Local weather change: Speedy warming of oceans might endanger marine life

Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland Australia 2018

Lijing Cheng also told Reuters that "records for ocean warming had been broken nearly yearly since 2000".

'Because the ocean has large heat capacity it is characterized as a 'delayed response´ to global warming, which means that the ocean warming could be more serious in the future, ' the researcher said.

The paper says that in a scenario where no effort is made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CIMP5) models predict that the top 2,000 meters of oceans will see a temperature rise of 0.78-degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Ocean heating is critical marker of climate change because an estimated 93 percent of the excess solar energy trapped by greenhouse gases accumulates in the world's oceans.

Evidence from the new testing in four independent groups now suggest a stronger observed Heat Ocean Content warming, the journal states, with all four recent studies showing that the rate of ocean warming has accelerated after 1991. Hausfather says that 2018 will be the warmest year on record for the oceans, and notes that 2017 and 2016 were the warmest years on record previously. This change would cause sea levels to raise 30 centimeters, ice glaciers to melt, and stronger storms to hit continents.

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A key factor in the more accurate numbers is an ocean monitoring fleet called Argo, which includes almost 4,000 floating robots that "drift throughout the world's oceans, every few days diving to a depth of 2,000 metres and measuring the ocean's temperature, pH, salinity and other bits of information as they rise back up", said the report.

The results also provide further evidence that earlier claims of a slowdown or "hiatus" in global warming over the past 15 years were unfounded.

Prior to Argo, ocean temperature data was sparse at best, relying on devices called expendable bathythermographs that sank to the depths only once, transmitting data until settling into watery graves. 2018 is likely to be the hottest year for the oceans on record, beating out 2017 which held the record. In reality, the oceans' temperature, at waters down to 2,000 meters, reached a 0.1 degrees Celsius increase between 1975 and 2010.

'For example, even if we meet the target of Paris Agreement (to limit climate change), ocean will continue warming and sea level will continue rise. "The global warming signal is a lot easier to detect if it is changing in the oceans than on the surface".

The robots dive to a depth of 2000 metres every few days, recording the temperature as they float back up to the surface. Warmer seas release more moisture that can stoke more powerful storms. It can take more than 1,000 years for deep ocean temperatures to adjust to changes at the surface.

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