I was lucky enough to play a small role in a new study, just published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, showing that Earth broke another record for heat last year. Twenty-three scientists from around the world came together to analyze thousands of temperature measurements taken in the world’s oceans. The measurements, taken at least 2,000 meters (about 6,500 feet) deep and spread across the globe, paint a clear picture: Earth is warming, humans are to blame, and warming will continue indefinitely until we take collective action to reduce greenhouse gases. emissions
We use measurements of the oceans because they are absorbing the vast majority of the heat associated with global warming. In fact, more than 90% of the heat from global warming ends up in the oceans. I like to say that “global warming is actually the warming of the oceans.” If you want to know how fast climate change is happening, the answer is in the oceans.
But this work was not simply an academic exercise. It has tremendous consequences for society and the planet’s biodiversity. As the oceans warm, they threaten Marine life and the many food chains that originate in the sea. Warmer ocean waters make storms more severe. Cyclones and hurricanes become more powerful; the rains fall harder, which increases flooding; storm surges are more dangerous; Y Rising sea levels (One of the main causes of sea level rise is the expansion of water as it warms).
How much did the world’s oceans warm in 2021 compared to the previous year? Well, our data shows that the oceans warm by about 14 zettajoules (one zettajoule is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules of energy). This is a mind-boggling number, so it can be helpful to use analogies. This is the equivalent of 440,000 million roasters operating 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Another way to think about this is that the oceans have absorbed the heat equivalent to seven Hiroshima atomic bombs detonating every second, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I have plotted ocean heat, measured since the late 1950s, and the clear and persistent rise over the past three or four decades is unequivocal proof of an unbalanced Earth.
The oceans are vast and it takes many measurements spread across the planet to get a good idea of what is happening to the oceans as a whole. This study used high-tech temperature sensors on autonomous buoys that rise and fall in ocean waters as they take measurements. These sensors then send the data to laboratories around the world for analysis. In addition, we implemented high-quality ship temperature sensors, stationary buoy temperatures, and even sensors attached to animals to be able to measure the temperatures of the water they were traveling through. Our research was made possible by thousands of field researchers collecting and processing the raw data. Without your contribution, studies like this would not be possible.
We found that temperatures do not rise uniformly across the planet. We found the fastest warming in the Atlantic, Indian and North Pacific oceans. In our work we also explore the question of why this pattern is emerging the way it is. Using climate model simulations, we directly linked various ocean features to human emissions of industrial pollution and greenhouse gases. These findings suggest that a similar pattern is likely to persist for decades to come.
The information we use is absolutely crucial to understanding the planet. You could say that we take the temperature of the Earth, and the fever of the Earth is getting worse.
I asked my colleague Alexey Mishonov, a research scientist at the University of Maryland, about the implications of these findings. “Our results showed that ocean warming is widely penetrating the deepest layers of the ocean,” said Dr. Mishonov. “The resulting increase in the heat content of the ocean cannot be adequately assessed without actual measurements. We need to continue our field missions and collect this data. “
My New Years resolution is to help the planet cool down. It’s hot in here and there are no signs that things are going to change anytime soon. Collectively, we certainly have the technology to reduce greenhouse gases, but we’ve never really shown the will.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism