20 May 2010:
‘Significant’ Warming Has Occurred
In World’s Oceans, Study Says
The upper layer of the world’s oceans has warmed significantly since 1993
, a strong indicator of how the planet is heating up, according to a new study of the heat contained in the seas. After analyzing numerous estimates of heat in the upper ocean — from the surface to a depth of about 2,000 feet — the researchers found that the seas absorbed about 0.6 watts of energy per square meter from 1993 to 2008 — enough stored energy to power 500 100-watt light bulbs for each of the planet’s 6.7 billion people. Recent temperature data was collected with 3,200 robot floats spread around the world’s oceans, while earlier data was recorded with bathythermographcs, or XBT probes, which were dropped from ships to measure water temperature. “We’re seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research and lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature
. In fact, as the largest sink for solar heat in the Earth’s climate system, the researchers estimate that about 80 to 90 percent of the increased heat ends up in the oceans. Since seawater expands as it is heated, the researchers say the warming ocean temperatures likely account for about one-third to one-half of global sea rise.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.