Quantcast

'Scary': Warming of Oceans Is Equivalent to 1.5 Atomic Bombs Every Second Over Past 150 Years

CSIRO

By Julia Conley

Carbon emissions are affecting life in all of Earth's ecosystems—contributing to drought, flooding and the melting of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. But a new study by researchers at Oxford University details how the planet's oceans are by far the climate crisis's biggest victim, with implications for the global population.


Researchers examined changes in ocean heat going all the way back to 1871, looking further into the past than many other studies of global and ocean warming. The research suggested that with carbon emissions accelerating dramatically since then, the average heating of the oceans over the nearly 150-year period was equivalent to the dropping of 1.5 atomic bombs per second since 1871.

The Guardian made that calculation after examining the report, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—and alarmed the study's lead author, who confirmed it was accurate.

"I try not to make this type of calculation, simply because I find it worrisome," Prof. Laure Zannat told the Guardian. "We usually try to compare the heating to [human] energy use, to make it less scary."

But Zannat's preferred calculation was hardly less troubling, with the study finding that the heating of the oceans from 1871 to the present day is also equivalent to 1,000 times the energy used by the entire global population every year.

With carbon emissions rising in recent decades, up 60 percent since 1990, the warming oceans can be compared to the effects of three atomic bombs, like the ones that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, per second since that year.

As researchers have reported in recent years, the world's oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the carbon emissions caused by oil and gas drilling, agriculture, and other human activity.

Most of the heat the Oxford University researchers studied is being stored deep in the world's oceans, causing sea level rise and making hurricanes and tsunamis stronger and more destructive.

"Obviously, we are putting a lot of excess energy into the climate system and a lot of that ends up in the ocean. There is no doubt," Zanna told the Guardian.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Sponsored
Prince William and British naturalist David Attenborough attend converse during the World Economic Forum annual meeting, on January 22 in Davos, Switzerland. Fabrice Cofferini /AFP / Getty Images

Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.

During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.

Read More Show Less
EV charging lot in Anaheim, California. dj venus / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Electric vehicle sales took off in 2018, with a record two million units sold around the world, according to a new Deloitte analysis.

What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Teenager Alex Weber and friends collected nearly 40,000 golf balls hit into the ocean from a handful of California golf courses. Alex Weber / CC BY-ND

By Matthew Savoca

Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.

As a scientist researching marine plastic pollution, I thought I had seen a lot. Then, early in 2017, I heard from Alex Weber, a junior at Carmel High School in California.

Read More Show Less
Southwest Greenland had the most consistent ice loss from 2003 to 2012. Eqalugaarsuit, Ostgronland, Greenland on Aug. 1, 2018. Rob Oo / CC BY 2.0

Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.

"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"

Read More Show Less
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Read More Show Less
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Read More Show Less
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Read More Show Less