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article imageOceans are warming so rapidly they are breaking scientific charts

By Megan Hamilton     Jan 24, 2015 in Environment
Earlier this month the NOAA and NASA announced that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded, shattering the previous records in 2005 and 2010.
Now comes the news that global warming is heating the world's oceans at an unprecedented pace.
There hasn't been a hiatus, slight pause or even a slowdown in any way of surface temperature warming, Think Progress reports. Most human-caused global warming heat winds up in the oceans, and this has prompted warming to accelerate in recent years.
And ocean temperatures are warming so fast that they keep breaking scientists' charts, Dr. John Abraham, a professor of thermal sciences wrote in The Guardian, Think Progress reports.
This chart shows ocean heat content data to a depth of 2 000 meters  from NOAA.
This chart shows ocean heat content data to a depth of 2,000 meters, from NOAA.
More than 90 percent of the planetary warming that's human-made goes into the oceans, but only two percent winds up in the atmosphere, and this means that small changes in ocean uptake can hugely impact ocean surface temperatures. This is one big reason why surface temperatures haven't appeared to warm as quickly as many people had expected in the past decade; even so, ocean warming has sped up, and sea levels are rising far faster than expected. Also Arctic sea ice has melted much faster than the scientific models expected, along with the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
Alexander writes in The Guardian that warming is occurring so rapidly that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has had to remake its graphs.
He notes that we often focus on the global temperature average, which is actually the average of air temperatures near ground level or at the sea surface, and yes, he adds that this past year global air temperatures broke records. However, this isn't the same as global warming. When viewed properly, global warming is the amount of heat contained within Earth's energy system. Alexander adds that air temperatures "may go up and down on any given year as energy moves to or from the air (primarily from the ocean)."
The media, Think Progress notes, needs to get the collective mote out of its eyes. By merely focusing on the hottest year on record, it keeps missing the real story that springs from scientific data and analysis. The human-caused uptick in surface air temperatures never paused ... never ... even ... slowed significantly. And this will likely precipitate a period of rapid surface temperature warming.
Dr. Gavin Schmidt is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies. Last week he tweeted: "Is there evidence that there is a significant change of trend from 1998? (Spoiler: No.)" He attached the following chart, which shows the latest data compiled by NASA, Think Progress notes. It doesn't paint a pretty picture.
The media needs to stop repeating the myth that there's been a hiatus or even a slowdown in global warming once and for all, Think Progress notes.
Otherwise, the next big story could very well be that surface warming starts accelerating soon. The lead author of one 2014 story said this:
"Scientists have long suspected that extra ocean heat uptake has slowed the rise of global average temperatures, but the mechanism behind the hiatus remained unclear ... But the heat uptake is by no means permanent: when the trade wind strength returns to normal –- as it inevitably will –- our research suggests heat will quickly accumulate in the atmosphere. So global [surface] temperatures look set to rise rapidly ..."
Combining this with the current record ocean temperatures, along with faster than expected warming of the ocean's surface layer, means that we can expect a continuation of the unprecedentedly rapid loss of Arctic sea ice and land-locked ice in Greenland and Antarctica, per Think Progress. This also means a likelihood of even more record-breaking weather extremes than we've seen in recent years, especially since humans have not stopped their climate-changing bad habits.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists pushed humanity's metaphorical doomsday clock up to three minutes to midnight –- largely because of the extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change and warming oceans, The Weather Network reports.
"This is about doomsday; this is about the end of civilization as we know it," bulletin executive director Kennette Benedict told reporters. "The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon."
All this time we have been sleeping. It's time to wake up because our bed is burning.
More about oceans are warming so fast, Oceans, breaking scientific charts, science charts, surface temperature warming
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