Study: Rate of Heat Absorption Of Oceans Has Doubled Since 1997

earth-screensaver_largeWe have another study indicating the rapidly worsening situation due to global climate change. A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that the amount of man-made heat energy absorbed by the seas has doubled since 1997. That absorption is much higher than anticipated and portends greater threats to ocean life as well as the continuing worsening of intense storms.

More than 90 percent of the heat energy from man-made global warming goes into the world’s oceans instead of the ground. However, this study used data going back to the British research ship Challenger in the 1870s to track the rate of absorption and rise in temperatures. The results are very alarming. According to the report, the world’s oceans absorbed approximately 150 zettajoules of energy from 1865 to 1997, and then absorbed about another 150 in the next 18 years. To get an idea of the energy level: “if you exploded one atomic bomb the size of the one that dropped on Hiroshima every second for a year, the total energy released would be 2 zettajoules.” Thus, since 1997, Earth’s oceans have absorbed man-made heat energy equivalent to a Hiroshima-style bomb being exploded every second for 75 straight years.

The most alarming aspect is the exponential growth element. The pace of warming is speeding up. Even small increases in the ocean temperature can have massive impacts on ocean life and storms. Moreover, as the oceans warm, they absorb less . . . which means that heat stays in the air and on land surface.

The illustration below shows the increasingly hot areas in red as tracked through the years:


77 thoughts on “Study: Rate of Heat Absorption Of Oceans Has Doubled Since 1997

  1. I agree with PhillyT.
    Bad drinking water issues are coming to the fore. That problem in Flint, MI is really bad.
    One thing which you all will have to accept and that is that dogs have to poop somewhere and do not have toilets. If we purposely poop in some dork’s yard it is to make a statement. We are prudent otherwise but sometimes we are confined to a yard or whatnot. So bear with us.

  2. PhillyT and Karen

    The most astounding part of resistance to evolving from fossil fuels, pollutants, and all the other ways mankind has and continues to be destroying the planet is that cleaning up the mess and developing clean energy is the next big economy that will generate fortunes for all the future Koch bros and Gates, etc. A healthy economy is one where money is moving. When money moves jobs are created and people get rich. The dispersal of the costs would not be felt in the increase in prices for any of the poisons we produce.

    Waste management is already a trillion dollar industry. The infrastructure is there with models created by societies that can’t simply toss the garbage to the side. There are floating islands the size of Texas composed of garbage in the Pacific and other oceans. Out of sight, out of mind, until you eat the twisted fish that have morphed out of the plastic.

    The fact that the tech economy is built on the manufacture and consumption of stuff that is at least 50% unnecessary, only for amusement, and yet it all creates jobs, wealth, by moving money should be enough to convince anyone that by charging for the garbage we create we could develop an industry to address it, either by reducing it and/or removing it. The only thing in the way of a better and cleaner planet regardless of the socialist/capitalist mix is complacency, ignorance, and the status quo. I would have no problem with the corruption that exists in today’s industries that pollute if they existed in industries that addressed the pollution. Ten percent more would have little if any negative effect on anyone. Regarding gas alone, the money would be there to repair the infrastructure and fund clean energy for transportation.

    There is big money to be made. Isn’t that reason enough?

  3. David,

    I couldn’t agree more. Isaac’s diatribe about the ozone “hole” is case in point. The ozone debate is still quite alive with many holes (pun intended) in the hypothesis. I will give the tree huger’s credit though, they sure have a great marketing dept. “Ozone Hole” and “Global Warming” conjure up such great fear when spoken. And just like Silent Spring”, when the truth finally does come out, the tree huger’s lies have already done their damage.

    I do have a question for all of the Isaac’s out there. What is the average climate for the area that you live?

    Interesting article and good comments.

    “Clyde Spencer October 27, 2015 at 7:15 pm
    Some other things to consider: Most ozone is produced in the tropics and moves pole-wards. When the southerly ozone encounters the Winter Antarctic vortex, it is prevented from reaching the South Pole until the vortex breaks up in the Spring. Thus, an anomalous ozone-high is produced outside the vortex, which quickly moves into the so-called ‘hole’ once the vortex breaks up. The ozone that is catalytically destroyed when the sun first illuminates the ozone layer in early Spring cannot be replaced by the tropical ozone until the vortex breaks up. Additionally, when the ‘hole’ is at its greatest extent, the sun is low on the horizon and the rays have a long path length, initially entering the stratosphere outside the ‘hole.’ The sun never gets directly above the ‘hole!’ Also, the footprint of UV rays on the ground is large because of the high angle of incidence. (i.e. the sunlight is ‘weak.’)

