OCEAN WARMING AT RECORD RATE

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18 january 2016

Science
First Look
The oceans are heating up more rapidly than we thought. Why that matters.

The deep ocean has warmed as much in the past two decades as it did in the previous 100 years, researchers found

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By Kelsey Warner, Christian Science MonitorStaff, January 18, 2016

Heat energy from man-made global warming is being absorbed faster and deeper into the depths of the world's oceans than previously calculated, a study released Monday shows.

It has long been acknowledged by the scientific community that more than 90 percent of the heat energy from burning fossil fuels goes into the world's oceans rather than the ground or atmosphere, and that ocean temperatures have gone up in recent years. But a new study culled data from the 1870s British research ship Challenger's archives, and from modern underwater monitors and computer models to create a timeline for just how much man-made heat has been buried in the oceans over the last 150 years.

The researchers found that the sea absorbed the same amount of heat from the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1865 to 1997 as it did between 1998 and 2015. The actual amount of heat energy absorbed was 150 zettajoules over the course of 132 years, and 150 zettajoules over the next 18. A zettajoule is a practically incomprehensible amount of energy. Exploding one atomic bomb the size of the one that dropped on Hiroshima every second for a year would release a total of just 2 zettajoules.

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