Oceans heating up faster than expected, set record in 2018

Cristina Cross
January 13, 2019

The newly available ocean heat content time series from multiple groups show more consistent but stronger ocean warming since 1960 than previously reported (by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report published in 2013).

The latest analysis published in Science shows trends add to a growing body of evidence that ocean warming is accelerating.

Researchers said this showed that, contrary to the claims of some sceptics, the world was warming at a...

We could see many more weather-related problems if the ocean continues to warm at this accelerated pace, especially if there is no human intervention to manage climate change, experts say.

Mr Hausfather said: "While 2018 will be the fourth warmest year on record on the surface, it will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that". Also, the quality of older ocean data has been substantially improved, and there are both better and independent methods that account for the sparseness of ocean data before Argo era. According to a report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in the journal "Science".

The rising sea levels result from the raised temperatures, as warm water takes up more space than cold water.

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Though a warmer ocean might make for a more pleasant swim, it carries deadly consequences.

If the targets of the Paris deal to hold warming to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, or preferably 1.5C can be met, however, expected damage by 2100 could be halved, Cheng said. Moreover, the revised and updated ocean heat content record is much more in step with the warming predicted by climate models, thereby providing much more confidence in expectations for the future. The 2013 United Nations assessment estimated slower rates of heat uptake but did not give a single comparable number. The thermal expansion caused by this bump in temperature would raise sea levels 30 centimeters, or around 12 inches, on top of the already significant sea level rise caused by melting glaciers and ice sheets.

In the same direction, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service estimated that 2018 had been the hottest year regarding global surface temperature. These robots measure ocean temperature, salinity, and pH.

"If the ocean wasn't absorbing as much heat, the surface of the land would heat up much faster than it is right now", Malin Pinsky, an associate professor in the department of ecology, evolution and natural resources at Rutgers University, told The New York Times.

Ocean warming is reducing the levels of oxygen in the oceans and affects the coral reefs around the world. It has also contributed to increases in rainfall intensity and stronger, longer-lasting storms, such as Harvey in 2017 and Florence in 2018.

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