As much as 93% of the extra heat that is released into the atmosphere due to human activity is absorbed by oceans. This has made oceans warm up at a rate that is about 40% faster than was told in the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of 2013. This has been reported in a study published in the journal, Science.
The Guardian estimated that the heat energy that has been absorbed by the oceans in the last 150 years is roughly equivalent to one atomic bomb explosion per second. This is enough to shock us and feel the emergency of speeding up measures to tackle anthropogenic (due to human activities) global warming.
This study reconciles the analyses of a variety of different scientific teams and comes to the conclusion. It resolves a key uncertainty in the field of climate science. The extra heat that is absorbed from the climate, so far, has been residing in the upper ocean. This heat is only slowly diffusing down into deeper waters.
What is more worrying is the fact that even in a situation where humans cut the emission of greenhouse gases (assuming that becoming a reality), the extra heat trapped in oceans would continue to be released for a very long time. Scientists say this where they consider the ocean as an entity of having long memory.
The imbalance of the energy in earth’s climate system is the main reason of the climate change due to human activities. This is done by the process of rising concentration of heat-trapping gases. The increase in ocean heat content (OHC) is a result of this energy imbalance. The OHC doesn’t vary as rapidly as the surface temperature and thus the OHC becomes a better and reliable indicator of the global warming.
The observations in this study show the trend of consistent changes in OHC since the late 1950s. The warming is larger in the period 1971-2010 than was predicted in the IPCC (AR5) estimation.
The steady rise in OHC clearly shows that the planet is warming. The impact of this warming is far- reaching. The primary effect of this warming can be seen affecting marine biodiversity. The back-to-back coral bleaching events is the direct outcome of the warming of oceans. Coral bleaching is the phenomenon where the corals start expelling algae that live inside their tissues causing the corals turning completely white. Algae is the primary source (almost 90%) of energy of the corals. When bleaching happens, the corals begin to starve.
The warming oceans are also causing the glaciers from Greenland and Antarctica to melt. It is reported that the Greenland ice sheet melting is extraordinary compared with the history of the past 350 years.
Making the storms more vigorous and extreme is an outcome of the warming oceans. Examples are hurricane Harvey and typhoon Mangkhoot. The devastations caused by Harvey by the extraordinary deluge was the cause of warming of the Gulf of Mexico above the average level.