Annals of Global Warming: NOAA team finds oceans heated up since 1993


News from NOAA and NASA:

The upper layer of the world’s ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet.

“We are seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.

John Lyman and Gregory Johnson show instruments used to measure ocean temperature - NOAA photo, 2010

From NOAA: John Lyman (left) holds an expendable bathythermograph or XBT, a device that was dropped from ships to obtain temperature. Gregory Johnson (right) holds an ARGO Float, an autonomous, free-floating ocean device that collects a variety of data, including temperature. (NOAA photo, 2010)

The team combined the estimates to assess the size and certainty of growing heat storage in the ocean. Their findings will be published in the May 20 edition of the journal Nature. The scientists are from NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom, the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan.

“The ocean is the biggest reservoir for heat in the climate system,” said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the scientists who contributed to the study. “So as the planet warms, we’re finding that 80 to 90 percent of the increased heat ends up in the ocean.”

A warming ocean is a direct cause of global sea level rise, since seawater expands and takes up more space as it heats up. The scientists say that this expansion accounts for about one-third to one-half of global sea level rise.

Combining multiple estimates of heat in the upper ocean – from the surface to about 2,000 feet down – the team found a strong multi-year warming trend throughout the world’s ocean. According to measurements by an array of autonomous free-floating ocean floats called ARGO as well as by earlier devices called expendable bathythermographs or XBTs that were dropped from ships to obtain temperature data, ocean heat content has increased over the last 16 years.

The team notes that there are still some uncertainties and some biases.

“The XBT data give us vital information about past changes in the ocean, but they are not as accurate as the more recent Argo data,” said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. “However, our analysis of these data gives us confidence that on average, the ocean has warmed over the past decade and a half, signaling a climate imbalance.”

Data from the array of Argo floats­ – deployed by NOAA and other U.S. and international partners ­– greatly reduce the uncertainties in estimates of ocean heat content over the past several years, the team said. There are now more than 3,200 Argo floats distributed throughout the world’s ocean sending back information via satellite on temperature, salinity, currents and other ocean properties.

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Note: Full name of the paper is Robust Warming of the Global Upper Ocean. Authors are John M. Lyman, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Hawaii at Manoa and NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle; Simon A. Good, Met Office Hadley Centre; Viktor V. Gouretski Klima Campus, University of Hamburg; Masayoshi Ishii, Climate Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, Japan; Gregory C. Johnson, NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle; Matthew D. Palmer, Met Office Hadley Centre; Doug M. Smith, Met Office Hadley Centre; and Josh K. Willis, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Map showing 3,200 free-floating Argo floats, instruments used to measure ocean temperature - International Argo Project

From NASA: The international science team analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean, based on ocean temperature data from a global array of more than 3,200 Argo free-floating profiling floats and longer data records from expendable bathythermographs dropped from ships. Image credit: International Argo Project

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Update, February 16, 2011: Interesting that this research got so little play in mainstream media, more curious that those who contend global warming and/or the need to do anything about it have buried it so well.  RealClimate noted that denialist Larry Bell, writing in Forbes, even cited the work of this team, but claiming a contrary resultEven Watts Up appears to have gone silent on this after a curtain-raiser post on the project.  Odd.

6 Responses to Annals of Global Warming: NOAA team finds oceans heated up since 1993

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    The whole ocean is heating, Roger. Basic physics, not magic.

    Like

  2. rogerthesurf says:

    No,

    You said the upper layer is heating up, I want to know about the whole of the ocean.

    Cheers

    Roger

    Like

  3. […] Yes, the upper layer of the oceans really are heating up. News from NOAA and NASA: The upper layer of the world’s ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating […]

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    First Roger claims the oceans are cooling. When presented with information that directly and completely refutes his claim, he retreats to “maybe something else is happening away from the 3,255 different spots that are being measured.”

    Got evidence, Roger? The first requirement for science is data; the first requirement to testify at a trial is to have relevant information. You have none.

    Like

  5. rogerthesurf says:

    “NOAA team finds oceans heated up since 1993”

    Sounds serious for sure!

    “The UPPER LAYER of the world’s ocean has warmed since 1993”.

    You are sure one for misleading statements!

    How much of the ocean is “upper layer” and what about the rest of the ocean?

    Ever occur to you that the rest might be relevant as well?

    Cheers

    Roger

    Like

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