Once again going beyond the horror of America’s one-sided democracy workshop, we are moved by another dire report on our collapsing environment and worsening life situation — one more heads-up to a code-red warning light for a five-alarm fire which already might be unextinguishable.
A note on the subject: ‘About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water.‘
And if those oceans are heating quickly, what’s yonder in store for humanity:
— Adv. Atmos. Sci. (@AASjournal) January 11, 2022
Once again, via the Guardian this morning:
The world’s oceans have been set to simmer, and the heat is being cranked up. Last year saw the hottest ocean temperatures in recorded history, the sixth consecutive year that this record has been broken, according to new research.
The heating up of our oceans is being primarily driven by the human-caused climate crisis, scientists say, and represents a starkly simple indicator of global heating.
While the atmosphere’s temperature is also trending sharply upwards, individual years are less likely to be record-breakers compared with the warming of the oceans.
“The ocean heat content is relentlessly increasing, globally, and this is a primary indicator of human-induced climate change,” said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and co-author of the research, published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
Warmer ocean waters are helping supercharge storms, hurricanes and extreme rainfall, the paper states, which is escalating the risks of severe flooding.
Heated ocean water expands and eats away at the vast Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which are collectively shedding around 1tn tons of ice a year, with both of these processes fueling sea level rise.
Oceans take up about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity, causing them to acidify. This degrades coral reefs, home to a quarter of the world’s marine life and the provider of food for more than 500m people, and can prove harmful to individual species of fish.
As the world warms from the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other activities, the oceans have taken the brunt of the extra heat.
More than 90-percent of the heat generated over the past 50 years has been absorbed by the oceans, temporarily helping spare humanity, and other land-based species, from temperatures that would already be catastrophic.
The amount of heat soaked up by the oceans is enormous. Last year, the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean, where most of the warming occurs, absorbed 14 more zettajoules (a unit of electrical energy equal to one sextillion joules) than it did in 2020.
This amount of extra energy is 145 times greater than the world’s entire electricity generation which, by comparison, is about half of a zettajoule.
“Until we reach net zero emissions, that heating will continue, and we’ll continue to break ocean heat content records, as we did this year,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University and another of the 23 researchers who worked on the paper.
“Better awareness and understanding of the oceans are a basis for the actions to combat climate change.”
Further via The Washington Post, also this morning:
The 2021 record isn’t surprising, said ocean researcher Linda Rasmussen, who was not involved in the study.
Mainly, Rasmussen said, that is because the major driver of ocean warming has not changed.
“The accelerating increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases that is warming the atmosphere continues apace,” Rasmussen wrote in an email.
“Because the ocean still absorbs the vast majority of the excess heat, it would be surprising if the trend didn’t continue.”
Graphics of global warming as ocean warming:
Here we are, yet once again…
(Illustration out front found here).