Seas Rising and Warming Faster Than Realized

Dot Earth

June 19th, 2008

Andrew C. Revkin

On a very busy climate-oil-politics day I was able to just squeak in a short print piece last night on a new study in the journal Nature clarifying what’s happening with the oceans in a heating world (the heat held in by a building greenhouse blanket has largely accumulated in the oceans and physics demands that it will eventually add to atmospheric warming).

As you may be aware, those rejecting the enormous body of evidence pointing to a growing human influence on climate had embraced some transitory findings implying that the oceans were cooling. This new work may help resolve that particular line of debate. The formula holds: more CO2 = warming world = less ice + higher seas + lots of changing climate patterns.

The study, by Australian and American researchers, reviewed millions of measurements of ocean temperatures taken using a particular instrument on submarines and other vessels over four decades. The researchers found a subtle error that, when fixed, shows that the rate at which seas warmed and rose between 1961 and 2003 was about 50 percent greater than previous estimates.

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