Oceanographers find global warming
A day after the Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 16, strong evidence emerged that greenhouse gases produc...
A day after the Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 16, strong evidence emerged that greenhouse gases produced by human activity are indeed having a profound effect on the environment.
At the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington, DC, scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography released the results of a report showing the effect of warming on the oceans. Since the oceans cover almost three-quarters of the earth’s surface, they are key to the entire planet’s health.
Tim Barnett and David Pierce of the climate research division of Scripps used a combination of computer models and real-world observed data. Barnett says he was “stunned” by the results because the computer models reproduced so accurately the results from the field measurements. The field measurements involved more than five million temperature readings and two million salinity readings over the past four decades.
At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Barnett declared: “The debate about whether there is a global warming signal is over.”
Barnett and his colleagues used computer models of climate to calculate human-produced warming over the last 40 years in the world’s oceans. In all the ocean basins, the warming signal in the upper 700 metres predicted by the models corresponded to the measurements obtained at sea with confidence exceeding 95 per cent. The correspondence was especially strong in the upper 500 metres of the water column.
According to the report’s authors, efforts to explain the ocean changes through naturally occurring variations in the climate or external forces, such as solar or volcanic factors, didn’t come close to reproducing the observed warming.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography is at the University of California, San Diego. Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory also participated in the study and co-authored the report.