Ocean heat sets record once again: ‘It’s getting worse’

During World War II, the United States dropped an atomic bomb. Hiroshima, Japan, destroying 90% of the city. Last year, the ocean warmed by an amount equal to the energy of five of the bombs that exploded underwater “every second, 24 hours a day, all year,” the researchers say.

Thomas University professor John Abraham is among more than a dozen scientists who revealed this week that the ocean will be “the warmest ever recorded by humans” in 2022. It increased by 10.9 Zetta Joules, an amount of energy equivalent to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and about 100 times the amount of heat generated worldwide in 2021.

Four basins of the seven world ocean regions – the North Pacific, North Atlantic, Mediterranean and southern oceans – had the highest temperature records since the 1950s.

This means ocean heat content has surpassed the previous year’s records for the fourth consecutive year. And while it may seem like a “broken record” at this point, Abraham said it was anything but “normal.”

“This is an ongoing, ongoing trend,” he said. “Every year it gets worse.”

Here’s what the findings, published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, mean for the planet’s current state and future.

More fuel for extreme weather conditions

Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institute for Science and a senior scientist at Breakthrough Energy, told CBS News that the ocean is “the pacemaker of climate systems that respond to our CO2 emissions.”

“The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing from year to year. And these greenhouse gases trap energy in the Earth’s system, preventing it from going into space, and most of that energy goes to the ocean, which causes the ocean to warm.” said.

Some of the ocean heat is transferred from there back to the atmosphere, creating more waves of energy that “make storms stronger,” just like moisture and humidity, Abraham said.

“When the oceans warm and the Earth warms, it makes our weather more wild,” Abraham said. “We’re getting from one extreme to the other faster.”

The latest example of this can be seen in California, which has suffered weeks of severe flooding and flooding. record rain as a series of atmospheric rivers fill the West Coast. Climate change did not cause these atmospheric rivers and storms, but a warmer atmosphere has been associated with making storms more intense.

Global top 2000 m OHC from 1958 to 2022 based on (a) IAP/CAS and (b) NCEI/NOAA data.  1 ZJ = 1021 Jul.  The line shows (a) monthly and (b) seasonal values, and the histogram shows (a) annual and (b) quintuple anomalies relative to the 1981-2010 baseline.  / Credit: Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

Global top 2000 m OHC from 1958 to 2022 based on (a) IAP/CAS and (b) NCEI/NOAA data. 1 ZJ = 1021 Jul. The line shows (a) monthly and (b) seasonal values, and the histogram shows (a) annual and (b) quintuple anomalies relative to the 1981-2010 baseline. / Credit: Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

The oceans face another challenge. When it rains, the fresh water from the clouds helps reduce the salinity in the ocean as new waters arrive. But the data show that rain does not provide equal coverage in the seas; Regions that typically receive a lot of rain get even more rain last year, which reduces their salinity. Meanwhile, those in generally dry environments get even drier, and these levels increase as more water evaporates from what goes down.

Therefore, the salinity contrast index, which is essentially the difference between the highest and lowest salinity levels 2,000 meters above the ocean, also reached its highest recorded level last year.

The high salinity contrast index and high ocean temperatures can make individual weather events more severe.

“And now they’re plotting together,” Abraham told CBS News. “The effects are additive.”

Ocean regulation has become “problematic”

Increasing temperature and salinity measurements have also led to another problem in the ocean – its ability to self-regulate. The water usually experiences vertical mixing, where the water from the top carries precious gases and heat to the bottom of the ocean, while the water from the bottom rises carrying vital nutrients.

The latest study explains that this process is “a central element of Earth’s climate system.” But since 1960, researchers estimate that stratification, or separation of water layers, complicating this process has increased by 5.3% in the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean and nearly quadrupled in the upper 150 meters.

“What we discovered is that mixing is happening less often,” Abraham said. “…They can’t flow down because of climate change and because we’re heating the surface waters too much… That’s also problematic.”

This is because if the heat from the surface cannot mix with the colder water below, that surface will only heat up more, reducing the amount of carbon the water can store; this is a vital ability to prolong the process of global warming. The ocean is like a sponge for carbon emissions, receiving about 90% of the total worldwide heat, but its ability to do so is dwindling. emissions are only increasingExperts say the planet will only warm faster and that the worst effects of climate change will occur sooner.

Investing in climate solutions ‘not smart’

All this data gathered leads Abraham to believe that “we will never meet the Paris Agreement goals” of keeping global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Even the United Nations has said that the world is on track to reach about 3 degrees Celsius when today’s children become grandparents.

We can’t undo the damage that has already been done, but we can prevent it from getting worse, Caldeira said.

“Right now our carbon dioxide emissions “All carbon dioxide emissions from our energy system are about 100 times greater than every volcano and mid-ocean ridge and geothermal vents and anything that exists in nature.” “…The most important thing we can do is move to an energy system that doesn’t use the atmosphere and oceans as garbage.”

“We can solve this problem with today’s technology, we just need to get our ass off and start doing this,” Abraham said, adding that it is “unwise” to do so when you consider the exorbitant costs of climate disasters. at the top 165 billion dollars Last year only in the USA.

This green energy costfor example, it has decreased significantly in recent years and in many cases no longer comparable even cheaper than coal. In the last decade, the cost of installing solar panels has increased fell more than 60%. And last year’s pass Inflation Reduction Act also created numerous opportunities for discounted home upgrades, electric vehicles and more.

“We’ve reached an economic tipping point where using clean energy is starting to make economic sense,” Abraham said. “…The Earth’s climate is a heavy locomotive. And if you want to stop a heavy locomotive, you have to brake and it will take about a mile to stop. … You must start taking action early and allow time for these actions to have measurable results.”

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