Our Oceans Are Heating Up Faster Than We Thought

The earth’s oceans are heating up at a faster rate than scientists had predicted even just a few years ago.  According to an energy systems analyst at Berkley Earth—an independent climate research group—earth oceans could be heating up as much as 40 percent faster than had been originally estimated.  Also an author of this new study, Zeke Hausfather warns that each year continues to be the warmest on record. 

Now, on the surface, ocean heating might not appear to be a bad thing.  Indeed, many people would likely argue this is a very good thing; after all, its not like the oceans are boiling, right?

Well, researchers say that oceans absorb up to 93 percent of the heat we receive from the sun.  This is important, of course, because if the ocean did not absorb the heat at such a rapid pace, it would get hotter on the surface.  Unfortunately, the study warns that our oceans are losing their ability to absorb heat at a rapid pace.  

Rutgers University associate professor in the department of ecology, evolution, and natural resources, Malin L. Pinsky comments, “If the ocean wasn’t absorbing as much heat, the surface of the land would heat up much faster than it is right now.  In fact, the ocean is saving us from massive warming.”

Perhaps more importantly, though, this will result in a more pronounced warming effect, which will certainly change our atmosphere, and for the worst.  A hotter atmosphere will cause ice to melt faster and cause areas to dry out, resulting in more desertification.  The more extreme atmosphere will also result in stronger storms with more rainfall and, at the end of the day, rising sea levels.  Our oceans are already at quite the tipping point, so accelerating the rate by which they fill could quickly turn disastrous. 

While this caution is very simple, the reality is much more complicated.  After all, it is not easy to simply measure the overall ocean temperature.  In your home or in your body it is easy to measure temperature because these are self-contained and regulated environments.  Determining ocean temperature, however, involves measuring the temperature at different depths as well as on the surface.  These conditions, of course, change all the time; and the measurements we take and use to analyze the data are only as good as the tools available to do so. And, long story short, this technology could use a few updates. 

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