A new study has found that the world’s oceans absorbed 60% more heat per year than previously believed, findings that could have serious implications in the fight against climate change.

The research, published in the journal Nature Wednesday, suggests that the Earth is even more sensitive to fossil fuel emissions than experts thought.

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4 thoughts on “World’s oceans have absorbed 60% more heat than previously thought, study finds

  1. Zettajoule eh? Learned something new. Sextillion joules is a lot of heat generated. I think it speaks volumes to the fact we probably have no idea what kind of damage we’ve actually done.

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    • Indeed. We’re learning more every day, though. I’ve been studying climate change since the late 1960s when it was known as “the greenhouse effect.” Back then, the forecasts were quite dire. As the research evolved, the forecasts became a little more optimistic; but, the focus was mainly on atmospheric effects. Over the last two decades, the focus has shifted to the oceans; and, the outcome is again looking very problematic.

      The oceans are key. They are the great moderating mechanism for our climate. But, this mechanism in not limitless. Eventually, the oceans will absorb so much heat, become so acidified and hypoxic (and biologically dead), that the atmosphere will experience what has been dubbed a “runaway greenhouse effect.”

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    • Yes, probably. One of the unfortunate misconceptions about science, particularly about climatology, sees its published results as hyperbolic or as sensationalized. You know, the old “scientists are just trying to make headlines” meme. In reality, science is an incredibly conservative profession. Researchers know their work will be empirically tested through exhaustive peer review, so they are careful about making mistakes which could damage their reputations. Therefore, the conclusions they draw from the evidence tend to be underestimated rather than exaggerated and are typically presented as statistical probabilities. Since climate change is such a hot-button issue, it can make scientists even more conservative in their public statements.

      Another factor is that climate science is learning more every day, and what is being discovered is that the rate of climate change is accelerating.

      Combined, these two factors lead many to see climate change as outpacing our scientific understanding of global warming.

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