Oceans Are Trapping More Heat Than We Realized, Accelerating Global Warming

A new report published Wednesday in the journal Nature notes that the world’s oceans are absorbing more heat than previously estimated, setting the stage for more extreme global warming than predicted. Laure Resplandy, a geoscientist at Princeton University and an author on the study, told The Washington Post that the oceans are holding 60 percent more heat annually than previously estimated. “We thought that we got away with not a lot of warming in both the ocean and the atmosphere for the amount of CO2 that we emitted,” he said. “But we were wrong. The planet warmed more than we thought. It was hidden from us just because we didn’t sample it right. But it was there. It was in the ocean already.” It wasn’t until 2007 that scientists could accurately measure how much heat was being retained in oceans using devices called “Argo floats.” That oceans are holding more heat and not releasing it into space means that global warming could be further along than we had previously thought. The higher ocean heat retention rate could explain the state of coral reefs, melting polar ice caps, and ecological damage that has been occurring at an accelerated rate.