How to Boil an Ocean: Global Warming Is ‘Breaking Scientists’ Charts’

North Pacific storm waves as seen from the NOAA M/V Noble Star, Winter 1989. (Image Credit: NOAA)

North Pacific storm waves as seen from the NOAA M/V Noble Star, Winter 1989. (Image Credit: NOAA)

Last week, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2014 was officially the hottest year on record. This marked the 14th year of record-breaking heat to occur in the 21st century, but Dr. John Abraham, professor of thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas, says this overlooks a more disturbing statistic: Oceans are warming so quickly that they are “breaking scientists’ charts.”

In a recent article for The Guardian, Dr. Abraham writes,

“We tend to focus on the global temperature average which is the average of air temperatures near the ground (or at the sea surface). This past year, global air temperatures were record-breaking. But that isn’t the same as global warming. Global warming is properly viewed as the amount of heat contained within the Earth’s energy system. So, air temperatures may go up and down on any given year as energy moves to or from the air (primarily from the ocean). What we really want to know is, did the Earth’s energy go up or down? […]

“Well, it turns out that the energy stored within the ocean (which is 90% or more of the total ‘global warming’ heat), increased significantly. A plot from NOAA is shown above. You can see that the last data point (the red curve), is, literally off the chart.”

This data observes heat content for ocean depths between zero and 2,000 meters between 1955 and 2010. NOAA has provided a much more thorough analysis, which can be found here.

Climate change deniers (such as the current head of the Senate’s Environment Committee, Jim Inhofe) argue that global warming has slowed down or even paused since 1998 and that the past 15 years have shown no change in the Earth’s thermal energy. According to Dr. Abraham, this latest ocean warming data “is the clearest nail in that coffin.”

Read the rest at Planet Experts.

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