The planet’s oceans hit record high temperatures in 2019 as the rate of climate change speeds up. Analysts have calculated the rate of heat introduced to the world’s waters over the last 25 years is equivalent to the energy created by 3.6 billion atomic bombs.
Man-made climate change has caused rapid growth in global surface air temperature since the 1950s, with 2016 the hottest year on record.
The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions
Professor Cheng Lijing
A new study surveying the impact of warming on the oceans discovered waters in 2019 were at their hottest in recorded human history – increasing by 0.075C above the 1981 to 2010 average.
Oceans are a good method for measuring the planet’s warming as the bodies of water trap more than 90 percent of the excess heat stored on Earth.
Professor Cheng Lijing, lead paper author and associate professor with the International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, said: “This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further proof of global warming.
“There are no reasonable alternatives aside from the human emissions of heat-trapping gases to explain this heating.”
To have increased to the level it has, the ocean will have absorbed 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (228 sextillion) joules of energy.
Professor Cheng added: “That’s a lot of zeros indeed.
“The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions.”
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Researchers studied data from numerous sources including 3,800 Argo floats across the world’s seas and oceans.
Assessing the data with new methods of analysis were combined with heat trends stretching back 70 years, allowing the scientists to learn the last five years have been the warmest on record.
John Abraham, co-author and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St Thomas, said: “It is critical to understand how fast things are changing.
“The key to answering this question is in the oceans – that’s where the vast majority of heat ends up.
“If you want to understand global warming, you have to measure ocean warming.”
He added: “Global warming is real, and it’s getting worse.
“And this is just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come.
“Fortunately, we can do something about it: We can use energy more wisely and we can diversify our energy sources. We have the power to reduce this problem.
Alongside long-term trends, sudden spikes of warmth – such as a north Pacific heatwave from 2013 to 2015 dubbed “the blob” by researchers – can have catastrophic effects on ocean biodiversity.
Dr Kevin Trenberth, co-author and senior scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, said: “The blob is documented to have caused major loss of marine life, from phytoplankton to zooplankton to fish – including a 100 million cod – to marine animals, such as whales.
“These manifestations of global warming have major consequences.”
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