Monday, October 10, 2016

What You Don't Know Will Hurt You

While much of western society enjoys living in willful ignorance about climate change, the fact is, what you don't know can hurt you. Tim Wallace of the New York Times reports that much of the heat of our rapidly warming world is being absorbed by oceans, and the long-term effects will be devastating.
Ocean temperatures have been consistently rising for at least three decades. Scientists believe that global sea surface temperatures will continue to increase over the next decade as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere.

Last year, nearly all observed ocean surface temperatures registered above average because naturally occurring conditions caused by El Niño combined with human-induced warming. About a quarter of those observations broke record highs.
This excess energy has largely been sucked up by the oceans, which have a huge capacity to store heat. As the oceans store more heat, however, they expand. Scientists have shown that over the past decade, this thermal expansion has caused about one-third of the rise in sea levels.
But what is happening below the surface?
The near-surface ocean takes only decades to warm in response to elevated greenhouse gas concentrations, but the deep ocean will take centuries to millenniums, raising sea level all the while. In the meantime, warmer ocean temperatures may also increase the destructive potential of extreme weather, like cyclones and hurricanes.
Out of sight, out of mind is no longer a viable strategy, as we are now seeing, and far, far worse is yet to come.


  1. Recent studies have shown that absorbed atmospheric heat pumped into the depths of the Pacific has kept atmospheric and surface temperatures lower than carbon loadings would predict. That heat now lurks in the depths but it's now suggested that it won't be permanently sequestered. Indeed there are several hydrologists who warn it's about to be released back to the surface. If so, we're in for a massive, non-linear temperature jolt.

    "Vast and slow to change temperature, the oceans have a huge capacity to sequester heat, especially the deep ocean, which is playing an increasingly large uptake and storage role.

    "That is a major reason the planet’s surface temperatures have risen less than expected in the past dozen or so years, given the large greenhouse gas hike during the same period, said Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The phenomenon, which some call the “hiatus,” has challenged scientists to explain its cause. But new studies indicate that the forces behind the supposed hiatus are natural — and temporary — ocean processes that may already be changing course.

    "Pacific trade winds, for instance, which have been unusually strong for the past two decades thanks to a 20- to 30-year cycle called the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, have been pumping atmospheric heat down into the western Pacific. The winds are powered up by the cycle’s current negative, or cool, phase. But scientists say that when the cycle eventually swings back to its positive, warm phase, which history suggests could occur within a decade, the winds will wind down, the pumping will let up, and buried heat will rise back into the atmosphere."

    1. Thanks, as always, Mound, for your deep research. You are my go-to person for climate change information. It sounds like we are soon to experience what happens when a sleeping giant awakes.

  2. .. I cross posted this link to Mound of Soind ..
    It validates my position that fracking with blow away
    the damage caused by 'our' tsr sands
    and points to the futility of bandaids
    like Carbon Tax & distant emmission reductions

    1. Thanks for the information, Salamander. I'll check out both your link and the Mound's as soon as I return from the dentist.