    Because I always read about the potential for damage from UV, but never saw any data on ground-level UV (Does this sound familiar?), I created a spreadsheet to estimate the UV flux based on data from the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer and taking into account all the astronomical parameters as in your diagram. What I discovered was that there appeared to be a drift upward in the Winter values, when the UV flux was quite low. However, when protection was most needed, in the Summer, there seemed to be no change in the maximum values of UV, values which the ecosystem had evolved to deal with.”

  4. Jim22

    If, indeed, all those who make up 90+% of the world’s scientists are wrong and you and your spreadsheets have the answer, have debunked it all, eureka, etc., that does nothing to weaken my argument. The economy would be enhanced, great wealth would be created and redistributed, and perhaps just in case you are talking out of the other end, we might be doing some good. Otherwise, I guess you are right and 90+% of the world’s scientists are wrong. I hear Jim Inhofe is looking for reputable scientists. Give him a call. Take a glass of water and a tray of ice cubes with you.

  5. Isaac,

    You never answered my question. What is the average climate supposed to be where you live?

    Also, explain to me your obsession with Inhofe, ice and water? If proof is needed that ice displaces it’s mass in water so when melted it doesn’t raise the water level, well, that’s pretty easy to prove and well understood.

    I would discredit at least half of your supposed 90% for being on the government dole somehow just like you would never accept a scientist from energy industry, unless he agreed with you. To me, true science is dead.

  6. Global Warmists are the new Malthusians with their Chicken Little forecasts. If and when Global Warming occurs, it is actually predicted to bring increased crop productivity to most of the northern hemisphere, increasing capacity in the most productive food producing regions on Earth.

    Of course we ALL want cleaner air and water … and we’re getting it. The quality of both is far improved over the last few decades, and the number of trees in the US has risen steadily since the 70s.

    And Isaac obliviously storms on with the discredited “90%” blather. Sigh.

  7. Jim22

    In the 11 years we have been in North East Florida our winter has gone from three+ months using the heat to three+ weeks. My intimate understanding with the North West of the US and the South West of Canada illustrates similar ‘warming’. I grew up in the Canadian Maritime provinces and as I understand by reading he papers, their summers are getting longer and their winters are getting shorter.

    This, however, is not my point. If you have read carefully, my point is that reducing and stopping pollution, evolving from fossil fuels to renewables, etc cannot hurt the planet and IF indeed we are contributing to Global Warming, if indeed there is Global Warming, doing so would be the right thing to do. So, whether it is needed to Save the Planet or not it is a good thing economically to create and redistribute wealth, what it is all about.

    Now, to respond to the ice cube in the glass of water thing; I almost would like to let it ride and imagine a light bulb over your head coming on, some day, or perhaps not. However, Inhofe is an idiot as he has proven on a regular basis. This is not unusual as lots of idiots are regularly elected, Bush a case in point. What Inhofe is doing with such panache and authority when he places an ice cube in a glass of water and performs his second grade science experiment has nothing to do with the rise in sea level from melting ice. It is a similar sideshow to his bringing a snowball indoors. Anyone convinced that there is no global warming from witnessing these maneuvers is a dupe.

    The vast amounts of ice on the planet that are melting, this is factual, are to be found over the ground, above sea level, where they are a result of precipitation, evaporating from the planet’s oceans and lakes, and being frozen as glaciers and other ice formations miles and miles and miles thick, over many years. When this ice melts, due to global warming regardless of the cause, the melted water returns to the oceans and lakes and their levels rise. The North and South polar ice caps are melting at an increasing rate and factoring in the application of the ‘tipping point’, their melting could increase at a rate that could, some day, be irreversible. The Planets’s Oceans could rise several meters. This would spell disaster to billions.

    The issue of the tipping point is also one that is not surfaced regularly enough. The vast amounts of dead stuff resulting from life in the oceans typically falls to the deepest places and turns into methane gas. The cold water keeps the methane gas way down, miles and miles at the bottom. As the oceans heat up, there will come a time when the gas will rise into the atmosphere where it will exponentially exacerbate the situation. This is also true with the vast amounts of potential methane gas-from rotting flora-found in the ‘tundra areas’. Who knows it may already be too late and the argument may only be between people living in the foothills of mountain ranges and the vast majority of the world’s population that live ‘next the sea’.

    I don’t know with whom to be disappointed, me for allowing myself to the drawn into explaining this obvious fact, or you who asked for this explanation. Either way, it’s, as our leading carnival barker often exclaims, sad, so sad.

  8. Isaac,

    “The North and South polar ice caps are melting at an increasing rate and factoring in the application of the ‘tipping point’, their melting could increase at a rate that could, some day, be irreversible. The Planets’s Oceans could rise several meters.”

