(CNS): Scientists working in the field of climate change have found that the Earth’s oceans are heating up far more rapidly than predictions made just five years ago. Because the seas absorb most of the heat-trapping gases generated by human activity, the oceans are a better yardstick for climate change than surface temperatures, and researchers have found that the oceans are on average heating up 40% faster than estimates in a 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This means the planet can expect, sooner rather than later, more flooding events, stronger storms and hurricanes and much more coastal erosion.
The findings were published in the journal Science, where the authors said that these increasing temperatures are already contributing to increases in rainfall intensity, rising sea levels, the destruction of coral reefs, declining ocean oxygen levels, and declines in ice sheets, glaciers and ice caps in the polar regions and that the situation is worse than previously thought.
“It’s mainly driven by the accumulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to human activities,” said Lijing Cheng, a lead author of the study from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, according to Reuters. The increasing rate of ocean warming “is simply a signature of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”, Cheng said.
The scientists explained that since the 2013 research results were published, the climate research community has made substantial progress in improving long-term predictions and has identified several sources of uncertainty in prior measurements.
The experts stated that the more accurate results of this recent research “shows that the planet is clearly warming” and “should be of concern given the abundant evidence of effects on storms, hurricanes, and excessive rain”. The scientists also said that there is a clear need to continue to improve the ocean observation and analysis system to provide better estimates to allow for more refined regional projections.
“The need to slow or stop the rates of climate change and prepare for the expected impacts is increasingly evident,” the experts added.
The scientists involved in the study explained that the ocean’s ability to absorb as much heat as it does is saving the land from heating faster than it currently is and saving us from massive warming. But warmer oceans are a major problem, the experts warn. This will negatively impact marine species, kill coral reefs, fuel sea-level rise, and lead to more severe weather events.
Ocean is characterized by its slower and delayed responses to climate change. So even Pairs Agreement target is met, oceans are still warming and the impacts continues. IPCC is assessing ocean and cryosphere now and a special report will be out in late 2019. @valmasdel @IPCC_CH pic.twitter.com/HkrRCylujq
— Lijing Cheng (@Lijing_Cheng) January 12, 2019