About 93% of the
heat of global warming has ended up in the ocean per Figure 1 to the right.
On average 80%
of this heat exists above the 750 meter depth per Figure 2.
In a recent
Nature interview James Lovelock, father of the Gaia hypothesis, was asked
“Is climate change going to be less extreme than you previously thought?”
we were all so
taken in by the perfect correlation between temperature and CO2 in the
ice-core analyses [from the ice-sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, studied
since the 1980s]. You could draw a straight line relating temperature and CO2,
and it was such a temptation for everyone to say, “Well, with CO2 rising we
can say in such and such a year it will be this hot.” It was a mistake we all
have forgotten that the system has a lot of inertia and we’re not going to
shift it very quickly. The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of
the ocean — it’s a thousand times greater than the atmosphere and the surface.
You can’t change that very rapidly.
Rutgers University points out that the heat storage capacity of the oceans
is far greater than previously expected. “We may have underestimated the
efficiency of the oceans as a storehouse for heat and energy. It may buy us some
time - how much time, I don’t really know. But it’s not going to stop climate
change,” he says.
In spite of all
the heat that has gone into the ocean, S. Levitus et al. in a paper,
heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0–2000 m), 1955–2010
estimates that over the 55 year life of the study the temperature of the upper
2000 meters of the ocean only increased by 0.09oC.
To highlight how
much this heat actual is however, the paper suggests that if all of that heat
was instantly transferred to the lower 10 km of the global atmosphere it would
result in a volume mean warming of that layer by approximately 36oC.
depth of the ocean is about 4,267 meters so it has even more capacity to absorb
heat with minimal impact on water temperature..
Even though the oceans are
protecting us from the worst of global warming, the heat they have absorbed has
consequences as discussed in the folllowing links
[ Sea Level ] [ Marine Life ] [ Storms ]
These consequences of global warming
are addressed with energy production that moves the heat accumulating neat the
ocean surface to deeper water, a virtually benign location.