Global warming is stabilizing the oceans, raising surface temperatures and reducing the amount of carbon they can absorb, according to research published Monday by meteorologists warning that the findings have “deep and disturbing” effects.
Man-made climate change has caused surface temperatures to rise across the planet, leading to an increase in extreme weather events such as atmospheric instability and storms.
But in the oceans, high temperatures have a different effect, slowing down the mixing between lower temperatures and colder, oxygen-rich waters, the researchers said.
This “stratification” of the ocean means that less deep water is rising towards the surface carrying less oxygen and nutrients, while surface water absorbs less atmospheric carbon dioxide to bury at atmospheric depths.
In a report published in the journal Nature Climate change, An international team of climate scientists said they found that global stratification increased “significantly” by 5.3 percent from 1960 to 2018.
Much of this stabilization was raised to the surface and is caused by an increase in temperature.
They said that the process of melting sea ice also degrades the process, meaning that more fresh water – which is lighter than salt water – also accumulates on the surface of the ocean.
Michael Mann, a professor of climate science at Pennsylvania State University and co-author of the study, said in a comment published in Newsweek that “there are probably deep and difficult technical discoveries.”
This includes running potentially more “intense, destructive hurricanes” as sea levels warm.
Mann also pointed to a reduction in CO2 absorption levels, which could mean that carbon pollution in the atmosphere occurs faster than expected.
He warned that sophisticated weather models often underestimate the level of the sea and may underestimate its impact.
Because of the low oxygen content of warm water, marine life is also affected.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the oceans keep the population alive by absorbing a quarter of man-made CO2 and soaking up more than 90 percent of the heat generated by greenhouse gases.
Seas are grown acidic, potentially weakening their ability to pull down CO2. Warm surface water has increased the strength and range of fatal tropical storms.
Marine heatwaves are destroying coral reefs, and accelerating the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, raising sea levels.
Last year, published in Research U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Calculated that climate change, by the end of the century, measured by mass, would deplete one-fifth of all living creatures in the ocean.
ન્સી Agency France-Press