The ocean is warming more than we thought, which means the Earth is warming more too.
Two-thirds of the planet is covered in water and so no surprisingly oceans have an inordinate effect on the Earth’s climate. They absorb vast amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and regulate global temperatures.
Two scientists in the United States who recently published their findings in the journal Nature said the oceans had been absorbing far more heat than previously thought. And by quite a large margin too: their original estimate was that the actual degree was more than 60% than the figure cited in the most recent assessment by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
However, subsequent reviews of their paper by various experts revealed that the authors miscalculated the degree by which the planet’s oceans have warmed, which falls on a far wider scale of probability between 10% and 70% than they assumed and cannot at present be pinned down to a specific figure.
“Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” conceded the paper’s co-author Ralph Keeling, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “We really muffed the error margins.”
Be that as it may, there is a possibility that the planet may be even more sensitive to the effects of excessive fossil-fuel emissions than has been widely assumed. The planet’s oceans has long been known to absorb around 90% of all the excess energy produced as the Earth warms so by trying to find out the actual amount of energy thus absorbed, scientists can calculate the real degree of surface warming.
Keeling and his co-author, Laure Resplandy, a researcher at Princeton University’s Environmental Institute, calculated ocean temperatures according to the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide that rises off the water. They did so with glass flasks filled with air at research stations worldwide. “It’s a promising new method, but we didn’t get the precision right on the first pass,” Keeling admitted.
In their paper Keeling and his colleagues called for greenhouse gas production through human activities to be significantly reduced so as to keep climate change within manageable limits.