    Being that I graduated with a B.S. in Geology, I’m curious, what land mass does the northern ice cap rest on?

    So in a nut shell, your point is, some claim should be able to be made, factual or not, and whole industries/economies should have to take the risk of collapse based on this claim. It amazes me that you are surprise that there would be push back on such a philosophy.

    I will ask yet again, what is the average climate for northern FL?

  9. Jim22

    The Southern land mass is Antarctica, well documented in many Sci-fi movies and available to google. The Northern land masses are composed of Greenland, Baffin Island, etc. Greenland is the second largest ice cap after Antarctica. If you took any other classes the land masses that lie under the glaciers are all there, trust me. The predominant ice cap does consist of an area on the Arctic ocean, however, the ice that, when it melts as it is melting, will cause the oceans to rise is the ice on the land masses. I have not read any reports by geologists or geographers that argue the fact that if that ice melts it will not cause the ocean levels to rise.

    All this is nothing more than 90+% of the world’s scientists saying what I am saying and less than 10% of the world’s scientists disagreeing. Pick your side. That is not my point. My point is that throughout history mankind has advanced through innovation and revolution, economic, industrial, technological, religious, social, etc. Its all there in the history books. Changing from fossil fuels to renewables, arresting the pollution of the earth, and cleaning up the mess is a revolution that will benefit mankind in every way, except of course as pertains to those with their heads buried in the sand. It’s the old status quo problem and idiots like Inhofe are, unfortunately, the status quo.

    Regarding the history of temperature change in my part of the world, look it up.

  10. PhillyT:

    “Even if it turns out that climate change is over-hyped, or under-studied, or incorrectly analyzed (none of which I personally believe), what is it exactly that we have to lose by cleaning up our act? Can anyone explain that to me? What is wrong with having drinkable water, breathable air, beauty in nature, a livable planet? I just don’t get it.”

    I’m an ACC agnostic. There is little that offends me more than being lied to. Once I discovered vanishing stations, missing raw data, etc, I felt that politics and greed had essentially ruined science. It made me mistrustful, and that’s a shame. I just withhold an opinion on whether climate change is anthropogenic because I’ve been burned. It may or may not be anthropogenic.

    What especially frustrates me is that we divert most of our energy and resources into ACC. We hyper focus on carbon while ignoring clear and present dangers like mercury contamination of ground water, air pollution, and especially de-vegetation.

    Mankind can definitely alter microclimates, and even vast geographic areas. Lebanon used to be famed for cedar forests until we chopped them all down to make ship masts. Now its desert. Goat grazing also desertified vast areas of the ME. Chopping down fire wood changed ecology – those forests were vital to maintaining moisture levels, soil retention, and preventing runoff. CA also has seen a change in ecology. There is almost zero runoff from natural chaparral slopes. When I read that I went out in a rainstorm and stood beneath one of our hills I kept natural. No runoff, and I stood at the bottom. Meanwhile, the dirt road next to us caused sheet flooding, gouging out trenches. We remove native chaparral that holds onto rain like a miser does his last gold coin. And we replace it with hardscape, alien grasses, or we just weed back the whole thing for weed abatement during fire season and denude it. More water pours off as runoff than it ever did before European colonization. There has been all this furor over saving the Delta smelt. I have to wonder if the Delta smelt existed there historically. We dumped millions of gallons of fresh water, as precious as diamonds, into the Delta to try to save this fish, but did we ever ascertain if it existed there because of unnatural runoff in the first place? Is the smelt a keystone species, like krill – whose absence would cause the collapse of entire food chains? Or was the little smelt an opportunist that took advantage of mankind altering the ecology? I actually do not know. It’s a moot point, however, as the latest survey found something like 7 smelt. We pollute groundwater with mercury and other contaminants. We remove the vegetation that would remove carbon, clean and moisturize the air, and produce oxygen.

    We do all of these things that could be improved. We could see immediate benefit if we invested in changes now. But Anthropogenic Climate Change has all the sex appeal. Politicians get to mock critics. Grants flow like water. We use it as a basis to impose taxes, fines, and fees. All that torrent of money flows to ACC, and we bypass other worthy causes that could improve our health today.

    Whether ACC is true or not, the health of our planet and all the creatures that live on it would improve if we cleaned up our mercury contamination and other pollutants, increased native plant landscaping, decreased the use of pesticide and herbicide, and improved urban planning. We could increase our water resources in drought states like CA by helping replenish underground aquifers through curtailing runoff.

