Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oceans Are Even Hotter Than We Thought

We know the oceans are heating at an alarming rate. Take a look at this plot of ocean temperature anomalies for today:
Source: Climate Reanalyzer
This not only shows the sea surface temperature anomaly graphically (Wow! That's a lot of red!), but the numbers at the bottom show the anomalies for different regions of the planet. These numbers represent the anomaly for the listed region between today's measured temperature and the long-term average.

As we can see, there is a lot of excess heat being stored in the upper-layer of the ocean. But, a new report indicates it is actually worse than we thought. A paper published in Nature Climate Change says researchers, using data from Argo floating ocean buoys, have found the temperature rise is actually higher than what has been thought - and by a significant amount. The error is attributed to poor data collection in the southern hemisphere. Now, Argo data indicates the sea surface temperature has been rising between 24% and 55% faster since 1970 than previously thought.

That is highly significant.

If you are not familiar with the Argo buoy network, it consists of thousands of free-floating buoys throughout the world. The buoys are designed to float at depth and take direct measurements of the ocean depths down to 2000 meters (surface temperatures can be recorded daily by satellite sensors). After about 10 days, the buoy will inflate a bladder that will make it float to the surface where it will make satellite contact and transmit its data. The buoy will then deflate the bladder and sink again. The battery operated buoys last about four years. The network has been in operation since 2000 and now has about 3500 buoys floating all over the world. This is an obvious upgrade to the old method of collecting data by lowering instruments over the side of research ships. The amount and currency of data is vastly improved and that data is made available to the public via the program website.

One of the consequences of this is the realization of what it means for us here on the land. Eventually, a much warmer ocean will mean a much warmer atmosphere, along with all of the consequences of that warming such as higher utility bills, more expensive food, increased insurance rates and more severe weather.

I'm sorry, I think I just heard another politician say he isn't a scientists but we shouldn't do anything about climate change. I might have been mistaken. It is possible it was the sound of another billionaire counting the money he is making because we still aren't addressing climate change. Its hard to tell because they sound the same.

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