Man-made heat energy absorbed by oceans has doubled since 1997: study

WASHINGTON -- The amount of man-made heat energy absorbed by the seas has doubled since 1997, a study released Monday showed.

See Full Article

Scientists have long known that more than 90 per cent of the heat energy from man-made global warming goes into the world's oceans instead of the ground. And they've seen ocean heat content rise in recent years. But the new study, using ocean-observing data that goes back to the British research ship Challenger in the 1870s and including high-tech modern underwater monitors and computer models, tracked how much man-made heat has been buried in the oceans in the past 150 years.

The world's oceans absorbed approximately 150 zettajoules of energy from 1865 to 1997, and then absorbed about another 150 in the next 18 years, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

To put that in perspective, if you exploded one atomic bomb the size of the one that dropped on Hiroshima every second for a year, the total energy released would be 2 zettajoules. So since 1997, Earth's oceans have absorbed man-made heat energy equivalent to a Hiroshima-style bomb being exploded every second for 75 straight years.

"The changes we're talking about, they are really, really big numbers," said study co-author Paul Durack, an oceanographer at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California. "They are nonhuman numbers."

Because there are decades when good data wasn't available and computer simulations are involved, the overall figures are rough but still are reliable, the study's authors said. Most of the added heat has been trapped in the upper 2,300 feet, but with every year the deeper oceans also are absorbing more energy, they said.

But the study's authors and outside experts say it's not the raw numbers that bother them. It's how fast those numbers are increasing.

"After 2000 in particular the rate of change is really starting to ramp up," Durack said.

This means the amount of energy being trapped in Earth's climate system as a whole is accelerating, the study's lead author Peter Gleckler, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore, said.

Because the oceans are so vast and cold, the absorbed heat raises temperatures by only a few tenths of a degree, but the importance is the energy balance, Gleckler and his colleagues said. When oceans absorb all that heat it keeps the surface from getting even warmer from the heat-trapping gases spewed by the burning of coal, oil and gas, the scientists said.

The warmer the oceans get, the less heat they can absorb and the more heat stays in the air and on land surface, the study's co-author, Chris Forest at Pennsylvania State University, said.

"These finding have potentially serious consequences for life in the oceans as well as for patterns of ocean circulation, storm tracks and storm intensity," said Oregon State University marine sciences professor Jane Lubchenco, the former chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

One outside scientist, Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, also has been looking at ocean heat content and he said his ongoing work shows the Gleckler team "significantly underestimates" how much heat the ocean has absorbed.

Jeff Severinghaus at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography praised the study, saying it "provides real, hard evidence that humans are dramatically heating the planet."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Jet lag can adversely affect Major League Baseball players: study

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new study has found the jet lag that goes with a grinding schedule of Major League Baseball games that takes players from coast to coast and back again can take its toll on performance. Source
  • Paris tests electric driverless minibus to fight air pollution

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PARIS -- In a city hit by chronic pollution and traffic problems, Paris officials are experimenting with a self-driving shuttle linking two train stations in the French capital. Two electric-power EZ10 minibuses, which can carry up to six seated passengers, were put into service Monday and will be tested until early April between the Lyon and Austerlitz stations in Paris. Source
  • Researchers unearth fossils of giant otter in China

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Scientists have unearthed fossils of an intriguingly large otter as big as a wolf that frolicked in rivers and lakes in a lush, warm and humid wetlands region in southwestern China about 6.2 million years ago. Source
  • Xiaomi's Hugo Barra quits China for Silicon Valley

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Hugo Barra, who caused a sensation in 2013 by leaving Google to become a vice president of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, announced Monday he was returning to the United States for health reasons. Barra, under whom Xiaomi was for a time China's best-selling brand, described his experience as a "spectacular" journey but said it was time to return home for a "new adventure". Source
  • U.S. states uncertain what Trump victory means for wind and solar power

    Tech & Science CBC News
    President Donald Trump has disputed climate change, pledged a revival of coal and disparaged wind power, and his nominee to head the Energy Department was once highly skeptical of the agency's value. What this means for states' efforts to promote renewable energy is an open question. Source
  • N.S. wildlife park fundraising to save 'Little Bear' from euthanasia

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A wildlife park in Cape Breton, N.S., is appealing for donations to build a new cage for an orphaned black bear cub in their care. The nearly one-year-old black bear, dubbed “Little Bear,” was found wandering alone by a pair of men on a highway near Whycocomagh, N.S. Source
  • China's online population reaches 731 million

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The number of internet users in China -- already the world's highest -- reached 731 million in December, authorities said, as e-commerce drives consumer demand across the Asian giant. Total internet users rose 6.2 per cent from the end of December 2015 and equals the entire population of Europe, the government-linked China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said in a statement Sunday on its website. Source
  • Samsung: Batteries only problem with fire-prone Note 7s

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Samsung Electronics Co. said Monday that problems with the design and manufacturing of batteries in its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones caused them to overheat and burst into fire. The announcement of results from the company’s investigation into one of its worst product fiascos comes three months after the flagship phone was discontinued. Source
  • Ribbon may have finally run out for India's typewriters

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW DELHI -- The end is coming, though admittedly it may not look that way at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, when dozens of young Indians have arrived for morning classes at Anand Type, Shorthand and Keypunch College, and every battered Remington is clattering away. Source
  • China cracks down on VPN devices used to access blocked sites

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- A Chinese technology regulator has announced a 14-month campaign to root out services that allow people in the country to circumvent the government's internet censorship. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says it forbids the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) or leased lines that allow users and businesses to access blocked overseas websites without permission. Source