A study published on Sunday shows that the upper half-mile of the Southern Hemisphere’s oceans could have warmed twice as fast after 1970 than scientists previously thought, Climate Central reported.
New devices called “Argo floats” used around New Zealand and off the coast of Madagascar are providing data that has historically been difficult to obtain.
“The Argo data is really critical,” said Paul Durack, lead researcher on the study. “The estimates that we had up until now have been pretty systematically underestimating the likely changes.”
Durack worked with other researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist “to compare ocean observation with ocean models.” They found that the upper levels of the oceans had been warming prior to 2005 at rates “that were 24 to 58 percent faster than had been previously realized.”
More than 1,000 studies have been published using the Argo float data, Climate Central reported. This data has helped scientists to understand how oceans are affected by climate in ways that aren’t easy to measure manually.
“An important result of this paper is the demonstration that the oceans have continued to warm over the past decade, at a rate consistent with estimates of Earth’s net energy imbalance,” said Steve Rintoul, a researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia. “While the rate of increase in surface air temperatures slowed in the last 10 to 15 years, the heat stored by the planet, which is heavily dominated by the oceans, has steadily increased as greenhouse gasses have continued to rise.”
As the ocean temperatures, combined with air temperatures, continue to climb, glaciers will continue to melt and sea levels will continue to rise. The rising sea levels will not only affect the species that call the water home, they will start to push people from their homes on the coasts. Drastic measures need to be taken, and fast, before it’s too late.