sea levels would rise by around 30 centimetres by 2100 if the current trends continue, the researchers claimed. The migration of fish to and from colder and hotter waters is already occurring as a result, too, they added.

The researchers used more accurate methods of accounting for temperature. The UN has used floating sensors to measure the heat in the oceans, but those sensors focus on the surface. Older methods used sensors lowered deeper in the water, but they were also subject to fluctuations. The researchers’ studies appeared to confirm that computer climate models of sea temperature were likely more accurate the UN’s floating-sensor approach.

Image credit: Linda Xu via Unsplash

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