Oceans have absorbed 60% more heat than previously thought, study finds

Earth's oceans have absorbed 60 percent more heat than previously thought

The situation described so far suggests that fossil fuel emissions are even more risky and the attempt to keep global warming from reaching higher levels is more hard.

In the current study, the team - rather than measuring the temperature of oceans directly - measured the volume of carbon dioxide, oxygen and other gases that escaped the oceans (as they heated) in recent decades and moved into the atmosphere.

"It was in the ocean already", Laure Resplandy from Princeton University - who led the study - told the Washington Post. "Our data show that it would have warmed by 6.5 degrees Celsius every decade since 1991".

The world's oceans may be heating up at a faster pace than previously thought, leaving the planet less time to avoid catastrophic global warming, according to a study published Wednesday.

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A report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this month called for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes" to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius instead of 2 degrees, in order to offer the best chance of protecting people, property and natural ecosystems - and "ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society".

Ralph Keeling, a Scripps Oceanography geophysicist and Resplandy's former postdoctoral adviser said, "The result significantly increases the confidence we can place in estimates of ocean warming and therefore helps reduce uncertainty in the climate sensitivity, particularly closing off the possibility of very low climate sensitivity". (3.6?), it is all but certain that society will face widespread and risky consequences of climate change.

This compares with an IPCC estimate of a 4°C rise each decade. This allows them to accurately measure ocean temperatures globally, dating back to 1991, when accurate data from a global network of stations became available.

"It's not that easy to reliably estimate the whole ocean heat from spot measurements", Keeling said.

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So the scientists behind the new report measured how warm the oceans have gotten by looking at how much oxygen they're putting into the air at the surface. The technique relies upon the way that oxygen and carbon dioxide are both less dissolvable in hotter water. APO additionally is affected by consuming petroleum derivatives and by an ocean process including the take-up of overabundance non-renewable energy source CO2. The extra heat absorbed by the ocean every year is more than eight times the world's annual energy consumption. By comparing the changes in APO they observed with the changes expected due to fossil-fuel use and carbon dioxide uptake, researchers were able to calculate how much APO emanated from the ocean becoming warmer.

ImageA coral reef in the Maldives has been bleached white by heat stress.CreditCreditThe Ocean Agency/XL Catlin Seaview Survey, via Associated PressWant climate news in your inbox?

The study was funded by NOAA's Climate Program Office and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

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