Detailed measurements of ocean temperatures this week reveal that the world’s oceans have absorbed over 90% of the additional heat trapped within the Earth’s atmosphere as the result of additional carbon dioxide.
As a result, ecosystems are shrinking away from the equator, disease is spreading among fish populations, wild storms are on the increase resulting in mega typhoons and hurricanes such as the one that flooded the Southern USA six weeks ago.
A little known side effect of this incredible warming event is the marked increase in hydrogen sulphide in the ocean. Used as a chemical weapon in World War I, hydrogen sulphide was characteristic of the primordial ocean before plant life evolved and oxygen became common place. The gas is highly toxic to most living things.
Soaring ocean temperature is ‘greatest hidden challenge of our generation’
A ‘truly staggering’ rate of warming is changing the behaviour of marine species, reducing fishing zones and spreading disease. The ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat created by human activity. If the same amount of heat that has been buried in the upper 2km of the ocean had gone into the atmosphere, the surface of the Earth would have warmed by a devastating 36C, rather than 1C, over the past century.
The oceans are heating up. That’s a big problem on a blue planet
The extra heat that our greenhouse gases trap is actually absorbed by the oceans. That means that the upper few meters of the sea have been steadily warming more than a tenth of a degree celsius per decade, a figure that’s accelerating. When you think of the volume of water that represents, and then try to imagine the energy necessary to raise its temperature, you get an idea of the blowtorch that our civilization has become.
The Horrors of the Ancient Hothouse — Hydrogen Sulfide in the World’s Warming Oceans
Super typhoons becoming more powerful and more frequent
Those hitting south-east Asia with a category 4 or 5 strength have more than doubled in number, with the increase even more for China and Taiwan and regions north. The increase in sea-surface temperature is key to providing extra energy to tropical storms, with the outcome for the megacities of the region looking grimmer. “With global warming of the oceans and atmosphere, we can expect tropical cyclones to increase in frequency and intensity in all the basins,”
Climate Change Has Doubled the Number of Category 4 and 5 Storms
The destructive power of typhoons in East and Southeast Asia has increased by nearly 50 percent since 1977. Meanwhile, the number of category 4 and 5 storms striking land has doubled. Standing alone, any one of these findings would be significant. Taken together, they paint a picture of significantly rising risk of storm damage and related loss of life due to climate change in one of the world’s most highly populated regions.