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New Ocean Measurements Are Bad News

Oceans are heating up faster than we knew, scientists say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2019 5:30 PM CST
In this file photo, a boy gathers seawater in a bucket as Haystack Rock looms in the distance in Cannon Beach, Ore.   (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)
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(Newser) – Oceans are heating up about 40% faster than previously measured, scientists say—which only seems to confirm the world's biggest headache. Published Thursday in Science, a review of recent studies says ocean temperatures are more in sync with dire climate model simulations than scientists knew. The new measurements confirm that oceans could warm 1.5 degrees Celsius and rise almost a foot by 2100 from warming alone, with melting ice caps adding more, Scientific American reports. The studies rely on a network of floats measuring ocean temperatures around the world; the so-called Argo network, developed in the early 2000s, is considered better than the old method of ships dropping sensors into the ocean by copper wire, per the New York Times.

A fourth study measures ocean temperatures differently—by looking at oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, per an October Times article—but also concurs with climate models. All told, the review says ocean temperatures have broken records in recent years and increased an average of 500% faster between 1991 and 2010 than between 1971 and 1990, per ABC News Australia. While oceans ease the world's problems by soaking up 93% of heat trapped by greenhouse gases, that heat destroys marine life, worsens hurricanes, and makes oceans rise. "If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans," says co-author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student at UC Berkeley, in a press release. "Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought." (Meanwhile, a teenage climate activist tells leaders they're too immature to act.)

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