‘Missing’ heat of global warming ‘found’ in the deep ocean

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Total ocean heat content shown in violet, while grey shows 0 to 300 meters and blue shows 300 to 700 meters. Vertical colored bars show volcanic eruptions that cooled the Earth for a short period and the 1997-98 El Nino event. Chart from Balmaseda et al.

We are reminded here of the second of Ernest Callenbach’s ‘Four Laws of Ecology,’ namely that “Everything goes somewhere.”

There is no polluting our environment –whether with atoms or heat– without that pollution having some effect on the environment as a whole. In this case heat we had predicted but had been unable to account for –the absence of which provided momentary cover for climate change deniers– has been shown not to have ‘magically disappeared’ as deniers may have hoped but rather to have been displacing cold water in the deep ocean.

“Increasingly in the past decade, more of that heat has been dumped at levels below 700 meters, where most previous analyses stop. About 30 percent has gone below 700 meters in depth,” explains co-author Kevin Trenberth with the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. “This is fairly new, it is not there throughout the record.”

Scientists have long known that around 90 percent of the heat from climate change ends up in the oceans and they suspected that this was where the ‘missing heat’ would be found. The study find that climate change has revved up worldwide, instead of stopping.

“This signals the beginning of the most sustained warming trend in this record of [ocean heat content],” the scientists write in the paper. “Indeed, recent warming rates of the waters below 700 meters appear to be unprecedented.”

Read more here.

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