World’s Oceans Storing Staggering Amounts of Heat

More bad (bad, very bad – extinction level bad) news for the world’s life forms: Oceans storing up staggering amounts of heat: ‘the memory of all of the past climate change’

A new study , out Friday in the journal Science Advances, suggests that since 1960, a staggering 337 zetajoules of energy – that’s 337 followed by 21 zeros – have been added to the ocean in the form of heat. And most of it has occurred since 1980.

This amount of energy is hard to fathom. Here’s the figure in joules: 337,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

I honestly don’t know how to describe this amount of energy in the form of heat now stored in the world’s oceans. Here is the original paper.

Here’s why I think this is very, very bad: there is simply no way humans can remove this energy imbalance on a practical time scale meaningful to the human race. It is also a figure that will continue to go up, not down for the indefinite future and undoubtedly helps account for the vast migration of species and die-offs that have been recorded around the world (oxygen depletion is another topic that would also apply).




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4 thoughts on “World’s Oceans Storing Staggering Amounts of Heat

  • March 11, 2017 at 8:31 am

    There are many important points of discussion.

    1. A Joule is a miniscule amount of energy, so for most practical purposes we end up using kilojoules or megajoules, e.g an active person will require about 10,000 kilojoules of food energy every day to remain alive. Nevertheless, the energy INCREASE of the oceans in recent times is humungous.

    2. The oceans are humungous compared to everything else on this planet. so the rate of temperature increase is very slow in human terms Nevertheless, the rate of disturbance of thermal equilibrium is staggering in geological terms.

    3. There is much confusion and misinformation relating to ‘average’ temperature, and I had arguments with people like Guy McPherson over ‘rapidly rising average temperatures. Land surface and lower atmosphere temperatures can swing wildly, and an ‘average’ temperature that does not include the deep oceans is not an average temperature.

    4. Most extant marine species have evolved for world that was characterized by periodic ice ages. Corals, at the base many oceanic food chains, are particularly sensitive to temperature.

    5. Higher ocean temperatures lead to undercutting of ice sheets, resulting in their ‘faster than expected’ breaking up.

    6. Above 4 degrees Celsius, increases in temperature cause thermal expansion of water, which must be expected to add substantially to adding to the sea level rise that will come as a consequence of ice on land masses melting and ending up in the oceans.

    7. Higher ocean temperatures result in a higher water vapour pressure which in turn leads to greater evaporation and subsequent shedding of water vapour in the form of torrential rain or snow.

    The northern regions of NZ have been ‘hammered’ by rain (one of the reasons I did not relocate northwards when I fled Auckland a decade ago in recognition that ‘the authorities’ were going to do absolutely nothing about the triple tsunami of peak oil, financial unsustainability and climate change).

    ‘Heavy rain has again hit parts of the North Island and Nelson overnight and this morning, cutting off parts of the Coromandel.

    Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, and Northwest Nelson all had a severe weather warning in place. MetService said the Coromandel bore the brunt, with about 130mm falling in 24 hours, most of that overnight. The poor weather overnight also included a downpour in Auckland between 5pm and 6pm that was tied for the area’s wettest since records began in 1965. Kaitaia had a record rainfall, receiving 44.6mm between 3am and 4am according to NIWA, with hourly records beginning there in 1962. MetService said about 100mm fell there over 24 hours.’

    My rain gauge had 24 mm in it yesterday (the most I have recorded in a day was about 55 mm). And this morning it is raining. More rain is forecast.

    • March 11, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      This would seem to be the new normal. With natural sources now increasing their own emissions, I’ll bet that it will never slow down for about thousand years or so.

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