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Taking the Oceans' Temperature, Scientists Find Unexpected Heat

Scientists usually measure ocean temperatures using thermometers, but stitching together a global temperature record requires thermometers around the globe. Global…

Scientists usually measure ocean temperatures using thermometers, but stitching together a global temperature record requires thermometers around the globe. Global temperature records were spotty before 2007, when an international consortium began a program, known as Argo, creating an international network of ocean-temperature measuring instruments.

But a group from Scripps Institution of Oceanography had been taking careful measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1991, for unrelated reasons. Dr. Resplandy and her team used that data set for this study.

Dr. Nicholson said the study was an example of how collecting data now can have unexpected benefits later. “19659018].

Scientists know already that the world’s oceans absorb 90.” It’s a good thing about the importance of collecting these long-term time series, even if it is not apparent at the start what the outcome will be. percent of the excess heat captured on Earth by human greenhouse gas emissions. In its recent report, the I.P.C.C. Used one of the lower available estimates of how much the oceans have warmed. Dr. Resplandy and her team found that the upper estimate is more likely what is happening.

“Their estimates overlap with previous estimates, but it is aligned with some of the higher estimates,” Dr. Nicholson said. “There are some caveats.”

“It’s not like completely changing our understanding of what the ocean might be taking up – it’s a new type of measurement that’s weighing toward the higher end of that.” This is a novel approach, and it is unclear if it will hold up to further scrutiny. Kevin E. Trenberth, a senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, noted that the methodology works best over long periods of time but does not detail what happens year to year.

Still, Dr. Trenberth’s own research found that the I.P.C.C.’s measurements for observed ocean heat were too low. “This is a new complementary method, and the results are quite compatible with our estimates for the most part,” he wrote in an email.

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