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Global Warming Heating Oceans at Rapid Rate

January 19, 2016
Environmental Protection

Scientists have found that the world’s oceans are warming at a rapid rate, with the past 20 years being responsible for half of the increase which has occurred since pre industrial times. Published in the journal Nature Climate, the research carried out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Pennsylvania State University looked at data and models going back to 1865. Oceanographer Peter Gleckler, who led the study, agrees the results were surprising.

“As the upper oceans have been warming over time, more and more of this heat is finding its way down into the deeper ocean, and our results indicate that the fractional amount of heat that is trapped in the deeper ocean is increasing as well,” he said. “We find that the heat uptake of the global oceans has doubled since about 1997, compared to what took place prior to that over the industrial era. And that was a surprising result to us.”

Ocean water has a much higher heat capacity than air, with up to 35% of the additional heat being stored at depths below 700m, known by scientists as the oceans middle layer. While the consequences of temperature rises in the top section of the world’s oceans are well known, the results of warming of the middle layer are less clear. Heating the ocean leads to a rise in sea levels as warm water expands, while absorption of carbon dioxide has also led to oceans becoming 30% more acidic.

You can view a full copy of the report HERE.