Climate ChangeEnvironment

Ocean warming travels twice as fast as 60 years ago

A study analyzes and systematizes all data on ocean warming from 1958 to 2019

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Today the Ocean warming, in the first 2 km of depth, travels at twice the speed of 1958. The consequences, however, do not remain above water. The heat stored by the ocean masses – more or less 90% of the solar radiation that arrives on Earth – is the fuel that makes more intense phenomena such as typhoons and hurricanes and has other global effects. In addition to growing, the heat stored by the oceans goes even deeper than 60 years ago, with consequences for marine life. These are the main results of a study published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.

The upper ocean belt within 700 meters of depth has been warming since the 1960s. The heat content in this portion of the ocean has grown by 229.5 ± 33.8 (ZJ), equal to about 4 ZJ per year. A very high amount of heat: with 2,2 ZJ could heat the entire Earth’s atmosphere by 1°C. On the range between 0 and 2000 meters of depth, the increase is estimated at 351,4 ± 59.8 ZJ or 5.8 ± 1 ZJ per year. Since the 1990s, the warming of the oceans has become detectable even at depths greater than 2000 meters. In general, 88% of cumulative heat is recorded from 1971 onwards (48 years), while the previous 13 years weigh only 12%.

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Is it possible to limit or completely curb this trend of accelerating ocean warming? According to the study, yes: we need immediate and substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. In this way, the accelerated accumulation of heat could be blocked around 2030. The oceans would continue to heat, but follow a flatter curve.

In the meantime, however, we will have to deal with the impact of this phenomenon on the global climate and its consequences on the mainland. A warmer ocean favors more intense storms, more violent floods and more devastating hurricanes. Another consequence of ocean warming is the polarization of arid and wetter areas, since more heat at sea results in more rainfall, but tends to be more concentrated in time and space.

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