Climate change deadline gets worse as ocean heat study shares bad news

A new study warns the world's oceans have absorbed far more heat than previously thought. The findings indicate these bodies of water may be more sensitive to pollution than expected, according to researchers, challenging an IPCC climate change assessment figure from 2014. The team used a different technique to measure the amount of heat stored by the oceans.

The study comes out of Princeton University and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; it was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as the Princeton Environmental Institute. During their research, scientists discovered that the Earth's oceans have absorbed 60-percent more heat than past estimates have found.

The study reveals that oceans around the world have absorbed heat energy that is equivalent to 150 times the amount of energy produced by humans every year...and that's only over the past 25 years. Every year from 1991 to 2016, the study states, Earth's oceans absorbed in excess of 13 zettajoules.

The study's first author Laure Resplandy explained:

Imagine if the ocean was only 30 feet deep. Our data show that it would have warmed by 6.5 degrees Celsius [11.7 degrees Fahrenheit] every decade since 1991. In comparison, the estimate of the last IPCC assessment report would correspond to a warming of only 4 degrees Celsius [7.2 degrees Fahrenheit] every decade.

The findings were made possible by a measuring technique that looks at carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air rather than spot temperature measurements taken of the ocean. Warming oceans release both gases into the air, ultimately increasing "atmospheric potential oxygen," also called APO. The study indicates that humans may have less time than previously thought to avoid the 2-degree climate change pivoting point.

SOURCE: Princeton