Compiled by an international group of scientists, the new study employed techniques from an array of disciplines, including physics, mathematics, earth science, and climatology. The basic approach was to take the combined worldwide measurements of ocean temperatures since 1871, then run that data through the latest computer models of ocean circulation patterns to find where all the heat has gone.
Developed by researcher Samar Khatiwala, the technique uses blunt force mathematics to assess global ocean warming down to the seabed.
“Our approach is akin to ‘painting’ different bits of the ocean surface with dyes of different colors and monitoring how they spread into the interior over time,” Khatiwala said in a statement issued with the new research. “If we know what the sea surface temperature anomaly was in 1870 in the North Atlantic Ocean we can figure out how much it contributes to the warming in, say, the deep Indian Ocean in 2018.”
RELATED: How to Harness the Oceans to Save the World From Climate Change
The distressing upshot is that, according to the research team, these new estimates support evidence that the oceans are absorbing most of the excess energy in the climate system, which is produced from greenhouse gases emitted by human activities.
The really important part, for those of us who live in threatened coastal areas, is that warmer oceans mean rising sea levels that are compounded by the physical expansion of water as it gets warmer. In other words, those melting ice caps are only part of the problem.
The new research should help scientists make more accurate predictions in the years to come of where and when sea levels will rise. Presumably, this will be useful to us survivors paddling around in the floating city of New Topeka.