The oceans are most sensitive than we thought. This is not about the oceans’ emotions. The oceans are absorbing more heat than we expected. Earth is an ocean planet, and those open waters absorb heat from the environment. Solar radiation is effectively amplified by the greenhouse effect bringing the total heat absorption to 8 zetajoules (8,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules). That estimate was worrisome enough in terms of climate change and sea level rise. As with many climate projections, the number was overly conservative. The oceans are absorbing 13 zetajoules, more than 50% more than expected – which was already enough to elicit warnings. The extra energy is already in the water, not something that can be forestalled. This finding suggests sea level rise will happen sooner and higher, weather will change swifter, food production has less time to adapt and shift, and generally projections for 2100 are more likely to occur much sooner. This is also a measure of the human impact. Our civilization ‘only’ consumes about 0.5 zetajoules per year, but our effects are amplified by the greenhouse effect. Finding something that is equally sensitive but corrective would be welcome, but not expected.
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