    That is my issue. ACC uses up the lion’s share of our time, energy, and resources, which could benefit many worthy environmental or conservation issues. It is not balanced.

    What is also important is to accept that, regardless of the anthropogenic possibility, climate change is the normal state of affairs on our planet. Look at ancient coastlines far up the shore. That was normal, and Global Cooling was the catastrophe of those times. I assume that the Earth will either get cooler or warmer. We must adapt or perish. Because the Earth will go on without us.

  11. Isaac:

    Believe me, I look forward to the day that we no longer need fossil fuels. By definition, they are finite. They fund terrorist countries. They are relatively dirty. They pollute.

    Most people agree with this.

    Here is where the problem lies – we must be ready to replace such fuels with clean, green, renewables that are also cost effective. It does no one any good if it costs so much to heat your house in winter that you go chop down trees. Sadly, wood burning stoves and furnaces are becoming more popular now. Ads claim you can cut your energy costs. It’s already happening. Edison just announced that it would be increasing rates yet again because it is increasing its green energy portfolio.

    It is a net negative if people burn more wood to heat their homes.

    People focus on how wonderful it will be when we no longer use fossil fuels, and forget about the logistics. There is the feeling of why aren’t we just doing this right now? What’s the hold up?

    The hold up is:
    1) Right now alternative energy is far more expensive than fossil fuels. We need to bring that cost down without subsidies. The energy is costly both for individual home producers as well as energy grid. I looked at a house that had wind turbines (annoying!!!) and the cost for basic maintenance and repair were outrageous.
    2) Beta technology. Right now wind farms chop the air (it is SO ANNOYING. I’ve been around private wind turbines and farms, and I cannot stand that chopping sound and feeling on our ear drums. Awful. My horse hates it too.) That chases away wildlife. It also chops up birds at a truly alarming rate. The white color attracts insects at night, which attracts bats, who get blended. Unbelievably, here in CA, they approve wind farms in migratory waterfowl corridors, and in endangered CA Condor habitat. They need to have Dyson re-design them so they are quiet and harmless to birds and bats. Solar Power farms also literally fry wildlife and require re-design. Solar cells are made in China and produce quite a few toxic pollutants (like my nemesis mercury) in its production. We feel superior for being cleaner than China, installing our solar panels, but we contribute to her pollution.
    3) Infrastructure. We do not presently have the infrastructure to meet all of our energy needs. The country would go dark if we shut off fossil fuels right this exact second. So we’re not quite there yet.
    4) The grid. Right now, it is required by law in CA that a house must be on-grid. So we have to pay to run electrical wires to every home even if you can prove that it’s self sustaining all 4 seasons. That grid requires its money for profits and infrastructure. So as more Californians install solar panels, utility companies raise rates so they keep their profit margin. I think the grid needs to be re-thought on how it’s laid out. Perhaps most individual homes will become their own power generators in the future. My own personal dream is for my home to be capable of producing all of its own energy.

    I absolutely support grants for researching clean energy. And there have been some impressive breakthroughs. Surprisingly, nuclear energy that consumes its own waste is looking like a possibility again, and I wouldn’t have touched that tech with a 100 mile foot pole before.

    What I do not support is the government playing venture capitalist, because it is terrible at playing private sector. I do not support settling for beta technology. I want the best and I want it to last. I want energy to be affordable. I don’t want people paying $1,000/month for heating and air conditioning, or settling for Third World Conditions because they can’t afford energy costs. I’m tired of hearing about old people perishing because they couldn’t afford to heat or cool their homes. We must keep costs down, no matter how unwelcome such a goal is to politicians.

    These are exciting times, but we have to plan carefully. We can’t get carried away and settle for beta test models. We have to get this right, because a mistake is very costly.

  12. The issues with the drinking water of Flint, MI brings to mind the axiom that you cannot trust the government to always have your best interests at heart. It’s run by fallible people, made unaccountable through government unions. They are essentially un-firable and not accountable.

    Some maniac decided that the most polluted river in Flint would be a super source for drinking water. And then the local government ignored reports of rashes, Legionnaire’s Disease, Meningitis, and Lead for 2 years. The kids who had elevated blood concentrations of lead may have repercussions forever, with lower IQ and behavioral problems. Some people died from Legionnaire’s Disease. God knows whatever other diseases may have been contracted from this cesspool flowing from the tap. Why not bathe in medical waste combined with used motor oil? Now you have a mostly African American, poor community forced to bathe with bottled water while the government flounders around. Pregnant women and babies consumed this sewage.

    People should go to jail for this, like they should have for the VA scandal. But they won’t. Elected officials can get voted out of office. But the government union employees who made these shady deals, will continue to keep their jobs, and get fat raises and benefits. Sure, they will be sued, but the taxpayers will foot the bill.

