The World's Oceans Are Warming Up Much Faster Than We Thought

According to a new study, oceans worldwide are warming up 40% faster than a UN study predicted five years ago.

The World's Oceans Are Warming Up Much Faster Than We Thought
The World's Oceans Are Warming Up Much Faster Than We Thought

There's been a lot of alarming news about global warming lately. This also applies to a recent scientific publication, published Thursday, January 10 in the journal Science.

Discover our latest podcast

While a study on ocean warming had been conducted by the United Nations five years ago, scientists found that their temperature was actually rising 40% faster than expected.

Oceans absorb heat

Oceans have the capacity to absorb the effects of climate change. It has been calculated that the world's waters capture 93% of the heat trapped in the atmosphere by the increase in greenhouse gases.

"If the ocean did not capture all that heat, global temperature would be much higher than it is now," says Malin Pinsky, ecology professor at Rutgers University in New York, to the New York Times."

"Actually, the ocean is already saving us from massive warming right now," he says. Oceans are saving the planet at the moment, however, the consequences this has on them are catastrophic.

Many disastrous consequences

In fact, ocean warming has the effect of accelerating the melting of glaciers, and therefore the rise in sea levels. Coral reefs, unable to adapt, die as precipitation rises, as do the intensity of tornadoes and other extreme weather events.

According to the authors of this study, these phenomena are expected to increase in number and intensity in the years to come. Hurricanes Harvey and Florence, that have touched the United States in the last two years, should be only the first in a long series.

Consequences on fishing

But that's not all: millions of people, especially in the tropics, who depend on fishing for a living, could be affected. The destruction of coral reefs, which serve as a refuge and habitat for many species of fish, is to blame.

Over the years, oceans have become one of the most important research topics for scientists around the world. Ocean temperature is a good way to monitor the rise in global temperature, which is not influenced by short-term weather events.

"The best thermometer we could ever have"

"Oceans are the best thermometer we could ever have," said Zeke Hausfather, one of the study's leaders. But it is not a simple task. Here's proof: the 2014 United Nations report, based on computer algorithms, predicted less warming.

What emerges from the last study is that the near-surface water has warmed the most and the rise in temperature has accelerated in the last twenty years.

Some diplomatic consequences already

As a result, the sea level has risen. For a simple reason: hot water, with dilated molecules, takes up more space than cold water. And, according to the study, this would be the main reason for rising sea levels, to a higher extent than melting ice caps.

Although rising sea levels are a consequence of this ocean warming, we've also observed the migration of fish to seas where they were not present in the past.

"The fish are going to new places and this is already creating conflicts between some countries. It goes well beyond the fish. We are in a trade war, diplomatic wrangling," says Dr. Pinsky to the New York Times. The future doesn't seem so bright...

Take a look at the video above for more on these worrying revelations.

The Earth Is Gradually Swallowing Its Own Oceans The Earth Is Gradually Swallowing Its Own Oceans