The oceans may be storing 13 percent more heat than previously estimated, according to a new study co-authored by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
The finding, published in the journal Science Advances, is based on a new analysis of how ocean temperatures have changed since 1960. The research team, led by Lijing Cheng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, compared their results to estimates published in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013.
"In other words, the planet is warming quite a lot more than we thought," said NCAR scientist Kevin Trenberth, a study co-author.
The vast majority of excess heat trapped on Earth by greenhouse gas emissions — about 90 percent — is stored in the oceans, but measuring how the heat content of the oceans has changed over time has been a challenge due to sparse observations. More...
Journal article:Lijing, C., K.E. Trenberth, J. Fasullo, T. Boyer, J. Abraham, J. Zhu. 2017: Improved estimates of ocean heat content from 1960 to 2015. Science Advances, doi:10.1126/sciadv.1601545.