    Even the EPA ignored its own whistleblower on this obvious catastrophe waiting to happen, which underlines the need to reform that department, as well.

    If this was a private company, it would be sued to the Stone Age, the office furniture taken out and sold, its officers would go to jail, and the company would fold. But since its the government, there is no accountability.

    I’m jaded, but I don’t think anyone will be prosecuted, even though they should be.

    And this entire story is apropos because it fits into my top priority of the critical need for clean water resources.

  13. In the 70’s it was global cooling. By now Washington and Oregon would be covered with ice. I have friends in Oregon, all is well. The planet cannot be controlled by mankind. To be benevolent, we named it Mother Nature. We have been recycling since the 70’s, not as much as today, but our office, of the evil corporation IBM, placed two waste baskets at everyone’s desk. One for paper and one for everything else. Our recyclable trash collection is on Tuesday. Drive around, everyone has their bin of recyclables ready to go. Solar energy panels arrive almost daily. Many are installing phony grass. Lots of people drive tiny cars (if a truck hit them, they will be dead! What more can we do? Bury our poop? We have solar panels (for the house and the pool) with the attendant decrease in our bill. But now the rates are being raised because the electricity company isn’t making enough money. We put all recyclables in front on Tuesday. All bottles and cans are in that container, along with bits and pieces of other recyclables. My husband drives a car with the least possible damage to the environment. I drive a four-door, Buick Park Avenue Ultra. They have discontinued the Park, so it gets a lot of attention so it stays and runs as the Black Beauty it is. I have, and use, A/C, heated front seats, a sunroof, CD changer in the trunk, every bell and whistle available! Filling it up is rarely less than $30+.

    As everything in this country, it is all about money. We Americans are doing everything we can to keep our air clean, our streams and lakes pure. If someone would tell us what more we can do,,we’ll probably do it. And it will make no difference, because the rest of the world will never recycle as much as we do. So now our reward is to give the Feds more of our money! I have no trust that the extra money will ever be used for climate change, which has been going on for more years than we can count. So who gets our largess? Polluted countries that will change nothing.

    I’m sorry Professor, but my husband’s degree is Physics. And four years on a nuclear sub teaches you a lot about Nuclear Physics. He will laugh when I show him your article.

    What no one talks about, and it is cause for concern, is the whirlpool of trash in the Pacific. Lots of ships go see it, but no one can think of what to do. It increases every day. It is beyond humongous. Most of it is recyclable plastic, but we can’t get it out. Now there is a true catastrophy, but no speeches on the floors of Congress, no tears from Obama, nothing. This is here and now, not 150 years from now, simply now. A gigantic vacuum, a bomb, throw in global warming scientists? This could be good for the economy. We could sell tickets. But only on sailing ships (not much pollution) and they will take their trash home to their bin.

    We could get blasted by a meteor or weaponry some country doesn’t know how to use so just presses a button. And that whirlpool will probably survive, but not us. I am a Republican and will vote for Trump if he is the nominee. Not to worry, I live in CA and presedential election votes are meaningless, the Democrats will win. Probably the worst run State in the Union, but oh the weather.

  14. A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that the amount of man-made heat energy absorbed by the seas has doubled since 1997.

    Does the study quantify alternate sources of energy (eg geothermal, cosmic ray bombardment) that may be responsible for the ocean warming phenomena said to have been observed?

    Earth’s climate has never been static as far back as science can discern Earth’s climate has been highly dynamic and fluid changing from millisecond to millisecond never being the same. This is why the use of terms such as normal/average to describe Earth’s climate are misleading as there truly is no normal or average in relation to climate. It is only when we look at Earth’s climate through the perspective of human time (tens-hundreds of years) that it appears to be stable. When Earth’s climate is viewed in geological/astronomical (thousands-billions of years) time it is very easy to see natural variability at work.

    In the image below there is a graph charting temperature (C) from 160,000 years ago to present which clearly shows that from 160,000 years ago until about 10,000 years ago temperature changed many times in very short time spans and then from about 10,000 years ago to present time the temperature appears to be stable but rest assurred it will change again with or without humans.

    Compiled by R.S. Bradley and J.A. Eddy based on J. Jouzel et al., Nature vol. 329. pp. 403-408, 1987 and published in EarthQuest, vol. 5, no. 1, 1991. Courtesy of Thomas Crowley, Remembrance of Things Past: Greenhouse Lessons from the Geologic Record

    Climate change on Earth is not a newly discovered phenomena (as some people attempt to portray) it has been occurring since the beginning of Earth time.

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